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5 Tips for Night Owls in the Early-Riser's Corporate World

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Society tends to assume that people who get to bed early and wake up at the crack of dawn lead more productive lives, but that's not necessarily true. Some of us thrive in the late-night hours, but get just as much done as our early-rising counterparts – just during a different part of the day. Even so, the working world isn't friendly to late-risers, and night owls with day jobs often struggle with productivity and creating a workable sleep schedule.

Still, it's possible for those who don't rise early to get the worm anyway. Here's how.

1. Make a Cheat Sheet

As suggested by workplace expert Anita Bruzzese in, daytime workers with nocturnal tendencies might benefit from making up a work cheat sheet the day before. If you naturally wake up late, your brain is probably still fuzzy by that 9 a.m. roll call at work, hindering your productivity. Do yourself a favor by taking a few minutes at the end of each workday to create a to-do list for the following morning. Include as many details as possible in your cheat sheet: where you left off on all your current projects, people you still need to call or email, tasks you have to complete and your deadlines for completing them. This morning map will help guide you through the first few working hours, even while your mind remains in a haze.

2. Set Ground Rules

Your body might not care how late it sleeps, but your career does. Try to moderate your late-rising habits, even on the weekends, to make your work schedule more doable and keep your biological clock in check. According to LifeHacker, sleeping into the afternoon can put a dent in your circadian rhythm, throwing away daylight hours and making it harder to get to sleep at a reasonable time on coming weeknights. Set a cut-off time for your sleeping hours in the morning, and for your waking hours at night, as well. It might seem difficult to wind down after a productive night, but keeping regularly late work hours can throw off your schedule, especially if you have to be at work in the morning. When you hit your cut-off time at night, do something relaxing, like reading or listening to calming music, to help ease you into sleep.

3. Take Power Naps

Naps might seem counter-intuitive, but according to Startup Mindset, they can actually be your best friend. Night owls tend to feel a drop of energy in the afternoon, especially if they have to get up early. If you find yourself hitting a wall of exhaustion and lethargy in the afternoon hours, consider recharging with a short power nap, something like 20 minutes. If you're in an office in the afternoon, never fear – there are ways to slip in a power nap to help boost your afternoon productivity, without taking heat for it. Inc. suggests parking in a secluded spot each morning and taking your workday nap in your car. You might also be able to sneak a nap under your desk, in a conference room or even at home on your lunch break.

4. Expedite Your Morning Routine

Everyone should keep a morning routine in place – even notorious late-risers. However, if you prefer to sleep in, you'll want to streamline your routine to keep it snappy and efficient. Prepare for your morning each night with the following steps:

  • Make and pack your breakfast and lunch
  • Lay out your clothes
  • Gather whatever you need for work (laptop, briefcase, etc.)
  • Shower

Completing these tasks can shave a solid hour off your morning routine, while still allowing you time to eat breakfast and dress well in the mornings, and show up to work with your lunch and all the materials you need. You'll look just like your coworkers who popped out of bed at 6 a.m. No one has to know.

5. Make Friends With Your Coffee Maker

"I can't do anything before I've had my coffee." It's a cliche. But cliches are cliche for a reason: They're usually true. And for night owls, the coffee dependency cliche is especially valid. Take up a morning cup (or two) of coffee (or caffeinated tea) to help keep you alert and aware, even in those typically hazy morning hours. Give yourself a cut-off time for caffeine intake, however, to keep your newfound habit from affecting your sleep routine. It's not a perfect solution, but it's an effective one – plus, haven't you always wanted to say that you can't do anything before you've had your coffee?


Brenna Swanston is a freelance writer, editor and journalist. She previously reported for the Sun newspaper in Santa Maria, California, and she holds a bachelor's in journalism from California Polytechnic State University.

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