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Working In Synch With Your Body Clock

Working In Synch With Your Body Clock

One of the stupidest things I find about us in the 21st century is how slow we are to adapt to new knowledge.

It seems to me that we have a wealth of new understanding about how our bodies and minds work and yet we insist on clinging to old ways of doing things, not for rational reasons, but for emotional reasons.

If you don’t work hard, you’re a slacker. Whoah, hang on there tiger. It is results that count. I mentioned it before when I talked about the Finnish school system and effectiveness vs time spent.

Now the latest piece of the puzzle is that beginning work before 10am is akin to torture. I can relate to this. Every single night I go to bed geeing myself up that I am going to be an absolute ninja in the morning. Up at 7, bright eyed and bushy tailed. Most mornings I fail miserably. Now I know why.

I am not a morning person. These days I am not a night person either, but that is by the by. As an aside nor am I am extrovert. I’m an introvert and that’s that. Thing is it seems to me that for as long as I can remember, both of these were not considered to be just the way some people were made, it was that there was a right and wrong way. Early rising extroverts were in the right and night owl introverts were just plain deviant.

You were supposed to turn up for work at for 8 eight o’clock looking all happy and ready for a productive day. I turned up looking tired and disagreeable.

Now it appears that times are a-changing. And I for one say it’s about time.

A school in Tyneside UK decided to start lessons at 10am instead of the standard 9am.  What they found was both an improvement in attendances and exam results.

What I say about this is that there are results there. And they are results that were achieved not from working harder, but from working smarter. There is no change to the work to be done. There is no change to the curriculum at all. There is no change to the hours at school.  Nothing has changed – except the time school starts. That is a result out of more or less thin air.

This is what I love.  Better performance from nowhere. The only thing that has been done is to work in sync with the children’s bodies rather than out of sync.

And that’s the thing. It’s always the way it is. Do things right and they’re effortless. Do things wrong and you make it hard. In my own experience, learning the art of judo, when you get the right technique it’s easy. When you don’t and you try to brute force it, it can take a ridiculous amounts of effort to do things and in fact you’re not even likely to succeed even with brute force.

Contrast this to the story about this idiot.. burnout was the best thing that could happen to me. Leaving work at 2am and back at 6am? Because.. I’m a high achiever!! Well clearly your approach was not sustainable, because you burnt out.

I’ve seen this rubbish before in the corporate world, where hours spent are a badge of courage. “I worked on this till 1:30 last night”. Wow.. you’re not a hero, you’re an idiot. You do realise sleep is actually not a luxury don’t you? It’s a necessity mate. Your ability to think, solve problems and make decisions diminishes if you don’t get enough sleep. If you work with your brain, the longer you work the less productive you become. It actually hits a point where you are so unproductive that you may as well not be working at all.

What we are talking about here is identity. Someone starts to identify as a “high achiever” and thinks that means lots of hours spent on the job. It does not.

Hours spent mean nothing. Only results count. Ever hired a tradesman to do a job, had them quote you a figure, agreed to it, had them come over and be finished and on their way to the pub by lunchtime? It didn’t matter to you that they had the job done in four hours. You didn’t go.. “Hey, I want you to stick around a bit longer – I’ve paid you for the full day!”. No, you had agreed on a price and all you cared about was that the job done was professional.

On a fixed priced quote, if they had taken more time than they had anticipated you wouldn’t be paying them more for the work they did would you? So why would you expect to pay less just because they were good at what they did and did it quickly? You are actually penalising people for being good.

There are numerous study that show that the quality of decision making and problem solving plummets when people are tired.  So what this means is that if you are a white collar worker whose job depends on the quality of your thinking and you deprive yourself of sleep you are depriving yourself of the ability to do your job well.

You should not get a medal from your boss for dedication, you should actually get a kick up the arse from him. The reason you don’t is because he probably doesn’t sleep as much as he should and as a result his reasoning faculties are impaired.

In your own life what do you do? Are you in a position to make the changes you need to make or are you a slave to the alarm clock? If you are not naturally a morning person and you have the opportunity to do things differently, I recommend you make those changes and see how your own productivity improves.

About The Author


A guy obsessed with stripping down whatever field he studies to get the optimum return from effort expended. Sort of like Tim Ferriss, except with zero fame.

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