Not an Early Bird? Here’s How to Win in Business Anyway

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Night owls are living in a world designed for early birds. Growing up, many of us are preached to about the importance of going to bed on time and rising early to get the day started off on the right foot. School tardiness usually comes with a demerit, and the same consequences often exist in adulthood. Therefore, staying up late isn’t typically conducive to success. And there are plenty of famous and successful morning people to help back up this claim.

But contrary to what some might think, many self-professed night owls have managed to find success in business and life, too.

Take, for example, the mayor of New York City, Bill DeBlasio. In 2013, the mayor of the city that never sleeps admitted he’s more of a night owl. “I am not a morning person,” DeBlasio said. In another instance, DeBlasio doubled down and said that “we should reorient our society [to] staying up late …”

For anyone who doesn’t consider themselves an early bird, consider some of these life-changing career tips to take your work to the next level.

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All-Nighters Aren’t All Bad

Inventor Thomas Edison was a proponent of using sleep strategically, whether that meant taking small naps throughout the day or foregoing sleep entirely. Skipping a good night’s rest might not be the healthiest method to obtain success, but Edison was all about efficiency, and laboring straight through the night provided him with a quiet environment where he could work uninterrupted.

“There’s a loss of efficiency when you have to stop work midstream,” said Eric Epstein, author of the “The 24-Hour Genius.” “With an all-nighter, you can com­press a whole phase of a project into a single work session.” Without ringing phones, chatty co-workers, instant messages and incoming emails that come with waking hours, night owls can buckle down and continue riding that flow of creativity.

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Autopilot Your Mornings

If you can, triage your daily job tasks. Shift the more mundane tasks like data entry or expense reports to the morning while you’re still waking up. Once energy finds you, segue to your more complex tasks.

Look: How I Avoid Burnout as an Entrepreneur

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Match Your Biological Clock to the Right Role

In some fields of work, night owls have a competitive advantage. It’s not uncommon for writers to find their spark of genius in the middle of the night. Police officers, firefighters and healthcare practitioners are always needed for around-the-clock coverage. Chefs are typically called on during dinner hours. And hotels need employees for the night shift. You can also create your own hours driving with a rideshare service.

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Shorten Your Commute

If it takes you more than an hour to get to work, consider moving or finding a new job. If those aren’t practical options, ask if you can work from home so you don’t have to set your alarm clock as early.

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Streamline Your Morning Rituals

Know your strengths and adjust your personal life accordingly. If your mornings are hectic, don’t attempt to run errands on your way to work.

Another way you can de-stress your mornings is to take the guesswork out of outfit planning. Consider taking a page from the playbook of some of Silicon Valley’s heaviest hitters, like Mark Zuckerberg, and adopt a uniform.

Find Out: 15 Money Truths Your Successful Friends Won’t Tell You

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Organize Your Days in Advance

When the workday is winding down but you’re still sharp between the ears, take the time to write out your to-do’s and priorities for the following day. When you return to your desk, you’ll have your marching orders.


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Bring Your Work Home (Sorry!)

It’s a drag when you’re firing on all cylinders but the workday ended around 5 p.m. Bringing work home isn’t ideal when you’ve been at work all day long but for those higher order thinking tasks, it’s beneficial for the night owl. But whatever you do, don’t get into the habit of working on the weekends.

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Ask for Different Hours

If you have the flexibility in your current role, ask for your supervisor’s permission to change your work schedule. Adjusting your working hours, or working from home more often, might be easier than fighting your hardwiring.

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Switch to Cold Showers

Nothing will get you going quite like a cold shower in the morning, and once you get past the initial shock of the freezing water, studies have shown you’ll likely experience health benefits such as improved mood, memory and energy. If you can’t get behind the idea of cold showers, for the last 90 seconds of your shower try turning the faucet to cold for 30 seconds, hot for 30 seconds and ending on cold. DASHED CEO Phil Dumontet swears by the ritual.

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Try to Resist Caffeine’s Siren Song

It might sound contradictory, but delay reaching for the java first thing in the morning. Your levels of cortisol (a natural chemical that makes you feel awake and alert) are typically spiking around 8-9 a.m. If you add caffeine to the mix, you’ll actually diminish cortisol’s effects. However, if you operate on a schedule similar to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who doesn’t get out of bed before 10 a.m., you’re in the clear.

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Fuel Your Brain

Forgo the doughnuts, gutbusters and calorie bombs in the morning and opt for foods rich in protein that will provide sustained energy throughout the morning. Eggs, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are all high in protein and help maintain blood sugar levels to stave off spikes and crashes. If you want to get creative, you can pair with a side of fruit, nuts or oatmeal — all of which are high in fiber and nutrient-dense.

Check Out: 20 Inexpensive Foods That Are Heart Healthy

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Get a Daylight Simulation Alarm Clock

A loud jolt from your nightstand isn’t the most pleasant of ways to begin the day. Alarm clocks are a necessary evil, but there’s another way to break up your restful slumber when it’s time to start the day. A daylight simulation alarm clock will still wake you up but in a gentler way. Most begin 30 minutes before the set alarm time and progressively get brighter until it fills your dark room with light. You’ll still have to get out of bed, but it’ll be more natural and without the blaring noises.

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Work From Bed

Some circles consider working from bed an act of sacrilege that kills the rest of the day’s productivity. However, there are some notable exceptions like Box co-founder and CEO Aaron Levie or late prime minister Winston Churchill. Find what works for you.

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Get a Standing Desk

Once you’ve made it to work and fought off the blurriness of early-morning fatigue, don’t sit back down. For the deskbound employee, sitting for eight to nine hours is bad for your health and your productivity.

Instead of sitting, ask your HR department or supervisor for a standing desk. Shown to be more effective in boosting long-term health benefits like lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, standing desks can also increase productivity. Research shows that too much sedentary time can hinder your work performance, and getting up on your feet helps battle job-related fatigue. Major companies like Apple are joining the standing-desk trend. CEO Tim Cook said last year that every employee at the company’s headquarters now has a standing desk.

Discover: 10 Easy Ways to Trim Your Budget and Your Waistline

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Stop Hitting Snooze

When you’re really sleepy, hitting the snooze button to steal a few extra minutes of shut-eye feels like it’s helping  — but it really isn’t. It seems counterintuitive, but getting up when your alarm goes off the first time is the best way to shake the grogginess. Instead of automatically swatting the snooze on your nightstand, place your alarm clock in a place that’s out of reach so you’re forced to get up.

Click through to read about steps to help get your career back on track.

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