If I see another article or book about how everyone’s successful secret to success is waking up ridiculously early in the morning, I might scream.

What a way to kick start your day!

Get work done early, meditate, focus, exercise, read, be mindful, and all before the sun has even risen. Countless CEOs are credited to be more productive because waking up early gives them more time to plan and accomplish tasks.  I’ve read that waking up early is so productive because it’s a peaceful and quiet time. It tends to be uninterrupted and allows you to plan the day ahead. All the humble brags about being up for hours before those of us less successful brings me a bit of an eyeroll.

Early = Successful, Late = Lazy

Why is it that being up early means you are successful, and sleeping in (after being up late) means you are lazy?

Early mornings are peaceful and quiet.

So are late nights.

Early mornings are uninterrupted and allow you to plan ahead.

So do late nights.

It’s a personal preference. It’s what works for you.

I could wake up early. I have. I hate it. I’m incredibly unproductive early in the morning.  I’m grumpy and hazy and uninspired.  Exercising is torture, thinking is impossible.

But at night?

I’m crazy smart. I’m so inspired. I’m super focused.  I can bang out a presentation that is analyzed and convincing and even aesthetically pleasing. I can make  a pivot table that tells you a story 5 different ways and concludes what strategy aligns best with our goals.

Yes, it’s quiet and uninterrupted. My mind is sharp. I can prepare for the next day when I’m at my best.

For some CEO’s, that time might be morning.  For me, that’s at night.  The hours between “bedtime” (9pm) and midnight or 1am, is when I do my most strategic work.  My work day is filled with meetings and chats and emails full of quick questions and timely responses. It also sometimes needs to be filled with school pick ups and basketball drop offs.  There’s the coffee making and lunch preps (oh and shouldn’t I take a quick walk at some point to keep my body from completely atrophying?) and after school snacks that leave me starting and stopping between meetings and focus time.  Meetings require preparation and presentation and careful thought. At times, I don’t have the actual time or sometimes just the ability to concentrate during work hours.  But you can bet that I used the night before to prepare to be at my best.

Dark nights, Bright Lights

Late nights can be about analyzing data while my mind is able to comprehend the patterns and meaning, it can be about writing an article for this site, it can be about taking a moment to update my daily planner, cost comparing to book a flight, planning out summer camp schedules, or any number of things that I just need to concentrate on.

Will you see me up and at ’em at 5 am? Certainly not.  6 am? Also no. 7 am? Yes, reluctantly. But you can be sure even at that late hour, I’m ready for the day. I’ve prepared for the meetings, I’ve answered all the emails (scheduled to send during business hours the next day), I’ve planned the personal stuff and I know what I’m doing when.

But why?

So why do I still feel so ashamed for using the darkness before midnight instead of before dawn for my productivity?

This hyped production of the early morning hours being the positive productivity hours is just that: hype.  I suppose it would be different if I was using my late night hours to binge on one excess or another, but since my excess is more about Excel, I don’t think my “sleeping in” is at all related to being lazy, it’s just the opposite.  I’m proud of what I do night AND day.  I don’t need to hide my preferred sleeping rhythm to fit in with the CEOs.

When do you do your best?

Whenever you are most productive, embrace it. Don’t believe the hype, believe your body. When do you feel sharp? When do you focus?  Embrace that time of day and make time for your focus when it feels best, not when someone tells you it should feel best!

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Gia Ilole
Gia is a native Californian who has lived all over the state from San Diego to Trinity County, plus Washington DC for a short time. She recently relocated to Ventura County with her family to build a compound property together with her sister’s family so that they could always share wardrobes and parenting responsibilities for their 5 combined children at home. Gia graduated from UCSB with a degree in Linguistics (which she thinks entitles her to make up words). It took her just three years, as she was eager to graduate early to go live with her long distance boyfriend and his toddler daughter at the time. That seemed to work out, as the boyfriend got promoted to husband years ago and her step-daughter promoted her to grandmother recently! Gia’s husband is from East Africa and runs their Bed and Breakfast in Tanzania from near and far. Gia is a Human Resources Director who has a major obsession with watermelon and eggnog lattes, depending on the season.


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