When you read as many books and articles on habits and productivity as I do, you hear a lot about the wonders of getting up very early in the morning. Getting up early and taking time to pray, meditate, or journal sets you up to have a good productive day so conventional wisdom goes.

But there is a big but about that advice, and it is not everyone is a morning person.  Some people say that you can force yourself to become a morning person by getting up 10 minutes earlier every day. But that is not always the case. Everyone is different. Everyone’s level of energy, health challenges, and their own physical rhythms are different. Being a morning person is not a one-size-fits-all piece of advice to improve your life.

This rant is coming from somebody who is most definitely not a morning person. I have tried over the years a lot of different techniques like getting up much earlier before work to get a jump on the day. It just doesn’t work for me because I feel lousy in the morning.

One time in desperation, I googled how to have more energy in the morning. A lot of the articles mentioned doing three things to help you wake up:  getting out in the sun, drinking 16 ounces of water, and exercising.  These articles all said that this routine would wake you up better than a cup of coffee. I tried it and found it really helped, but I do it plus two cups of coffee. 

Even though I have finally found a morning routine that works for me, I still am not a morning person. I know I cannot be creative in the morning or productive with other people. I’m lucky enough to be able to design my own schedule and my mornings are spent reading, researching, and answering e-mail.  Working with clients, teaching, and writing are for the afternoon. Creatively I really am a night owl and sometimes I do my best writing from after dinner till midnight.

When are you at your best?

As we start thinking about new ways to design our work and creative life in 2023, I urge you to figure out a routine that works best for you. Are you a morning person, a night owl, or something in between? When are you the most productive? The most creative? How can you design your day to take advantage of your rhythms?  I understand that not everyone has control over their schedule.  However even if you are a corporate worker, there are a few meetings under your purview and you can pick when to schedule them. Also, try to schedule any difficult work conversations at your most optimal times.

Get Some Sunshine

Unfortunately, working at your most focused times isn’t always possible. When I was working in Hollywood, I dreaded having screenings or story meetings at 9:00 AM. Sometimes you do just have to drink a lot of coffee to push through. On days like that when you do have a break, get outside in the sunshine, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. I used to take breaks and go sit in the parking lot under a tree for 5 minutes when I needed to recharge at my last corporate gig. It can really help boost your mood and your energy level.

Find Your Evening Routine

Another hack for non-perky morning people is find an evening routine that sets you up for success in the morning.  I have to lay out my exercise clothes and my work clothes the night before. I fill my water bottle and make my coffee.  Then I review my next day’s schedule and write a list of to dos.  These evening habits help me run on autopilot before I’m fully awake. And my to do list that I’ve written the night before helps me jump into work quickly and be focused.

Spend the next few weeks as the year winds down noticing what your internal energetic rhythms are and thinking about ways you can design and revise your current daily routine to sell yourself up for success.  If you’ve discovered some hacks that work for you, I would love to hear about them.  Comment below and let me know. 

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