Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Do morning people rule the world?

This research says they do:

New research by Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education at Heidelberg, however, concludes that morning people are more likely to succeed in their careers because they are more proactive than evening people.

He surveyed 367 university students, asking them when they were most energetic and willing to change a situation. It was the morning people who were more likely to agree with statements such as “I feel in charge of making things happen” and “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself.”

Discussing his research in the Harvard Business Review, Randler says: “When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. My earlier research showed that they tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimise them. They're proactive.”


I'm a morning person and I would like to say that morning people get ahead, but I've seen too many computer and tech types who work well into the night who are successful to believe this is true. I think being able to take advantage of the times you do feel the best to do what you need to get done seems to work for most people.

Are you a morning or evening person? Which do you think "get ahead?"

19 Comments:

Blogger wlrock said...

I'm evening.

It's a very interesting topic that I've thought about for years watching my colleagues in certain fields get ahead and correlating it to their "morningness". Once I decided on the technology field in the 80s, I found more business compatability with my "eveningness".

Much of the business leadership in the technology fields have understood this since the 90s when they attempted to make everyone come to work in a suit at 8AM...just like they did. But the engineers rebelled and just went to the competition.

Business leaders learned quickly to adapt and set goals rather than time as a measurement. Like the sales profession who must produce quarterly numbers, as long as the technical teams are able to get their products out on time and at acceptable quality levels, they are free to come and go as they please.

It would be interesting to see a study on how this "experiment" has worked out, but I can tell you that the teams I've worked with who come in between 10-12 in the morning can often be seen pecking into their terminals past midnight.

My open question after reading the article is whether evening people have ever had the rich opportunity provided by the technology revolution, or if they were always "behind" as compared to their morning colleagues?

1:18 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

My earlier research showed that they tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities.

Past research I've read says there's a stronger correlation between height and success than grades. We've had plenty of presidents, and other great leaders, who were average students.

Few of the upper management in my company arrive bright and early. Maybe they used to but they don't now. Plenty of people work late or work during the evenings at home though.

1:24 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Brother J said...

I'm a morning person and think of myself as being succcessful at what I do but my wife is decidedly a night person (sometimes I wonder if she harbors some bat DNA)but she is also a very driven, hard worker, a fact her management has recognized recently with a promotion to business management.

So, I'd take this study with a grain of salt. I don't believe success is determined by what time you go to bed or what time you get up but what you do with the hours you are awake.

1:30 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

I'm presuming the researcher is a morning person.

wrlock -

"My open question after reading the article is whether evening people have ever had the rich opportunity provided by the technology revolution ..."

Many were involved with creating it.

1:35 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Cham said...

I get up with the sun. I get a lot done.

Having said all that, I get a lot done mainly in the evening. I have friends that don't wake up until noon, they work very hard too and are quite productive.

Now if you are on drugs or drink then I can see why you might be a little lethargic about getting out of bed and doing stuff in the morning. Did anyone ask those people that don't wake early what they were doing the day or night beforehand? This study may be flawed.

2:12 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Francis W. Porretto said...

There are aphorisms to both effects:

"The early bird gets the worm." -- traditional.

"The early worm deserves the bird." -- Robert A. Heinlein

Choose according to your tastes.

4:26 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Larry J said...

Once again, correlation does not prove causality. I've always been more of a morning person, especially in the last several years. When I was a programmer, my hours dictated that I be a morning, noon, and night person. You work the hours necessary to get the job done, life be damned.

5:02 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

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6:00 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

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6:07 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

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6:07 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger JG said...

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6:37 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Mario said...

This is a conspiracy of morning persons against night persons going back 10,000 years, since the switch to agrarian societies.

7:41 PM, July 06, 2010  
Blogger Doom said...

Night, but working to change that a bit. Too much business happens during to day to ignore it. One cannot do well in school without at least a semblance of mastery over the sunshine hours. To be honest, I do not even like the sun.

I doubt I will ever be good at this, and should I find a mate and life in which night is fine, I will probably take that option, having just enough day life to do some things like garden, business attention, and shopping from such places as needs require.

I do think, though, that dayers do rule. They do seem more motivated to achieve, more interested in "ruling", and more optimistic and even forceful generally.

Of course, I could be wrong on that a bit. Maybe it just seems so since they are(?) the majority of people (and thus would be more likely to have more of those ruler types, so seem to be on top). I read the article too, a bit back, and do not recall them discussing the raw number breakdown of nighters versus dayers...

2:15 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Inebriated Arsonist said...

I am a definite night person. I like to get up in the early evening and go to bed in the late morning.

I agree with the proposition that morning people have an advantage in academic matters, but only insofar as prevailing hours of school operation mesh with their waking preferences. An average student who is fully awake and ready to learn has a clear advantage over a similar student who is half-asleep and pining for his warm bed. Attendance issues can also be a problem, as students who have difficulty waking up on time are far more likely to arrive late to school and miss valuable instruction time.

This BBC article would seem to confirm my assertions:

At Monkseaton High School, in North Tyneside, 800 pupils aged 13-19 have started lessons at 10am since October.

Early results indicates that general absence has dropped by 8% and persistent absenteeism by 27%.


The article noted that state exam results weren't yet available at the time of writing, so they researchers couldn't confirm any rise in test scores, but I'm willing to bet that there might be at least a small change in the positive direction.

As a night person who suffered through mornings during my junior high and high school years, starting at 10am seems like heaven compared to being in homeroom by 7:45am. I do wonder how my grades would have changed under a 10-5 school day, seeing that my least favorite (and lowest performing) subjects tended to fall during the first few periods of my daily class schedules.

In the realm of business, it is my experience that active discrimination against night people is more of a problem than being half-asleep at your post in the morning. Many members of middle and upper management at the companies I have worked for voiced their opinions that people who prefer second and third-shift jobs are unreliable, anti-social and unworthy of promotion. Some companies use the later shifts as a dumping ground for troubled workers and perpetual screw-ups, and create a self-reinforcing idea that night people can't be trusted. With that sort of viewpoint, people who wish to work later hours are almost automatically assigned negative points by management regardless of work ethic, previous work history, recommendations and such.

To move up in the world of business, conformity is the rule. If the bosses play golf, then you play golf. If the bosses are morning people, then you have to be a morning person. That's just the way it is, sadly.

7:11 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Topher said...

I went to a college where class attendance was mostly optional. Homework, projects and exams determined your grade. Some lectures were useless, taught by tenured professors who didn't care about teaching or professors with a poor grasp of the vernacular.

Both morning and night people succeeded...no matter the style, we usually found it was more time-effective to skip lecture and instead study with that time. As for me I do my best work after the sun goes down. Not sure why, I just do.

I back up the sentiment above that the author is probably a morning person. Not all morning people are anal-retentive busybodies, but some are, and are likely to employ some confirmation bias to explain why they are successful.

Type-A's are pathologically distrustful of people who like to ruminate on big decisions and probably associate night people with partiers and other social detritus. Nighttime is the only time some of us can get anything done away from the hawkeyes of these busybodies.

One other thing. If you live on the west coast, being a morning person has serious benefits since your wake schedule is in line with peak East Coast working hours.

9:23 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger LPF said...

"...but I've seen too many computer and tech types who work well into the night who are successful to believe this is true."

Depends on how you define successful. The late night tech types can make good money, and be happy & successful at their jobs, but unless they are in on the ground floor of a start-up with tons of stock options (increasingly rare), they aren't going to become wealthy. They aren't the people running and owning the company or raking in sales bonuses and commissions. Most of them toil away in relative anonymity for an (admittedly good) salary. In fact, being good at a tech job often requires a late schedule precisely to avoid morning people. Paul Graham has an excellent essay on it titled "Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule"



With a few exceptions, you aren't going to 'make it big' working for someone else. It takes risk and entrepreneurial spirit to get there.

11:14 AM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

I raised a good, intelligent person who is now raising two good, intelligent people and is fully employed with fine prospects. That's my definition of successful. All else is icing.

1:49 PM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger randian said...

If morning people are indeed more successful, I'd argue that prejudice has as much to do with it as anything. "early to bed, early to rise..." Sayings like that make treating night people like dirt (and certainly not promoting them) almost obligatory. Don't forget people with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome. If you have it and still must get up early, it's like living life with permanent jet lag.

3:37 PM, July 07, 2010  
Blogger Double Minded Man said...

The fact that the vast majority of businesses work during the early portion of the day ensures that morning people will achieve greater success. As more businesses move to flexible schedules the more that it will even out between early birds and night owls.

2:21 AM, July 08, 2010  

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