It’s 11:24pm and I am working. I must be doing something right. In three words, nightowlism is awesome. It’s also quite challenging, to be honest. Here are a few remarks, two weeks into my experiment of working at night.
Get earplugs. The first day was… well, the first day. Highly motivated, highly engaged. I got a lot of stuff done, in just two hours from 9:43pm til about midnight. It was a huge hit, but then the morning came. Movement began around me, the dogs started barking and running through the apartment, the kid next door woke up screaming. The day started way too early and I could feel already that the second night wouldn’t be so easy. In the evening, I was tired early on, and day 2 was the first day of skipping.
People and peers. I tried to explain what I was up to to my wife. She smiled and nodded friendly and then asked where we would be going at night. Hmm. Not easy. What’s more, she goes to bed pretty early, and thus also gets up right with the sun. This is, for me, the toughest thing when it comes to nightowlism. As much as I enjoy the atmosphere of working at night, this kind of lifestyle seems to be more appropriate if you are living with other owls, or as a single.
Day 3 of #Nightowlism: I’m getting used to it already. (Plus: A cold, cold beer CAN help productivity!)
Silence. As it turns out, the silence at night is pure gold. Twitter is quiet. (I love leaving it open just to get rid of some thought from time to time, or chime in with the thoughts of others.) There are no kids playing outside, and much fewer cars. It’s also cooler, here in the Caribbean, so that helps a lot.
A cold, cold beer is great in these moments. And yes, it also helps to get the stuff written. I never believed in the theory of rewarding yourself after finishing a productive day. But I do believe that making the productive time more enjoyable by treating yourself nicely while you’re at it can help indeed. Beer is the nightowl’s cup of coffee, or so it seems.
Different times for different tasks. Editing sucks. There’s just no way for me to get it done at night. While this bothered me at first, it’s really a great lesson: Different tasks require different times. Different environments, different flows of energy, different moods probably. A different focus. For me, writing at night comes easy, and it feels totally natural – but when I have to focus on grammatical and spelling errors, or on taking out what’s just not good enough or useful for the post, nights don’t seem to be the right time to do it.
Early bird productivity. This leads to doing things during the day. For example, although I wrote this piece during my night owl sessions, I am editing it now, at 6:48am. This early bird productivity once led me to be unwilling of working at night because I had accomplished so much during the day. I just skipped the evening. (Yes, I’m an idler.)
Two sides of energy management. One thing is not to go swimming until exhaustion right before starting your night shift. Sun is a real killer, too. We all know it: Run around a day sight-seeing or doing errands and you are ready to sleep at 7pm. Not helpful, if you want to become a productive night owl.
The other thing is sitting in front of a computer all day long and then trying to work in the evening. Don’t laugh, it can happen. I was reading about ten hours or so (books are hard to get here, especially if you have an eclectic taste, so it’s 90% ebooks for me), and then wondered why I wasn’t willing to write anything in the evening. Maybe it was because my eyes were bleeding… I couldn’t probably have known that from the start, could I?
Upcoming. I will continue with the experiment. There are still two weeks to go. I don’t even want to talk about this yet, but it seems as if we’re up for another lesson on balance: Instead of trying to work only at night, I’ll probably end up consciously splitting up my tasks over different hours. This seems to be the most productive approach, and with some experimentation it should be doable. What I’m lacking, for now, is an intelligent napping schedule. Sounds like something worth trying…