Whether you’re an early riser or a late-night worker, what do you do when your most productive hours hit outside the 9-to-5 routine?
I’m not a morning person.
Believe me, I’ve tried, and it’s not a pretty picture. And as much as I’d love to be bright eyed and bushy tailed at the crack of dawn (I could get so much done! I could go to the gym!), it turns out I won’t be changing my natural inclination to sleep late any time soon.
That’s because a strong preference towards working early or working late is genetically predetermined characteristic, like being tall. As Frederick Brown, a professor of psychology at Penn State, puts it: “If you’re a morning-type person, you can’t become an evening type, and vice versa.”
(As it happens, I might not want to be a morning person anyway. Some studies suggest that night owls—people who have their best work time in the evenings—are both smarter and more productive than early risers.)
Whether you’re an early riser or a late-night worker, what are you supposed to do when your most productive hours hit outside the 9-to-5 routine?
One option is to explore career choices that fall outside the scheduling norm.
For example, disaster-response career fields—like healthcare and security—need around-the-clock workers. You can’t schedule an emergency, right?
Similarly, breaking news happens on its own time. Media workers such as camera operators, journalists and photographers often toil late into the night, or start their job in the wee hours of the morning.
The world of travel is another 24/7 industry. Taking on a transportation job like air traffic controller, flight attendant or pilot often guarantees outside-the-box scheduling. And of course, working as a freelancer or consultant provides the flexibility to structure your own workday.
So, all you early birds and night owls: Have you chosen a career that fits your daily rhythm? If not, what tactics do you use to cope with the 9-to-5 schedule?