Improving Productivity 1 - Exploiting your Chronotype
Table of Contents
So you know how people talk about being a “morning person” or a “night owl”? Turns out this actually has scientific backing, and that different people have different patterns of work (who would have thought 🙄). Certain genes, such as the PER1, 2, and 3 genes, affect your ability to be awake and function properly (I know it sounds a bit sketch, but here’s a short list of scientific papers on it).
People broadly tend to fall into 4 chronotype categories, which are usually named after animals but I think that’s cringe so I’m gonna give them Proper Scientific Acronyms™ (with absolutely no justification for doing so to be honest).
EAM (Early AM, usually called “Lions”)
The EAM group tends to easily wake up earlier, and are therefore most productive in the morning. If you find yourself waking up early just because, this is probably you.
EAM people tend to study best in the morning, so if this is you, your optimal study method is probably to wake up early and study rather than try to stay up late.
Okay so this part is a bit of an academic blunder for me. The inspiration for this part of this article was based on a post from a productivity blog I’ve been following for a while now, which posted about sleep patterns and productivity about 3 years ago. The issue is that in going back and actually reading the content to give a proper summary, none of their sources say what they’re supposed to. For example, they use a paper about the links between chronotypes and cardiovascular health in women which concludes that women with evening chronotypes tend to have worse cardiovascular health. This article, with no other sources, claims that this is because the way the modern world works is because “many of society’s structures around work and school favor morning chronotypes over evening”. Except they do have another source, a wellness coach with no visible clinical experience in sleep science OR genetics.
However, this article’s advice has worked for me, and the scientific research I could find seems to match up with what they say fairly well. As it is though, take everything in this section with a grain of salt (as you should everything on the internet).
- Pranav 👾
Circadians (usually called “Bears”)
The circadian group has an energy cycle which tracks extremely closely with the pattern of the sun, hence “circadian”. While they might get less done over a small period of the day than EAM’s, they’ll achieve significantly more than EAM’s after noon.
Basically any time the sun is up is optimal if you fall into this category. Ideally, hit the books straight after school rather than delaying it until you’re tired. You won’t get as much done by waking up earlier, so don’t bother unless its an emergency.
Owls (I didn’t change this one)
Owls, as the name suggests, tend to function best at night. This group is usually asleep well past midday where possible, but also goes to bed about the same time the EAM’s get up (where possible).
If you’re in this group, its best to study later, when you’re more awake. Also, this is the group which benefits the most from the glories of caffeine, so if you fall in this group, you’re saving money by not needing as much coffee/tea/Monster. However, this group is more susceptible to problems like screen fatigue, as eye strain is notably more pronounced at night (when it’s darker). We’ve got an upcoming post on how to reduce eye strain though, so keep a lookout for that.
Dolphins (Didn’t change this one either)
Dolphins are just… all over the place. Y’all don’t sleep well at night, but can’t stay awake in the day, but still want to sleep at night and be awake during the day. Essentially owls but with more spread-out tiredness.
Dolphins can work basically any time from sunset to sunrise, although they function best right around twilight hours for some reason. Also, apparently a disproportionate amount of chefs in Finland have this phenotype, so do with that information what you will.
So this post was actually supposed to cover 5 different methods of improving productivity, but the little rant in the middle ended up taking over a huge chunk of my target word count, and I don’t want to remove it because academic integrity and also it’s my post so cry more. Instead, keep notification bells on for part 2, where we look at 4̶3 methods for improving productivity 😄