Here’s how you know if someone is a morning person: They tell you. From Instagramming the sunrise during a 6 a.m. jog to oh-so-casually letting it slip that they’ve been “up since five” writing their novel and color-coding their closet, waking up before dawn has somehow become equated with hustling.
Yes, mornings are a great time to knock things off your personal to-do list before kids, your job, or both demand all your attention. But what do you do if you’re not a morning person? Are you destined to always feel a few steps behind your early-bird friends?
According to career and mindset coach Kisma Orbovich, you are far from doomed, my sleepy friend. She firmly believes that there isn’t one “best” way to structure your day for success. In fact, a major part of her job is helping people figure out how, exactly, to map out their hours for their own personal peak performance. (And how to do so when locked into a set office schedule.) “Everyone has different traits and motivators,” she says. “A regime that energizes one person may exhaust someone else.”
“If you’re going against your nature, your actions will be inconsistent. And that will fracture success and create frustration.”—Kisma Orbovich
Orbovich frequently sees people trying to work against their own energy—structuring their day the way that looks best to others, even though it goes against their internal instincts. “That leads to them taking that energy from other parts of their life, and that can eventually lead to burnout.”
A real-life example of what this looks like: Someone who is most creative at night may try to be a morning person, because they heard it’s good to work on personal projects before heading into the office. But that leaves them exhausted, which will eventually make them less likely to create at any time of day. “Consistent action yields consistent results, but you need to set up your life so you can take consistent action,” says Orbovich. “If you’re going against your nature, your actions will be inconsistent. And that will fracture success and create frustration.” Pretty good argument for hitting snooze a few extra times, no?
Grab a coffee and read on to discover a career coach’s productivity hacks for night owls.
3 tips for designing your daily schedule if you’re not a morning person
1. Track your energy: Figuring out exactly when you’re most energized and when you’re too spent to do your best work can take introspection—and maybe even some trial and error. Orbovich is a big fan of physicist and behavioral specialist Zannah Hackett’s Ultimate Life Goal test, which offers vast insight into someone’s specific personality traits and the ways they work best. But you can also start consciously keeping track of how you’re feeling throughout the day. Do you get cranky around 3 p.m.? Are your workouts better when you do them before or after work? When are you most often in a productive flow? When are you most excited to engage with people—and when do you want to be alone?
Sure, there is a lot to the workday that isn’t controllable. You might have a 9 a.m. meeting every day, even though you don’t really feel like talking to anyone until 11. But the insight can help you structure what is in your control. “I have one client who I knew would benefit from taking a 15-minute nap in the middle of the workday,” Orbovich says. “She really didn’t want to do it because she said she didn’t have time and felt weird closing the door to her office and napping at work. But once she started doing it, her company benefitted greatly from it. She was so refreshed that it was like she was starting a whole new workday.”
2. Don’t let self-care slide just because you don’t want to do it first thing: It’s also important to remember that journaling, working out, and other “morning person” habits can be done at any time of day. You can benefit from meditating in the evening just as much as in the morning. The key is to schedule these things in when you’re most motivated to do them—even if it’s not when the rest of the world might choose to. “It’s really freeing for people to see that the world doesn’t end when they take a nap for 30 minutes in the middle of the day,” Orbovich says. “Unless you have kids and they need you right away, most things in life can wait 15 or 30 minutes.”
3. Whatever you do, make time for this *one* a.m. task: Regardless of whether you wake up at five or hit snooze five times, Orbovich says everyone should take 15 minutes in the morning to map out their goals for the day. “This can be called setting your intention, or if that’s too woo-woo for you, simply figuring out what you want to accomplish that day,” she says. “It’s important to do it first thing, because once you grab your phone and start reading emails or getting on social media, the day is no longer yours. You are suddenly in everyone else’s world.”
As Orbovich succinctly puts it, structuring your day really comes down to being true to yourself. “We live in a society where it’s very easy to get swept up in the herd, but being part of the herd isn’t what’s going to lead you to success,” she says. “We can create success by following our own path and purpose.” So slay the day—but don’t feel bad if you wait until sunset to do so.
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