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A couple of years ago, I saw a sleep researcher do a presentation and essentially introduce the concept of chronotypes, which means that different people have different schedules if I’m simplifying. If you think about the idea of people that are early birds or night owls, we already know this. From a societal standpoint, some people like to be up late at night; some people are more early morning people.
One of the things that he indicated was that type A people (people that tend to be very driven and successful) tend to be early morning people. He classified these different groups as the early morning people, those who get up at a standard time or something like that, and those who get up later or are up late at night. And then, there’s the fourth category of people with irregular schedules or inconsistent programs. The early morning people he characterized and called lions. The late-night people he called wolves. It doesn’t matter what the name is, but I think the concept here is that there are better and worse times to do certain things based upon your, mainly, genetics.
I happen to fall into the lion category, which means I get up every morning somewhere around 5:00-5:30. Whether I want to or not, I’m awake. I can lay in bed, but I’m not sleeping any longer. If I’m lucky, I’ll sleep till six. That’s great. That’s a good day. Sometimes, it’s four, unfortunately.
I’m guessing that many people who listen to this podcast are probably early morning people, not the people that wake up at 9 or 10 a.m. If that’s the case, then you may want to consider it. By the way, even if you’re in one of these other categories, you may want to think, “Hey, when is the best time to do analytics? And when is the best time to do more creative work?”
When to schedule activities
He has a book. One of the essential parts about the book that I think is illuminating is that not only are there better and worse times of the day to do certain things, and it depends upon your genetics, but there are times to exercise, times to drink, times to work out, times to do more intimate things.
For analytical, who get up early in the morning, I think we frequently get consumed with the first half of the day: Meetings, people calling us, or pinging us. We’re being pulled in all kinds of different directions. If we’re lucky, sometime in the afternoon or late afternoon or sometimes even early evening or something like that, we can finally get a block of time where we can block out and say, “Okay, now I’m going to sit down. I’m going to try to crunch a little bit. I’m going to try to grind and get something done and work through a difficult problem set or whatever it might be.” It’s worth noting that that’s the opposite of what we should be doing.
Analysis and more
He suggests that for those who’re early morning people, the best time to do analysis and problem-solving is really between 7:30 in the morning and noon. By the time we hit noon, our problem-solving ability is just about done. We’re almost useless when it comes to problem-solving in the afternoon. I’m sure it’s not quite that bad. I certainly don’t feel wholly incapacitated. But I think there’s something to this: our ability to succeed in this arena is more limited in the afternoon, and we’re much more successful in the morning.
I’ve indeed found that if I can block out a couple of hours in the morning, sometimes I can grind and get stuff done. If I have to do it in the afternoon, frequently, I’ve got to consume some caffeine or something to push me over and allow me to do a block of hard work when I need a couple of hours to concentrate and try to work through some problems.
Mornings or evenings?
Also, it relates to diet and other things where if you don’t have enough blood sugar and protein, it’s going to be hard for your brain to process and do analysis at certain times of the day.
The net of this, I think, is not so much, “Hey, this is what lions, in particular, should do,” although I’m guessing a lot of the listeners of this podcast are what he characterized as lions and early morning people. By the way, the term “lion” for him comes from the concept of getting up early in the morning to look out for lions hunting early in the morning. I don’t remember the exact reference.
Figure out what you are. Figure out, “Are you a late-night person? Are you an early morning person?” You probably already know this. And then, ideally, get this book (it’s called The Power of When, as in what time of day “when”) or figure out some other methodology to determine when is the best time for you to do analysis. And then, try to arrange your schedule where you block out chunks of time. It’s important for when you’re not available to be pulled into a meeting or do phone calls or whatever for that time that is your most productive for doing analysis. I think you’ll find that you get a lot more done over the coming months in terms of output, problem-solving, and research.
Happy hunting and problem-solving! I hope that helps everybody on their analytical journey.