Productivity Showdown: Night Owls vs. Early Birds
The creative world is slowly being dominated by two types of extreme workers: early birds and night owls. Both fare well when it comes to meeting deadlines and creating good results. However, they also make lifestyle sacrifices in order to keep up with their tasks.
Scientists have factored out chronotype —– a person's disposition towards the timing of their daily activities. This determines one’s early bird or night owl tendencies. Some may fall in either extreme ends, others can be intermediate.
Early birds, for one, are creatives who jump out of bed at the first ring of their alarm clock. Their motto? "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a (wo)man healthy, wealthy and wise." You'll find them chugging their daily caffeine in a venti size and grinding on adrenaline beginning in the wee hours while everyone else is sleeping.
Nights owls, on the other hand, are the complete opposite. They can be found flickering out early in the morning. They can't think properly and require four hours to get their brains warmed up. At 3 p.m., however, you'll find the situation has changed. These creatures are at their desks, calculating and creating things to perfection, and they can go all the way till the wee hours in the morning without feeling exhausted.
Oxford University, Northumbria University and the Higher School of Economics put together a study that reveals the chronotypes of an early bird and a night owl. Twenty-six volunteers were asked to stay awake from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next day. During the start and end period, they filled up two tests: An Attention Network Test to measure their work efficiency, and a Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire to assess their respective chronotypes.
Both groups scored comparably on both exams, but one discovery led the researchers to point out the night owls' advantage over the early birds. Early birds completed the 2 a.m. tests faster, but less carefully. The night owls, however, took their time and successfully gave more accurate answers. As a result, early birds worked faster, but night owls were more precise.
Working schedules, however, have a big effect on health. Night owls, in order to keep themselves awake, are inclined to tobacco and alcohol use. They are also prone to stress eating and has greater risks of depression. Early birds get the better end; they were found to have greater stamina throughout the day, thanks to a good deal of sunlight and morning movement. The Larks, as scientists call the early risers, also have better moods at work — an important factor in keeping the office healthy, from a social and emotional standpoint.
Last but not the least, early birds tend to procrastinate less.
So who wins in our productivity showdown? On an average, night owls displayed better accuracy, finesse and brilliance at work. However, early birds showcase consistency, good attitude and proactivity in the office. All in all, both chronotypes are capable and creative, given their much deserved breaks and good hours of sleep — according to their body clock’s schedules.