I have been made to feel subpar for a character trait that I simply cannot change for far too long—today I’m fighting back! Okay, that’s not exactly true—I’ve been in my own, subconscious, mini rebellion against both the sunrise and the dawn for as long as I can remember; it’s just that today I’ve come to accept it and say the same both proudly and out loud! Notwithstanding, being a natural nocturnal didn’t always work in my favor: I nearly failed high school for missing so many days, (I blame the school district for starting school before 11:00). In college, my communications major was carefully chosen based on the time that jobs in that field would allow me to show up for work, (late night radio host was at the top of my list), and even now, after having been a crumb snatcher keeper for nearly two decades now, I sometimes still find myself sneaking into bed right before hubby’s morning alarm, despite the fact that my true awake time (due to said kids) is only a few hours away.
No matter which way I’ve tried to slice it, or how hard I’ve endeavored to alter it, I have accepted my internal clock as different, and something that I just can’t change. That still doesn’t stop the judgment. My husband, who very rarely stays up late and gets up early even on off days (he’s annoying—I know), gives me the side-eye when he passes me on his way to the bathroom, and I’m still up in the wee hours, plugging away at my (life saving) work! Sure, I could explain to him that the life I’m saving is my own, because I’m getting to enjoy the peace, quiet and tranquility that (with children) is only possible after dark, but it’s been fruitless. He’s an opponent of the night owls, and thus will never understand. And these adversaries are everywhere: just go on to YouTube right now, and you’ll find countless experts raving about the being an early bird, and get this, waking up before your kids! “You’ll get so much done,” they rave, but that’s damn near sacrilegious if you ask me.
So, In the spirit of camaraderie with my night owl clan, and in stark resistance to the oh-so-perfect morning crew pack, I have come up with a few tricks that have helped me accept my nocturnal nature and be more productive—because, let’s face it—the day breakers are in power and make life happen during the day. We can’t beat them (yet), so we’ll have to join them, but we can still do it our way!
- Do 3 Things! Since most night owls drag in the morning and upon first waking up, I counteract this with the three thing rule: No matter what time I wake up for the day, I do three productive things as soon as I get out of bed (before even touching my phone). That could be making my bed, cleaning my room, putting in a load of laundry, unloading the dishwasher or using my journal to plan out my day. This not only helps me to get moving, it prevents me from getting sucked into the virtual world by my phone, and it typically gets my day started on the right track.
- No Phone before Noon! Now, if you don’t get up until noon, this isn’t going to work, but I’ll still give you the basic point. Whatever time you wake, make it a habit to wait a few hours to look at your phone. I cannot describe how much more productive I during the time that I am not near or holding my phone and studies back this up. The notifications, the incessant checking of social media sites, emails and texts, drains hours from our lives daily and just this one discipline can help get them back. http://time.com/money/3956968/cell-phone-alert-productivity/, http://goodthinkinc.com/limit-digital-distractions-to-promote-productivity/
- Work in Bursts. Even though I’m a night owl, when I’m up, I ‘m working and trying to get a million things done—it can get overwhelming at times. The way I combat this is by compartmentalizing and timing tasks: for example, I’ll set my timer for one hour and clean everything I can on the first floor in that amount of time. Then I take a break, (also for a set amount of time) and then move on to something else. When I repeat this process throughout the day, I not only find that I accomplish a lot, but I also tend to do so with far less stress.
- Plan Downtime. Relaxing is always my goal; I mean, I am a night owl after all, and our kind loves to chill! How I accomplish this, in essence, is by working hard in anticipation to relax. What this looks like? Well, for instance, I clean my home so it’s comfortable when I want to veg out. I give up my early morning phone time, so I can mindlessly surf after all my work is done, without any guilt. I’ll cook dinner early, so that my evenings are free to spend watching a movie with my husband. Planning times to rest are just as important as scheduling increments of productivity and can provide an incentive to get things done!
- No Work after 10. This might be the hardest one for me, however, when I implement this rule, it is by far one of the most effective in increasing my daytime productivity. Let me explain how: although I am a night owl, I am also a workaholic who’s propensity is to use the hours after my children are in bed to get work done. Particularly, projects that require silence, like writing and video editing. Unfortunately, the result of this is that I become so completely immersed in what I’m doing, that I stay up even later than I already would. The way I remedy this, while still respecting my evening proclivity, is by putting a cap on the time I start mentally stimulating projects, instead of putting a deadline on when I go to bed. The result is that I tend to opt for more relaxing activities, like reading or journaling, and I go to bed earlier by default.
All of these things, though useful as tools, are not intended as cures; I’ve learned from experience (and countless sleepless nights) that one doesn’t exist! What we can do, however, is claim it– the fact that we’re hardwired this way, and be proud. Not only because we have a very unique skill, but because we still win, and thrive, and get much ish done- even on fumes. Now that’s something those morning folks could never do!