Five Reasons to Be a Night Owl

When I wrote my recent popular post, Five Reasons to Be A Morning Person, I could not have envisioned I would then go ahead and write the exact opposite article a week later. But alas, my mother had other ideas.

When she received my newsletter in her email inbox (you have signed up, haven’t you?) extolling the benefits of being a morning person, she reacted.

Quickly.

Seeking to defend her species (read: The Night Owl), she sent me a comprehensive list of five reasons to be a night owl. Since some of the comments on the the morning person post brought out such reactions from some of you, I’m hoping that my mother’s words will help everyone see the benefits of living like the other half.

Many folks who are well known as productive, influential leaders do swear by their late night hours. Not only because their bodies have them singing at such hours, but also because they – like my mother – believe that the quiet and stillness of those hours in particular leads to great work. (One recent might owl I stumbled across is professional blogger and podcaster Pat Flynn, of The Smart Passive Income Blog.)

Ultimately, many of my mother’s words focus on the exact sense of stillness and quiet that morning people generally believe is theirs. As I think we can all agree, night owls can have it also.

  1. You can take night walks and the air smells so good, like jasmine sometimes, and it very still outside with lots of stars.
  2. It is quiet in the house and you can read or watch late night talk shows and laugh a lot.
  3. It costs less to run your appliances at night like your washing machine and your dishwasher.
  4. The phone isn’t ringing.
  5. You don’t have to worry about people being nicer or not, because there are no people around.
If you’re a night owl, now’s your time to tell us how you create productivity in those night time hours. What do you do in the wee hours to get you on top of the next day?

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Comments

  1. Ann Chan says:

    “It costs less to run your appliances at night like your washing machine and your dishwasher.” >> oh really? i didn’t know that.. but all in all, I enjoy being a night owl. It is, in a sense, rather calming indeed. Ah, it’s weird but it’s just the feeling I get.. ^.^ Interesting article :)

  2. Claire,
    You and your mother are both right. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, as long as you know what works best for you and stick with it. I know a lot of creative people. Some are morning persons and others, like myself, are night owls. At either extreme, early morning or late night, we’re closer to our creative unconscious, and less subject to the conscious mind’s censorship of originality. Most of the great discoveries have been accidents. Radium and penicillin are two famous examples. How often have you wakened at night with the unexpected answer to a vexing problem? That happens because your creative unconscious never stops working on a problem once it’s been clearly assigned. Such fortuitous “accidents” are not accidents at all but clear indicators of the unconscious mind’s superior creative intelligence. You will often hear creative writers admit that they often don’t know where a story or poem is going until it’s finished. In fact, if it does lead exactly where expected it fails. Morning or night, it doesn’t matter, so long as we still the mind and listen.

  3. How awful would it be if we were all morning people…or all night people? Of course, the world flows better because both types exist. I don’t need to make my specific argument as to why I most certainly function best after the politically correct morning stars have gone to bed. Those points have all been made in the previous comments. But I do know that I have been highly successful functioning as a night owl. In fact, I’ve been working in the same field for 25+ years, but for the past 13 years, I’ve worked from home, during the hours I choose. I have been much more productive and earned a lot of respect in the industry working during the peek hours for my body clock. When I worked in the corporate world during the politically correct hours, I did well, earned promotions, etc., but I was constantly fighting a struggle against my own norm. Getting up early to make it to work on time never became natural to me. No matter what time I go to bed, my body cringes when the alarm clock goes off at 6:30am. Way too many mornings, as I slumbered through the snooze button, I would concoct the most outlandish excuses of why I would need to run late or be out for the day. The whole scenario was very counterproductive. Working on my own time, I can get 3 times as much done, and complete projects much more creatively.

    But, as certain as I am about these hours working best for me, I am also sure that the exact opposite works best for my husband, the early bird. We accept this about each other. However, the corporate world is not as accepting. For the most part, the world functions in the early bird schedule. And most early birds have no tolerance for us night owls. They see it as some kind of weakness, and there is no convincing them that our way is just as ok as their way. Sadly, the result is many of us night owls remain “in the closet” because the world just isn’t ready for us. For years now, I’ve been working the late shift, but my clients don’t know it. Many times, if I finish a report at say 4:00 am, I put a delay on my transmitting email, so it sends at 8:00am, thus giving the impression that I started work very early that day. (Though in reality, I’m fast asleep when the client gets the report.)

    We night owls are clearly the minority in this race – and not a protected minority. Maybe one day the world will accept us, but in the meantime, I will continue sneaking around at night, in the closet!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am a successful software developer and project manager. Ultimately a devote night owl! One advantage I have always known in the wee hours is that everything is quiet and the company networks are faster (since few of us are using them!)

  5. Hi Claire,
    As a self-professed night owl, I’ve been denying the fact (for many years) that if I became a morning person, I’d be more productive, happier, healthier, less stressed, and all that good stuff. I watched my mom do it for years… wake up at 5am, read, have tea, meditate, alone time. The reason I stay up late after the kids are in bed, and after my wife is asleep, is to have that alone time. I might work, catch up on personal email, read, chip away at my DVR queue, etc. Really, nothing that can’t be done in the morning.

    One of these days, I’ll actually get around to converting to “morningism” (ha ha). I just have to say that your 5 reasons to be a morning person are much, much more compelling than your 5 reasons to be a night owl. Anyhow, thanks for the inspiration. I’m about to start a new job, and a new career… sounds like the right time to start waking up earlier.
    Cheers,
    Jonah Otis
    @jonahotis

  6. Picture by Vincent Van Gogh

  7. I find that I do my best work in the wee hours and save mornings for workouts and getting fresh air. Usually don’t start my work day until 10:00am, but I then work until 2 or 3 am.

    I don’t think there is a cookie cutter peak work time for “creatives” or “non-creatives.” I think it still lies with the individual and when they find themselves being the most productive.

  8. What a beautiful picture. Who is the artist?

  9. Claire, I am firmly in the night owl camp. I’ve found that not only is it quiet, but I can work until I’m done with what needs to get done. I won’t be cut off by the beginning of “business hours” when people know you are actually working. It also helps my workflow because I can prep projects so that others can start work on them right away in the morning rather than waiting for me until mid-morning. Morning people and night owls can actually do better (and more) work when they have that type of workflow. They are BOTH necessary!

    • I totally agree, Shannon. Both are needed to get things done in this world;) Although I do find that when I am “Acting” as a night owl I feel “behind” in the morning — because I can’t start as early!

  10. I was wondering if you could further explain how it’s cheaper to run appliances at night… could you elaborate a little further on how it costs less?

    • The running appliances like dishwashers and washing machines at night can save you money depending on if your power company has “non-peak” rates. Not every power company does this, but if they do; you can actually save money. Check with your power company to see if they have rate system that works that way. (Some charge the same rate no matter what time it is.)

  11. Anonymous says:

    See, I find myself looking forward at night. Today’s over, so I can think about tomorrow. And I’m far enough away from tomorrow that I can be very ambitious about my plans for it. Whereas, in the morning, I tend to be more realistic about what I will actually accomplish and, by 9am, I’m already crossing things off my list — not because they’re done, but because I know I won’t actually get to them. At night, it’s all still possible.

    TV is way better at night.

    If you work in a creative field, you can’t be a morning person. I used to be one. I’d get to work bright and early and have a few hours to get things done before the creatives ever arrived and, at first, that made me feel really good. Then, at 6pm or so when I was getting ready to leave, the creatives were just gearing up. So we’d have to meet and review and discuss and I stayed as late as they did. So all it meant to be a morning person is that I worked 2-3 hours more than anyone else.

    And all the things that other people say is lovely about morning is just as lovely at night or later in the morning. I can still sit and have a quiet cup of tea and catch up on the news, even if it’s 9 instead of 6.

    Karen

    • I’ve definitely totally heard from some creatives that night-time is when they can finally work — although I’ve also heard the opposite.

  12. Hi Claire,
    Aren’t parents just wonderful? My daughter is a blogger as I am too and I am always trying to “help” her see the “right way” (the Frank Sinatra way…My Way).

    Apologies to your mother, but I’m with you…a morning person. There is nothing like the freshness of the new day, expectations and possibilities yet to come and the hope of something better.

    At night I am either tired & worn down, often satisfied with achievements but always looking back rather than forward. The end of the day is for reflection and capturing the good that was done or the things you could do better. The start of the day is for planning the direction ahead and setting priorities and goals to be achieved.

    I would rather look forward than look back because you can’t change the past but you can begin each morning to design a new future.
    God bless,
    John

Trackbacks

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