Books Magazine

Dear Morning People, I Disagree.

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

You want to know when I get most of my work on the blog (and reading) done? Between 8-11 p.m. That’s night time, if you’re keeping score at home.

You see, there’s a myth out there—and it’s been floating around for centuries thanks, partially, to Ben Franklin—that in order to be successful in life, you have to be a morning person. Recently, people I respect, like Michael Hyatt, have written about it.

Other people, like Jon Acuff, have started what’s called “The 5 Club” built around people who get up at 5 a.m and do “awesome” things. This guy is just one of the many people who have written a book on the topic.

If you’re not a morning person, you’re left believing that you have to change your DNA and be like these people if you want to be successful, or you just have to accept a life of mediocrity, of being average, of being the third-string quarterback on the football team.

But I don’t buy it. I’ve never bought it. And, finally, we have research that doesn’t buy it either. The London School of Economics recently published research that said night owls may be more successful, and better thinkers, than morning people.

This Yahoo article talks about the research and cites a lot of examples of extremely successful night owls, like Winston Churchill, Gustave Flaubert, W.H. Auden, James Joyce and even President Obama. It walks you through a night owl’s routine and why their thought process works for them.

So why does this matter?

If you’re a blogger or a writer, ideally, you’re working on your craft during a time in which you function the best. Many writers and creatives are night owls, and I think we’ve been beaten over the head with this notion that we have to change who we are in order to be more successful at our craft.

That’s crap. I’ve tried getting up early to write, and my experiences sucked. It felt like I was trying to drive a car after taking two Benadryl.

In the morning, my brain focuses on just getting from point A to point B. I think linearly. In the evening, my brain is creative and able to think more clearly. If I had to make all my major life decisions before 8 a.m., I would be living on the street under a bridge in Vegas.

If you think better at night, then write at night. You don’t have to get up at 5 a.m. in a mindfog to do what you love. And, look, if it takes coffee or bright lights to “turn you into a morning person,” then you’re not really a morning person. That’s about your environment, which is something you can adjust any time of the day.

In defense of the morning people who beat this drum, they push the idea because they believe you’re more alert and focused in the morning. Your daytime hours are filled with kids and family and work, so they suggest getting up and moving before the pressure of the day hits you.

That approach just doesn’t work for a true night owl, though. For me, married with two kids and a full-time job, I get all of my blogging and reading done late at night after everyone’s in bed. It’s relaxation, not work.

To me, there’s nothing better than drinking a beer while writing a blog post late at night before I go to bed. My mind is in a creative place at night that I simply can’t recreate at 5 a.m.

So if you’re a blogger or a writer, or anyone really, and you’ve been told over and over and over again that you need to start getting up at 4:30 a.m. to do your job well, don’t buy it. My guess is that you’re a lot like me.

And there’s nothing wrong with being a night owl. Embrace it. You can’t fit a square peg into a round hole, no matter what those perky morning people tell you.

And if it’s good enough for Winston Churchill, then I think it’s good enough for you.

More about the research here. 

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