If you want to make the most of your productive energy each day, you need to know if you are a lark or an owl. I’m a lark – I tend to wake early and my energy is decidedly highest in the morning. Owls on the other hand feel most alive and productive at night and tend to sleep in late. Most of us can easily identify ourselves as one or the other, and most young adults tend to be owls. If you aren’t sure which you are, ask yourself “At what time of day do I feel most energetic? When do I get the most accomplished?”
In college, everyone warned me not to volunteer for early morning classes. “Even if you think you’re a morning person, college is different.” While I admit that having Sociology at 8AM my first semester was no cakewalk, after I established my collegiate rhythm I was able to enjoy an early bird routine again (including taking the 8AM shift for my workstudy job).
Even though the world tends to favor larks (schools, offices, and businesses open on the early side), owls can be just as successful. The smartest thing you can do is take advantage of what type you are to the extent possible. Larks and owls (and everyone in between) should work on their highest priority tasks (see “For Small Wins, Think Bigger Picture” post) during their peak hours. During your less productive hours (I call them my zombie zone), you can take on less demanding tasks, or practice self-care by exercising, socializing, running errands, etc. Sometimes you may need to tackle energy-intensive things during your non-peak hours (usually you can’t change your school’s or employer’s schedule). This makes it all the more important to optimize the places in your schedule that you can control.
There is no right or wrong way to be, just more and less effective ways of being yourself. By understanding and honoring who you authentically are, you can use your best qualities to help you flourish.