Are you a morning person, a night owl, or whatever clichéd phrase in relation to the afternoon?
One of the benefits of being a freelancer is working from home. You don’t have to worry about traffic on the way to the office, traffic on the way back from the office, or nosy coworkers poking into your cubicle all day – just you and your own work. The drawback, of course, is that you have to hold yourself accountable for everything you do. You have to learn how to manage your time so everything can be completed by the appropriate deadlines. You don’t want to lose a client simply because you thought you could go golfing when you should’ve been working on a big project.
This also means figuring out the time of day you are the most productive. Now, if you have a lot of regular, consistent work in addition to a family and/or social life, the typical 9-to-5 schedule might work out best for you: it leaves your mornings free to take the kids to school and your evenings available for family game time or a date night. But if your daily life is a bit more flexible or your work is more dependent on your creativity than sheer volume, finding out when exactly you’re the most alert and focused will likely result in higher quality production.
For some people, it’s the morning – the earlier, the better. After getting a good night’s sleep, a morning person can exercise, walk their dog, or check social media, all before actually starting their work day. After all, it’s just a matter of getting up early enough! They are fresh and rejuvenated, with their brain is firing on all four cylinders. These people can work straight through to the afternoon without losing steam. I myself am secretly a morning person, for though I’m usually kinda grumpy from lack of sleep (due to being up late reading), I get much more work done at this time than at any other, mostly because the rest of my day is consumed with family matters. Also, once I’m up, I’m wide awake and fairly energized.
Conversely, by mid- to late-afternoon, I’m dog tired. Here in California, the afternoon is the hottest part of the day, and everything and everyone is hot and sluggish. Expelling even the slightest amount of energy requires too much effort. But even in the winter (CA term: Summer, Jr.), I have a hard time focusing in the afternoon, and will usually take a break unless I have plans in the evening. People who function best during this time probably stay up late and wake up late, using the evening to socialize and the morning to do errands. They have the most energy to do their job in the afternoon, and have more time to mess with, too, either starting earlier or working later as necessary.
Night people seem to make up the majority of writers and artists. Their day is usually filled with other responsibilities, so they stay up late to do their work. After all, it’s the quietest, coolest part of the day, with little distractions around, which boosts their creativity. I also like working late, as my afternoon break has allowed me to recharge, and I’m once again ready to focus on any work I have left. If I had it my way, I’d probably work all night, too, but besides having to do daytime tasks, my body also tends to betray me – I’ve woken up with my face sprawled on the keyboard more than once. When my body is ready for sleep, I have no choice but to sleep!
Once you’ve determined your peak productivity time, it’s best to stick with it as much as possible. Work out meals, exercise, and sleep to fit in with this schedule, and make sure to leave time for personal projects or a social life. Even if you’re more a spontaneous person, having a schedule helps your body to be alert when you need it to be, and being consistent allows you to move around projects or make time for unexpected events more easily.
What time of the day are you the most productive? Share your thoughts in the comments below!