I’m sure I’m not the only night owl frustrated by all the gurus telling me about being productive.
I like you Tim Ferriss. But making my bed first thing doesn’t put me in the mindset that I’m achieving things early on. It’s flicking a duvet, not running a half marathon.
Brian Tracy is going to tell you to Eat the Frog, and I get it, but my lovely morning lark will tell you that I struggle to have a conversation first thing in the mornings.
As a night owl, eating a big ugly frog just isn’t going to happen.
From most of the books on my shelf, the formula is very much the same. Work hard and earn yourself a reward (if the work in itself isn’t reward enough).
It’s not in my nature to go to the gym so that I can have a guilt free choccy bar. Instead I’m more motivated to go to the gym if I’ve had already had a little indulgence.
I might be too distracted to initiate an unconditional act of kindness, but I’m twice as likely to want to repay one which I’ve received.
A friend recently said I could motivate myself to achieve anything though guilt
This might be something to do with being embarrassingly English by nature. Being indebted does not sit well with me.
For me, receiving something generates an energy to repay, and to a larger degree removes my ‘choice’ as to whether to do it or not (I’m currently contemplating whether this is just the trait for many of the owls out there).
When I need to do something which I know needs doing, but I’m lacking the motivation. I could either…
Scenario 1: Wake up with the task on my mind, remember what all the super productive authors of the books on my shelf have taught me and aim to have the best part of the task done by midday!
At this point I can treat myself to a biscuit with my coffee or a 10 minute walk in the sun.
The reality of how thos scenario actually play out for someone like me is that I will sit at my desk and decide I should probably check one or more social media feeds in case one of my friends has actually achieved something interesting.
By midday, having not eaten even a tadpole, I curse myself for being a hopeless charlatan and conclude someone better should be doing this.
Motivation score: -4
Scenario 2: Morning wee and back to bed with coffee because I need to know what the next chapter of my book is going to reveal. An hour later, after yet another plot twist I make it downstairs.
I go to the gym because I get to hang out with my neighbour who’s just one of the many joys in my life.
Back home for coffee and fuel and a check in with a colleague or friend for no apparent reason.
I now sit at my desk feeling awake, grateful, joyful. My big task is no longer an ugly frog, but a minor chore. I start it, it’s moderately laborious, and it’s done.
I’m now in the zone and beaver on without the distraction that I should get in touch with people I care about / go to the gym etc. With all of that behind me, I can work comfortably into the evening.
Motivation score: +8
Most of the books on my shelf have left some really valuable nuggets, but the best ones have taught me to find our own path.
I’d be very interested to know your alternative approaches to productivity which fly in the face of conventional wisdom.
Are you a morning lark or a night owl?
What systems and habits set you up for a productive day?
Email me, I’d love to hear from you…
Tony Richardson is LarkOwl’s Commercial Development Consultant.
He can help you with setting up a new commercial venture or ensuring an existing one is as profitable as it can be.
He also writes business plans in preparation for capital fundraising projects and supports non profit boards with planning, visioning and operational management.