According to recent research from 23andme, there is apparently a genetic cause for being a morning or night person; of the nearly 90,000 people asked, 56.4% identified as night owls, as opposed to “larks”. If this study is representative of the wider world, that means the majority of people have a legitimate reason for struggling with the grind of the nine-to-five.
But if your brain only really switches on an hour or two before the end of the working day, there are some ways you can maximise your time, even when you aren’t quite firing on all cylinders. Here’s how to get the most done if you work better later.
You’re a night owl…own it!
The first thing need to do is simply to accept that you work better in the evening, and structure your day around this as best you can. There are a few easy ways to do this; if your brain starts functioning properly after lunch, that’s when you need to schedule the more taxing tasks for the day. Before then, stick to the mundane matters which don’t require your brain to be so active; data entry, expenses claims, invoices—whatever tasks you can do on autopilot.
You could even take the last moments of the night before to prep yourself for the day ahead. Pre-planning things like what you’re going to wear, or packing your bag with everything you need, gives you a little extra time in bed. This will benefit your body clock, and ease you into the working day with a little more ease than cramming all the usual morning tasks into the hour before you leave the house.
Take the opportunity to expand your mind after hours
If you aren’t able to adapt your working hours to suit your sleeping pattern, there are ways to ensure all of that mental and physical energy isn’t wasted. Taking up a hobby, signing up with a gym, or enrolling in evening classes, once you’re out of the office for the day is a great way to capitalise on your after-hours focus and perhaps even open up an entirely new career path.
Night schools have also become a pressing political issue in the wake of both Brexit and the skills gap; earlier this year, a group MPs petitioned the government to raise funding for night schools run by FE institutes, with one and a half million fewer adults accessing FE in the last decade. A recent study has shown that night classes gave students “a greater feeling of control over their lives and more willingness to take on new challenges,” all of which are extremely beneficial qualities within both the world of work and beyond.
You never know, your boss might understand
Now, that isn’t to say you should ask your line manager to work at twelve hours’ remove from the rest of your team; for a start, if you need to book in a meeting with a client, that’s going to make one of your lives exceedingly difficult. However, with flexible working becoming an increasingly popular demand for employees in all sectors, it may not be as difficult as you think to come to some kind of mutually beneficial arrangement about working hours.
You may already work for a company which offers flexitime or home-working options, both of which can allow you to shift your day back by a few hours to ensure you make the most of your time. Of course, need to be as flexible in return as your boss is for you; asking for a later start on your first day on the job may not go down as well as asking once you’ve established yourself as a vital member of your team.