The Myth of 6am

What Some Productivity “Experts” Haven’t Awakened To

Modern life is a collision of two forces: people and days, and more to the point — individuals and hours. This continual conflict has ruined many days for many people. This recurrent crisis cannot be solved, but can be soothed by a clear-headed, hype-free look at the clash between people and the clock.

One of my strange hobbies is reading spam e-mails from self-proclaimed experts who claim they can make me rich by teaching me to be like them. The e-mails brag that these ”experts” in productivity and entrepreneurship are always “crushing it” because they “take total charge” over their days. They often attribute their super-macho productivity to waking up very early in the morning so they can start “crushing it” at 6 am or earlier. Have these “crushers” really triumphed in the battle against the clock by waking up stupid early? Maybe. Let’s look at it without the tough-guy hype.

Let’s talk about hours in the day. People have conveniently broken the day into 24 units called “hours.”

In terms of the day, one hour is equal to any other hour.

This block represents one hour of a person’s time spent on tasks.

In terms of the day, one hour spent on tasks is equal to any other hour.

One hour spent here,

is equal to one hour spent here.

The work gets done either way.

But tasks are performed by people, and for an individual person, one hour is not equal to every other hour. We are finally waking up to the reality that different individuals have different chronotypes. Different people have their peak productivity at different hours of the day. Yes, maybe Mr., Crush-It can be productive at 6 am,

but other people are at their peak productivity at 9 pm.

Or later!

It’s well past time to let go of the myths that go-getters are up and at ’em at 6 am, and those who sleep late are lazy.

The pandemic has helped break the tyranny of the clock dictating when people should work. It has allowed some people to rediscover their natural sleep cycle, a big aspect of their chronotype. Fighting the clock and dealing with the limited number of hours in the day is tough enough; to have to also battle demands and expectations that one should work only at specific hours diminishes productivity and harms people.

An hour of productive work at 9 pm is no different than an hour of productive work at 6 am. What matters is the quality of the work, not when it is performed. The hours in the day when you produce your best work is when you should work. You don’t need to pay Mr. Crush-It to be good to yourself.

Not everyone is at their best starting work in the morning. Employers and society need to respect this. The night owl who works 4 pm to midnight is not lazier than the lark who works from 6 am to 2 pm. In terms of the day, eight hours is eight hours. If both are working hours that fit their chronotype, they are being equally productive.

I hope you all get the chance to find your own chronotype and natural work-sleep-play cycle. Don’t let anyone tell you that your natural cycles are wrong.

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