This voluntary quarantine has really amplified some things I’ve known or suspected about myself for a long time.
I am both a night owl and a morning person. But I also am better off getting eight hours of sleep, which means I should sleep in the afternoon.
Not only that, but my most productive hours come in two four-hour segments: 6 AM to 10 AM, and 7 PM to 11 PM. (Those times are not exact, because they change based on when the sun rises and sets.)
So my best sleeping hours are midnight to 6 AM, and then again from 2 PM to 4 PM.
If I try to go to sleep earlier, at say 10 PM, all that happens is that I wake up at 4 AM ready to go. But my body is unhappy because it will be too long before the sun rises. So it’s like I’m stuck in limbo.
If I try to do work that requires a high level of creativity or focus during the middle of the day, all that happens is I get worn out. My work does not meet my expectations. And then I have to “relax” in the evening, thus missing out on some of my most productive hours entirely. So I get less done and, worse, what I get done is done poorly.
Many creative people throughout history have focused on the first four hours of the day. It’s almost a stereotype. In fact some of the greatest writers and composers only worked those first four hours and then just quit. The stereotype is true for me too, except that the last four hours of the day are just as productive. And not only that, but night time brings out a specific form of creativity that seems uninterested in the sun.
For me, at least, there really is a moonlit, musical, intense creativity and mystical focus that belongs to the night, and a completely different animal that awakes at dawn. Twilight’s spirit is a woman, while mornings are masculine.
And on top of all this, when I only do creative work during those prime hours, I do not need days off!
So if I want to be at my maximum level of productivity, the best thing for me to do between 10 AM and 2 PM is goof off, preferably outside. Sleep from 2 PM to 4 PM, and then eat. Fasting does not work for everyone but it works for me, and eating only one meal a day is ideal for me. When I live like that, I do not need time off and I do not need to relax or unwind.
Now here’s something obvious. My body’s rhythm is just about the exact opposite of a nine to five work schedule. No wonder my favorite part of being an entrepreneur is setting my own hours!
And believe me, I am aware that I can pull this schedule off because so much of my work can be done from home, or can be scheduled at my convenience. Many people do not have this luxury.
But I am also aware that some of my artist, work-from-home and entrepreneur friends are currently burning themselves out trying to follow daily routines that disagree with their body’s rhythms.
Folks, when you ignore your biological clocks your body is going to get revenge on you. And that revenge is going to look like stress, burnout, chronic illnesses, indigestion, brain fog, fatigue, anger, needless conflict, pointless arguments, achy joints and blocked creativity. In the end, it will look like crappy work that just has to get redone anyway, missed opportunities, and general dissatisfaction.
I have no idea what your body’s rhythms are. They are probably quite different from mine. But for some of you reading this, maybe one good thing that can come from this quarantine is that you finally have society’s permission to discover what your body’s actual rhythms are.