It’s almost midnight as I’m writing this and I’m not ready to go to sleep just yet. If the energy is there, why not make the most of it?
I could name at least three of my friends and family members who’ve been asleep for a couple of hours now, and they’ll be up by 6 a.m. tomorrow. Although our schedules and lifestyles are so different, we make it work – each in our own way.
So do the founders and CEOs I talked to recently. Do they like to stay up late? Are they early birds or a combination of both? Here’s what they told me.
Tobias Knobl, Mailbutler: “The afternoons are when I feel more creative.”
“I was always more of a night owl than a morning person until my son was born. Since then, I’ve adjusted my sleeping pattern to meet the needs of my little family. Surprisingly, the change has been easier than I thought.
There’s not one specific time when I am most productive; I usually organize my tasks around different time slots. For example, I try to schedule all my meetings before my 12:30 lunch break. In the morning I’m livelier and find it easier to share ideas with my team.
My lunch break is very important. I leave my workplace for at least 45 minutes. I don’t take any calls or messages – that’s my ‘me’ time where I wind down and clear my head. After lunch, I work on tasks that require more focused, dedicated time and research. The afternoons are when I feel more creative, so I can work on new ideas.
My workdays have changed over the years. I’m a big fan of continuous improvement, so I’m always trying to question the status quo to find a more efficient way to structure my days.
Since I don’t tend to go to any extremes, I would describe my workday as relatively average, so I’ve never felt any kind of social pressure or pride regarding my sleep or work habits. Even if I were to wake up or go to bed at odd times, I think everyone should work however is best for them. What matters most is that we find a way that’s conducive to a happy, healthy and of course, productive work life.”
— Tobias Knobl, CEO of email productivity platform Mailbutler
Liviu Tanase, ZeroBounce: “After 11 p.m., I’m in front of my laptop again.”
“I’m a night owl, no doubt. Even as a student, I would always focus better in the evening and would study late into the night.
However, we don’t always get to follow our natural impulses, so through the years, I’ve adapted to being productive at any time. I manage teams across the U.S. and Europe, so we’re in different time zones. Being there for everyone is important to me, so I start working in the morning and finish late at night.
The first part of the day mostly revolves around communicating with our teams and making sure everything runs smoothly. After my workout at 4 p.m., I might have a call with a partner or touch base again with our COO Brian Minick.
Dinner is my favorite time and I love spending that part of the day with my wife. But after 11 p.m., I’m in front of my laptop again and I usually keep going for a few more hours. That’s when I take care of projects that require more concentration. There are no distractions, just peace and quiet.
There’s this common belief that entrepreneurs have to wake up before the crack of dawn to be successful. While that applies to some of us, I’ve never felt any peer pressure in this regard. To be truly successful – meaning happy and healthy, not just productive – you have to find your own ideal rhythm.”
— Liviu Tanase, Founder and CEO of email validation and deliverability platform ZeroBounce
Andrei Breaz, Bant.io: “I’ve always been more of a night owl.”
“To find my most productive time, I’ve been both a night owl and a morning person. After testing both I realized that it’s just easier to adapt to the environment as that will always be changing.
Of course, you should always contribute to the design of your environment but having complete control over it can be difficult for most of us.
In general, for high-value tasks that require deep thinking and focus time, late afternoon and evening work best for me. The pressure of the day ending combined with a long, uninterrupted block of time allows me to get the work done.
I’ve always been more of a night owl. If I wake up early in the morning, I usually try to get some of the admin tasks done.
I’ve never felt any social pressure regarding my sleep and work habits. On the contrary, I guess there’s a small sense of pride I get about managing to find my most productive time blocks and utilizing them efficiently.”
— Andrei Breaz, Founder of lead generation platform Bant.io
Richard Lau, Logo.com: “I’ve adopted the sleep in two 4-hour phases pattern.”
“I’m a bit of both. I’m a believer that humans are supposed to sleep in two 4-hour phases. So sometimes, I’ll get up at 2 a.m. and work for an hour or two and then go back to bed. Does that qualify as a night owl or a morning person?
I’m most productive when I don’t have distractions of life like deliveries, phone calls, meals, meetings and that’s why I enjoy working after hours. My inbox is silent so I can focus on getting all the replies out and doing deep, important work.
I used to be more of a night owl as I remember many nights in university working late into the night. But over the years, I’ve adopted the sleep in two 4-hour phases pattern.
Everyone has their own style and time of day/night when they’re most productive. I’ve often read about people who get up at 5 a.m. and get a ton of work done before the sun rises. But if you’re not a morning person, that might not work for you.
I’ve always been self-driven for my work habits. And I often get a second wind at 11 p.m. or midnight, but instead of diving into work, I discipline myself to go to bed and get the rest I need to be able to operate at 100% the next day.”
— Richard Lau, Founder of logo and branding platform Logo.com