Work-wise, I function best from around 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., a characteristic I share with roughly one percent of the population. That’s not an easy schedule to live with, so I once tried to train myself into a nine-to-five workday instead. Dismissing my conviction that I wrote better at night as so much Romantic preciousness, I diligently sat down to work each morning, spent eight hours watching the daylight fill and drain outside my window, then finally, well after dark, abruptly found myself able to write. After six months of this insanity—during which I more than doubled my workday without remotely upping my productivity—I gave up and went back to the other, better kind of craziness. The moral applies to every internal clock: Good luck trying to buck it.
Kathryn Schulz reviewed Tim Roenneberg’s new book about how our internal clocks function, and why we are all creatures of habit when it comes to how we prefer to spend our days. Schulz likes to work in the dead of the night, and I can understand why—all of our Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook updates have quieted down, and there are fewer people available on Instant Messenger to distract us from doing our work. I prefer to wake up at 6 a.m. and am most productive before noon. To keep my energy focused on my work, I also have this self-imposed rule that I’m not allowed to go on Tumblr or Facebook during the day (too distracting), but Twitter is allowed because that’s how I get a lot of breaking news (i.e. Meow, the obese cat has died!).
But the most interesting part of Schulz’s book review is her discussion of social jet lag—or how being social messes up our internal clocks, and “leaves [us] with the equilibrium of a despot, the attention span of a toddler, and the working memory of a fire hydrant.” Because of various social obligations, you stay up later on the weekends. Social jet lag messes with your internal clock, which makes you hate having to get back to your routine every week, i.e. A Case of the Mondays. Get some rest tonight.
Photo: Flickr/Phil and Pam