Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~Albert Einstein
Manage Your Energy Using Nature’s Intelligence
When I came across this article written by my long time friend and tax accountant, (I know it’s an unusual combo) David Powdrell, I was struck by how poetically he described a concept that I teach as a coach: how to manage one’s energy. David is also an avid nature connoisseur, writing and photographing his wondrous experiences in the natural world of California.
Harnessing the wisdom in this article can help you to face challenges with grace, turn crisis into opportunity and learn and grow from it all–things I have always admired David for, as he is one of the most positive, optimistic people I know. Through his musing you will gather some insight on how to manage your energy more efficiently and productively. It will help you to figure out when you should be doing your most important activities during your day by understanding whether you have lark, owl or hummingbird tendencies. Enjoy!
Larks, Owls, and Hummingbirds
So here’s the deal…while out on a crack-o-dawn photo shoot in the Sierras recently, I was reminded that the world is comprised of morning people (larks), night people (owls) and those in the middle (hummingbirds). None is better than the other; we’re just different. Together, we’ve got all the bases covered and that’s a good thing.
I got to wondering, though, are the differences between a morning person and a night person a genetic trait or is it an environmental issue? What are some of the characteristic differences between the two? Population-wise, who’s in the majority? Which would you rather be, a morning person or a night owl?
You do have a Body Clock
According to Michael Smolensky and Lynne Lamberg in their book, The Body Clock Guide to Better Health, about one in ten of us are up at dawn and raring to go. About two in ten are night owls, staying up past midnight. The rest of us, the hummingbirds, generally prefer the morning hours.
Stanford University researcher, Daniel Katzenberg, thinks that a gene may govern which sleep behavior we favor. He and his colleagues assessed the traits of 410 randomly sampled adults and took blood samples from them. Their results indicate that a particular pattern consistently appeared in part of the Clock gene for owls but not for the larks. Others are confident that environmental conditions help shape our preferences.
So how do we differ? Well, Katzenberg says that larks are most alert around noon; owls at around 6 p.m. Larks are most productive in the late morning. Owls are most productive in the late morning and late evening. Most larks are age 60 and over. Most owls are college students and 20-somethings. Larks don’t use an alarm clock. Owls need multiple alarms. Larks like exercising in the mornings; owls prefer the evenings. Larks are chatty in the early morning hours whereas owls are groggy. Larks fade fast in the evening whereas owls are full of energy. The favorite meal for a lark is breakfast. Owls love their dinners.
How to Reset your Body Clock
Can you convert from a lark to an owl or vice versa? Absolutely, according to Smolensky and Lamberg. Larks can become more owlish by spending more time outside in the afternoon and early evening. Increasing activity, exercising and socializing in the evening as opposed to reading or watching TV helps too.
Owls can move toward lark behavior by sleeping with the blinds or curtains open. Walking outside as soon as possible after waking up also helps. Compensating for missed sleep by taking a 20-minute mid afternoon nap, keeping the evenings quiet and using dim lights at night help.
I’m a lark. Always have been. I love a good sunrise but fade fast after Wheel of Fortune. When the sun sets, that’s nature’s way of saying it’s bedtime, from my perspective.
Whether you’re an owl, lark or hummingbird, here are those morning photos in the Sierras I mentioned earlier. I hope you enjoy them.
So which are you, owl, lark or hummingbird? How can you schedule your most important work when you have the most energy? Think about the tasks that you do that don’t take much energy (like reading email) and save that for the times that are not your peak times. Let us know how it works out!
Dr. Lynn K. Jones
Dr. Lynn K. Jones is a Board Certified Coach and an Advanced Certified Personal and Executive Coach based in Santa Barbara, California and a sought after coach and consultant for organizations and individuals across the US. Her doctoral work completed at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University concerned organizational culture; she coaches, consults and trains organizations on what they need to do to create organizational cultures that are aligned with their vision and values using a process of Appreciative Inquiry. She coaches individuals on achieving their reflected best selves. A MSW@USC faculty member, Dr. Lynn K. Jones, MSW, DSW, CSWM, teaches Human Behavior and Social Environment and Leadership to social work students at the University of Southern California.