Morning Person Tester: Are You Working At the Wrong Time?

If you’re like me, you find yourself more productive at certain times of the day. For some reason, it’s not always an easy thing to recognize without help. I say this with experience: It only took me 4 years to figure out I was working at the absolute worst time of the day for me. I’m actually a morning person.

This post will help you identify the “trouble spots” in your daily productivity, allowing you to schedule your work times in the most efficient spots.

Finding Your Work Window

I have recently started getting up much earlier that I used to, and found that I’m about a gajillion times more efficient in the morning. In fact, I’ve discovered I can even call myself a morning person. I don’t tell many people though.  (I found early on that you can get some very dirty looks telling even your friends that you love the mornings. Tread very lightly when proclaiming your love for the mornings.)

Because I’m a freelancer, I work at home and am technically my own boss. Because of this great flexibility, I can start working whenever I want. Most people just assume that I take advantage of this and start my day leisurely at 11:30 in the morning. (Even I thought this to be standard procedure among all self-employed.) No, I don’t roll out of bed around noon and saunter over to the computer. But I still do take advantage of this flexibility.

morning person

I get up earlier than I normally would.

After being self-employed on the web for the past 4 years, I’ve found that c

ertain times tend to be best for actually getting stuff done.

My cycle looks like this:

  • 6am-1:30pm: Productive to the max
  • 1:30-6pm: More lethargic than Jabba the Hutt

As you can see, I’m not a very good worker in the afternoon. I don’t know why, I’m just not wired that way. But I’ve been able to work around this (literally) because I’ve shifted my work zones. Here are some indicators that you might be working at the wrong time of day for your productivity cycles.

  1. Unfocused. There are times when it is much easier to clamp down and finish tasks throughout the day. If you’re unable to focus, you might not be working during the right time.
  2. Lack of motivation. For some reason waking up early gives me motivation. Starting work in the afternoon does not.
  3. No matter how much you work, you’re just not getting anything done. Certain times of the day help you with clarity of your task, and what needs to be done to finish it.

There are probably many other warning signs to look for, but these are the big 3 that stood out to me. (I’m probably just too dense to recognize the other ones.)If you are finding that this list sounds like a normal occurrence for you, then you just might need to change when your work times throughout the day. But there’s one slight problem. You’ll probably need to wake up earlier.

How many people do you know that wake up really early in the morning and regret it? Or are less productive in the morning? I’m guessing not many. I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I’d venture that most people are wired to be more productive in the morning. I know I am, as much as I tried to fight it.

I’d urge anyone who feels like they’re not getting enough done during the day to wake up earlier, and end the day earlier. At least give it a chance. You just might like it.

Leave a Comment

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • survey August 1, 2019, 9:47 am

    Great blog and thanks for the information.

  • Denny August 25, 2018, 4:25 am

    Good P of advice brother…..thank a lot.
    Keep it on. You r doing a great job.. Bless
    Denny Medrano Baez

  • Gauatm Chaudhury March 17, 2008, 11:07 am

    I am intersted to join asa HR professional

  • Ashley August 16, 2007, 8:39 am

    Holy crap, this is really true! I know I am only seventeen, but when it comes to school, at the end of the day when all the other kids are bouncing up and down in their seats waiting for the last bell to ring, I’m just sitting there using all my strength (or lack thereof) to stay awake. My best times are 6:30 AM-about 1ish PM.

  • Greg (Wise Bread) July 28, 2007, 12:34 am

    I find myself staying up and waking up later since I left my day job to work for myself. I never considered myself a morning person, but those warning signs hit a bit close to home. I think I’ll give the morning shift a try.

    Thanks for the kick in the butt.

  • Slinky June 15, 2007, 2:38 pm

    I definately seem to be one of the odd ones. I am completely unproductive in the mornings. I usually end up dealing with small tasks and correspondence and figuring out what I should be doing today. I have a very hard time doing anything that requires a lot of focus until about 2PM. My peak times seem to be about 2PM-6PM and 10PM-2AM. I can often remain productive and focused after 2AM if it’s something I’m genuinely interested in. I’ve been known to stay up all night trying to get my code to work just right. I would happily stay up all night, watch the sun rise and then go to bed if I could.

  • AgentSully May 23, 2007, 9:30 am

    this is such a good point. I try and do my most creative difficult work in the morning when my brain is clearest. In the afternoon, there is usually a lot of fog in my head! :-)

  • Today is that Day May 22, 2007, 3:55 pm

    Glen – great post! I’m definitely including it in the Link Love post this week.

    I think one of the problems with people realizing and acting on their personal productivity schedules is that a lot of people feel trapped because of the schedule that they are called upon to work by their employer.

    Although that does have merit, there are ways around it, such as acting on your own productivity schedule as much as you can during your workday, and also clearing your “mental plate” during off-duty hours by taking care of things that might be mentally distracting to you while you are at work.

    It’s a lot easier to stay focused and feel confident in your work abilities on the job when you aren’t worrying about all of the loose ends that need to be tied up in your personal life.

    – Aaron

  • marh May 22, 2007, 3:31 pm

    I live/work in Mountain Time Zone for a company that’s in Eastern Time Zone, so I start work about 5:30 a.m.
    Being a global company can also mean meetings with Asia/Pacific in the late afternoon. Don’t know if I could work these hours in a climate with less sunshine.
    Mornings and late-late evenings are my most productive times to work. Afternoons are a bummer.

  • glen May 22, 2007, 3:15 pm

    Yeah, everyone’s different I suppose ;)

  • Martijn Engler May 22, 2007, 1:53 pm

    I’m the exception. ;-)
    I get up at six everyday and start at work around 7… I just can’t. We have to at the moment, but I’m not the person to do this. The problem is I don’t do anything ’till about 12-13h but have to go to bed early to get me through the next day. When I can get up around nine I can work till 5AM and do with just a few hours of sleep.
    When I need to get up early, I need my 8 hours.. And still feel tired.

    Well, we all have our own biorhythms I guess?

  • glen May 21, 2007, 11:25 pm

    Yeah, even a 15 minute nap does wonders as well. At least for me, anyway. Any longer than that I get groggy…

  • Alexander Kharlamov May 21, 2007, 9:17 pm

    If you work for yourself and feel unproductive during afternoon hours, try taking an afternoon nap.

    Unfortunately, I’m not in that position (yet), but on those rare occasions that I don’t have to go the office, I find that an afternoon nap does wonders to my productivity.

    I’m also more of a morning person, as I tend to get stuff done in the morning, but I found that when I wake up from an afternoon nap, I feel greatly refreshed, almost like after a full night’s sleep, and my productivity level surges :-)

  • Lodewijkvdb May 21, 2007, 6:11 pm

    I’m a real evening/night person I guess. My productivity peaks between 11pm and 3am. I get really focussed and get into the flow very easily at that time. I’m blessed with the fact that I only need 5-6 hours of sleep, so my nightly production doesn’t really interfere with the rest of the working world.

    Yet I’m contemplating to start rising very early as well. This is more because of a family point of view. My wife needs a lot of sleep (10 hours a night), my 7 month old son needs a lot of sleep (17 hours a day), and both of them wake up very early (for me anyway). So I’m gradually getting to commit myself to a habit change, and change my night routines to morning routines. I can only hope that I can get into the same flow…

  • Danielle May 21, 2007, 5:49 pm


    I’m the same way and have recently discovered this as well – shifting my work focus to the morning has vastly improved my efficiency.

    I’ll also have to agree with Bryan although I structure mine a bit differently. I focus on moving those tasks that are easiest to get started to the afternoon, when my motivation to start anything has waned.

    Back to the owner of my soul, err… Google Reader (my ultimate afternoon ‘task’).

  • glen May 21, 2007, 5:01 pm

    Josh P: Yeah, I like to get as much done in the morning that I can. It just seems like everything is just a little bit clearer then.

    Occasionally I’ll work some in the evenings, but I try not to.

    Bryan: Not a bad idea!

  • Bryan Villarin May 21, 2007, 4:51 pm

    I think it’s a big deal to create a list of mundane tasks. That way, when you are feeling Jabba the Hutt-ish, you can crank through those without thinking.

    (via GTD Fast, disc 6, I think)

  • Josh P May 21, 2007, 4:25 pm

    This is soooo true. My best working hours are usually before noon or closer to midnight. Come mid-day…I just don’t want to do ANYTHING.

    Do you usually only work the 6-1:30 “shift”? Or do you end up doing more work later on in the evening?