Early bird or night owl? Outdated. Bear, dolphin, lion or wolf!

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The concept of ‘early birds’ and ‘night owls’ is outdated! The American sleep doctor Michael Breus has a more recent and more detailed theory. He wrote a book about four so-called chronotypes: bear, lion, wolf, and dolphin.

In his book ‘The power of sleep,’ the certified sleep specialist Breus claims that there will be no productivity issues, excess caffeine intake, and sleep deprivation if you follow your chronotype lifestyle. You can also implement strategies, i.e., the use of(productivity tools) during your peak productive hours to help you measure and maximize productivity.

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Breus builds his theory on falling asleep and waking up habits and energy patterns of each type. And he says: ‘Knowing not to act like a wolf when you’re really a bear can help you have less painful wake-ups, fewer after-lunch slumps, and more productive workdays overall.’

You can take a free ‘What’s Your Chronotype?’ quiz. After passing it, you’ll receive a personalized video-commentary from Michael Breus about general advice of your “type.”

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Redesigning your workday for better productivity using your sleep habits

Understanding your chronotype is incredibly important as it can influence every aspect of your life, from your sleep cycle to your productivity. Knowing the best times you’re are more productive will help you make the most of it, whether it’s changing your schedule or getting best productivity tools to help you make the most of your peak productive hours.

Breus maintains that your chronotype can outline a roadmap for benefiting
from the body’s natural energy patterns. Let’s look at what might be the ideal working day for all four chronotypes, according to Michael:

Bears are 50%–55% of the population.“They are the ‘get it done’ group,” says Breus. “They have normal sleep schedules, but they probably don’t get enough sleep.”

Morning habits: 7-11 AM

  • Wake up gently (watch this video on how to do it).
  • Eat a light breakfast of fruit, yogurt, nuts, water.
  • Take 10-20 minutes to plan your day.
  • After then, you can have your morning coffee.

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Peak productive working hours: 11AM – 6PM

  • Start with the hardest time and attention consuming tasks.(This will be a good time to implement a time & productivity tracking tool to help you stay focus and manage your time.
  • Take a walk and have an early lunch to remind your body it’s time to be active. This will give you an energy boost to complete complex tasks.
  • At about 2 PM your energy will start getting low, but you’ll be in an excellent mood for meetings, brainstorms, and a heavy afternoon.

After-work habits: 6–10PM

  • It’s a good time for your routine workout.
  • After exercising have a light low-carb dinner.
  • Socialize after dinner if you wish or have a good read.

End of the day habit: 10-11PM

  • Turn off your devices at 10PM.
  • Switch off the lights by 11PM. It’s quite easy for bears to stay up late, but after that, they struggle with waking up on time the next day.

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“Lions wake up without an alarm, and it’s usually dark,” says Breus. Typically, they “send emails before most people get up” and make up about 15 percent of the population.

Morning habits: 5:30–10 AM

  • Wake up around 5:30AM before or without any alarm. Watch the recommendations on light exposure here
  • Have a high-protein and low-carb (or even zero carbs) breakfast at 6AM.
  • Meditate for up to an hour (if you practice this), or go for your usual workout.
  • Have your morning coffee at 9AM.

Peak productive working hours: 10 AM–5 PM

  • Have a small snack (a protein bar or something like that) because you had breakfast a couple of hours ago.
  • Immerse yourself in the most complex tasks (projects, meetings etc). Try incorporating a time & productivity tracking tool to keep you focused on these tasks.
  • Have a productive break: network with someone or have lunch with a colleague.
  • 1–2:30 PM: good time for a brainstorm.
  • After 3 PM: focus on easy (administrative) tasks that do not require to much concentration.

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After work habits: 5 – 9:30PM

  • Leave the office earlier if it’s possible (4:30 – 5PM) because your energy will start to wane.
  • Do your usual workout, if you haven’t already done it in the morning. This will give you a boost of energy for the rest of the evening.
  • Make sure to have a balanced dinner.

End of the day habits: 9:30 –10:30PM

  • You may still have some energy to spend time with your family or friends, but you won’t be 100% engaged for sure.
  • Switch off the lights at 10:30PM

“Wolves make up 15–20% of the population”, says Breus.”They hate mornings and usually hit the snooze button multiple times. They are late to work, and usually on their third cup of coffee by 9 AM”

Morning habits: 7:30 AM – 12 PM

  • Set an alarm for 7, but let it snooze for 1-2 times to sleep in for another 20–30 min, then get out of bed. It’s not going to be easy.
  • Drink a glass of water. The window sunlight will help you wake up.
  • Go for a 20–40-minute walk or a bike ride whatever you prefer, try to brainstorm a bit.
  • Outline your plan for the day, but do not start working on tasks.
  • 11AM: have a cup of coffee. Watch Breus advice on Caffeine Fading for Wolves in this video.

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Peak productive working hours: 12 – 8PM

  • Complete the complex tasks until lunchtime or 1 PM.
  • 2PM: you’ll be at the peak of your productive hours.Concentrate on the hardest tasks on your plan. Use a time & productivity tracking tool to fully maximise this period.
  • 5PM: you’ll still have some strength to carry on, have a snack and keep working. Early evening is the most creative and energized time for you.

After-work habits: 8 – 11PM

  • After your workday is over, you can workout at 7-8 PM.
  • Have a late dinner (8 – 9PM).

End of the day habits: 11PM – 12AM

  • Start turning all your devices off at 11PM.
  • It’s easy for you to stay up late,but it’ll be hard to start up early the next morning, so you might want to switch off the lights by 12AM.

“Dolphins are anxious people who have irregular sleep schedules,” says Breus, who estimates that 10% of people belong to this chronotype. “They often self-diagnose as insomniacs and send emails all night long.”

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Morning habits: 6 – 10AM

  • Get out of bed and go for a jog. Get some morning sun.
  • Take a cool shower by 7:30AM.
  • Have breakfast at around 8AM: carbs + protein, no caffeine (yet).
  • Make your to-do list for the day, but do not start working on tasks until you’ve had your first coffee.

Peak productivity working hours: 10AM – 6PM

  • Have a small half-decaf coffee (9:30 to 10AM). Watch Michael Breus’ advice on ‘Caffeine Fading for Dolphins’ in this video:
  • 10 AM – noon: your peak creative time, so accomplish the toughest goals for the day. Time and productivity tracking software should help keep distractions away and keep you on track during this time.
  • After lunch (by 1PM), you’ll feel a little tired, so go out and grab some fresh air for 15-20 minutes.
  • By Late afternoon, you’ll be the most focused, so complete all detailed tasks until 6PM.

After-work habits: 6 AM–10PM

  • Go for a light workout after work. No high-intensity exercises: they may keep you awake for longer than you’d like.
  • Have dinner at 7PM. Also, this may be a good time to spend time with partners, family or friends: this is the perfect time to resolve conflicts or brainstorm new ideas with others.

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End of day habits: 10PM–12AM

  • By 10PM, turn off your devices and resist the urge to watch TV before bed. Have a hot bath to relax instead.
  • If TV is how you relax, limit it to 90 minutes.
  • Switch off the lights by midnight, and try not to get up even if you find yourself awake for awhile. Chances are you’ll fall asleep soon.

Summing it up

Not one chronotype is more productive (or lazy) than another. The main thing is to figure out the one(s) that resonate with you the most and channel it towards ensuring maximum productivity.
Paying attention to your own chronotype can help you in work organization, and then you can add a few tools to enhance your productivity and make the most of your time.

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