Mar 23 2012


Okay, this week’s been a slow week for getting stuff done – besides some playtesting and bugfixing – so here’s some SCIENCE:

The Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire

Everyone has a body clock. Right? Your body synchronises with the rising and setting of the sun, making you more alert and active at certain times of day and more tired, cold and confused at others.

Now, not everyone’s works the same. Some people tend towards “morning”, which means that their daily peak of physical and mental energy is early in the day and near when they naturally wake up. Such people tend to get up earlier than everyone else, go for runs at 6am, that sort of thing.

Then there are “evening” people. Their peak is in the evening, nearer sunset. They tend to stay up, work late into the night and feel like crap in the morning. I’m one. It has its advantages, but if you’re expected to be in an office by 9am, it can kinda suck 😀

Most people fall somewhere in the middle. Anyway, there are a few important things about this cycle and getting the best out of it:

  1. You can’t really change where you fall on this axis. Based on identical twin studies, around 50% of it is genetic; even if you could totally retrain yourself it might not be possible to flip from one extreme to the other. Whatever point during your waking day you feel your best at, you’re pretty much stuck with that.
  2. You’ll find it easiest to focus during your peak time. This is anecdotal, I know, but I’ve never been able to get more than an hour’s work or so done before lunch. Other people start to run out of steam after 3pm. If you’ve got the freedom to set your own hours, you might find structuring your hours around your peak time works best.
  3. You might find creative, lateral thinking tasks easier outside of your peak time. Really. If you don’t have the freedom to set your own hours, try loading research, high-level planning and design tasks into your “down time” and leave implementation tasks for when you’re at your best.
  4. Bright electric light can throw off your body clock. It’s not nearly as huge a factor as the sun – you can’t fool yourself completely unless you never go outside – but having bright lights on late into the night can delay your body clock a bit, pushing the whole thing later. If you’re a strong ‘evening’ type who struggles to get up in the mornings this may make the issue worse. Managing light levels in the evening can help adjust your body clock to shift things where you need it.

The idea that everyone should be able to get up and work hard from sunrise is daft. Some people can do it and even find it easy – but we’re not all programmed that way! You can adjust your body clock a little, with care, but shifting work around to when it suits your body clock where you can is a much quicker way to make things click.

I’ve started shifting my working day back to 2pm-10pm when I get the chance and I totally get an extra hour or two’s work in every time. I’m finding doing this once or twice a week works well for me – productively, at least. I’ll admit it’s not the best social schedule. 😀