How to hack your Chronotype to create your ideal work day and increase productivity
It’s 2016, and I’m a senior in college, writing a 20-page research paper in one night. Call it irresponsible, procrastination, or just oh so typically millennial, but back in those days, past 10 pm, I could basically do magic.
Nowadays, however, my brain is checked out by 10 pm, and if not already in bed, I’m practically asleep on the couch. This change has to do with a change in chronotypes that happens when you reach adulthood. Your Chronotype determines your most productive times of the day related to your circadian rhythm and sleep cycles.
Most of us are raised in a 9-5 Monday through Friday world, but not everyone is necessarily built for that. As a creative entrepreneur, you have the power to work when you want, where you want. That’s the shiny, glittery thing we all want, FREEDOM. Yet, when it comes time to sit down and do the work, that whole work whenever you want thing is a little more complicated.
No one ever taught us how to create our own schedule, much less than our day can look however we want it to. We all went to school at the same time, switched classes at the same time, and went home at the same time. Learning about my Chronotype helped me better understand my brain and how I could design my workday around it to do more in less time.
Pillars of Productivity
Productivity is the buzzword of all buzzwords these days, it seems. In my opinion, the word productivity actually has some negative connotations. Production = machines and we are people, not machines. As a recovering people pleaser and workaholic, instead of focusing on productivity, I like to focus on ways to get myself into a “flow state” where I am fully present in the task at hand and working effortlessly. Here are my go-to’s for being in a flow state
So what exactly is your Chronotype?
“Chronotype is the natural inclination of your body to sleep at a specific time, or what most people understand as an early bird versus a night owl. In addition to regulating sleep and wake times, your Chronotype influences appetite, exercise, and core body temperature. It is responsible for feeling more alert at specific periods of the day and sleepier at others.”
Remember that story from college me? The change in times of alertness and productivity is because your Chronotype changes throughout your life, including when you reach adulthood. Other factors that determine your Chronotype are genetics and hormones. There are four types of chronotypes are…
Each of these chronotypes has different times of the day when they are most productive. For the purposes of this blog, let’s look at it this way, each of these types of people can access their “flow state” at different times of the day (and are therefore the most productive at those times).
Everyone can access three types of flow states regardless of their Chronotype.
Depending on your Chronotype, you can access these flow states at different times throughout the day.
But what does this have to do with your business?
I started working for myself part-time in 2016 and then full-time in 2020. For years I day-dreamt, journaled, manifested, and researched, hoping to find a daily work routine that allowed me to work less and create more, access a flow state, and that would unfold in a way that felt easy.
It wasn’t until I discovered my chrono-type, stopped worrying about adhering to a 9-5 (not that there is anything wrong with that) and started to design my days so that my tasks lined up with the flow states that I felt like I finally got to a point where I was able to manage my workload with less stress. As a creative entrepreneur, knowing my Chronotype has helped me grant myself grace, release societal expectations around work, and embrace more of the flexibility that an entrepreneur should allow.
How do you find out your own Chronotype?
You can take this quiz, but (if you can) I would also encourage you to quit your morning alarm for a week or two and see what time you wake up naturally. Many of us (including myself) are trained to a partner’s work schedule and wake up to an alarm daily, sometimes at weird hours or varying shifts.
In reality, some people (like most wolves and dolphins) are neurologically not wired to fit in with our beer-centric society but have to set that 5 am alarm anyways. For years I adhered to the “successful people wake up at 5 am” belief system, but that never worked for me. It didn’t matter how early I woke up; I was never really productive until at least 9 am.
Flashing back to my student teaching days, my 1hr commute, and eating breakfast while driving to keep myself from falling back asleep (yes, you read that correctly). I dreaded the thought of pushing myself out the door through bumper-to-bumper traffic, trying to be on time, and talking and being nice to my coworkers and students (before 9 am). I’m just not that person. I’m the person that rarely answers the phone or checks email before 2 pm.
For years I felt ashamed that not wanting to have to be in the city by 7 am was a deciding factor in my choice not to teach. It’s taken a couple of stories to get here but what I am trying to say is that you may be forcing yourself to work a schedule that is entirely out of whack with your Chronotype. Still, the good news is, if you are a creative entrepreneur (and if you’re reading this blog, chances are you are), you have the power and blessing to choose when you work, build your schedule and organize your tasks accordingly. Does anyone else want to just quit their alarm clock for a couple of weeks and see what happens with me?
For a deep and personalized dive on creating your ideal work week and day using a batch day system and your Chronotype, join me for the first of The Cedar June Summer Workshop series – The Quarterly Drop-In, on Friday, June 24th.