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When do you do your best creative work? Do you know? Should you know?

by Adam Driver

I do my best creative work later in the day. Even at night. No doubt.

Ideas, research, social listening, blogging. For some reason, I find it easier to ‘get into the flow’, especially with the latter.

I mean, I’m writing this now on a Sunday evening on the sofa, dog sleeping by my side. Podcast on. I’ll probably be here past midnight.

I love it; I go down the rabbit hole. Doing research, Googling, finding things out, unravelling those pieces of string in my head. Sometimes I go too far, and find myself having to PUT THE LAPTOP DOWN.

The science*

For instance, I was just reading about the ‘Gene that tells the time for bed’ and chronotypes. Did you know if you have a long PER3 gene, you’re more likely to be an early riser, and you need a decent block of sleep to feel good. If you’ve a shorter PER3 gene, you’re a late riser, and can get by on less sleep.

Your chronotype is your individual genetic inclination to sleep during a 24-hour period – aka your body clock.

It is the behavioural combination of your body’s hundreds/thousands/millions of underlying circadian rhythms in body parts, organs, cells etc. (Note – not to be confused with Circadium, a US higher education programme for circus performers, which sounds awesome, frankly).

Chronotypes lean towards extremes of moringness or eveningness, hence the morning lark and night owl phrases. Also known as A-people and B-people in Denmark. Little bit judgemental, if you ask me…

Research has also indicated there may even be a slight gender difference, with women leaning more towards morning-type and men favouring evenings.

It’s not set in stone

Kids are more likely to be morning larks, adapting to become night owls in/after teenage years, before dialling back to early mornings as adulthood progresses. Resonates with me, generally. How about you?

However, my tendency is to be far more creative in the afternoon/evening, for some reason. And it seems I’m not alone. I agree with editor extraordinaire Darren who says “admin tasks in the am, creative thinking in the pm.”

Maybe I can still not shake the rhythm of university – I left more than a decade ago – where I’m staying up late, trying to get the ‘most’ out of the day.

Neurodiversity at work

Everyone not being the same has benefits across life. Accepting diversity of all forms in the modern workplace is (thankfully) becoming more accepted.

It is an advantage to speak to, hear from and work alongside people wired differently from “neurotypical” people – bringing new perspectives to a challenge, issue or problem.

It would be a weird old world if we were all the same. Could it work having brainstorms at different times, or empowering colleagues to do more creative work at a time that suits them? Anyone got any experience of this?

Coming clean

The real reason I started writing this was to find out if other communicators worked at the same time of night, to see if I was in a minority. I know of a few people that do, as we chat in the early hours.

Are we alone in our burning of the midnight oil? Why does my brain speed up and feel busy in the evening, no matter how long I’ve been working during the day?

So, what are you? An early riser, someone who works better later, or a mix of both? Let me know.


Night Owl Driver.

*If you’re a scientist, please bear with me…

Adam is MD and founder of Authentic Comms Strategic Consultancy Ltd. You can find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, and sign up to his blog here.

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Image via The National Library of Wales

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