Popular culture has already coined an “energy rhythm” classification system, named for birds, which could determine our productivity peaks.
In an article by Adam Hadhazy, one extreme group is referred to as “larks” (the early birds), while the other is referred to as “night owls” (the nocturnal birds). In that same piece, the author stresses that most of us don’t fall firmly within either category and can thus shift our rhythms (blogger Amberr Meadows calls such shifters “hummingbirds”). Some of us, however, don’t have that ability – these “extreme birds” are either larks or night owls for the rest of their lives. And this could make things a little bit tricky if they’re required to work with other people.
So how do you get things to work out in your favor, when your productivity rhythms aren’t in sync with others’ schedules? Here are some things that you, as an “extreme bird” can do.
Put Your Trust in Technology
Modern business phone systems are your friend – especially if they’re VoIP- or cloud-based. These types of telephone systems can be customized in a way that matches your personal timetable. This means that, if you’re an extreme, you can have most of your incoming calls routed to your voice mailbox so it wouldn’t get in the way of your creative groove. Or, if a big part of your job involves communicating with other people, you can have all your calls routed to your smartphone (possibly the most convenient device ever) during your peak hours.
Other cloud-based services can also work to your advantage. For example, a file sharing service that you can access from home allows you to get some work done no matter where you are. That means that it doesn’t actually matter anymore that you naturally wake up at 4 am or sleep around 2 am even when you have a 9-5 shift – you can work on projects before or after you need to be at the office. It doesn’t matter if you’re a lark or a night owl, with technology, you can still use your time wisely.
Work It Out with Others
Of course, technology is only half of the battle. In order to be truly productive in a setting where you need to work with other people, you need to make note of their own working patterns as well. It’s not so difficult if you’re working with a hummingbird who can adjust accordingly; but if you’re dealing with an extreme bird while being an extreme bird yourself, things can get a bit messy. In many cases, you need to take other people’s productivity patterns into account on top of your own.
The best way to do this is to talk to your co-workers about it so you can work out a system – larks, for example, can work on projects sent to them by night owls first thing in the morning while night owls can expect projects from larks later in the day. If this is not possible, then simple observation will suffice: email, SMS, and private message timestamps should give you an idea of what times people tend to work.
No matter how hectic your schedule is, you still need to respect your body’s wishes – and respect other people’s physiologies as well.