Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Morning Larks Lead Better Careers, Chronotype Expert Claims

The business world wakes up bright and early and the evening types have no choice but to fight their natural inclination to keep up with competition. For this reason it’s the morning types that hold an advantage at the office. The body of research by chronotype expert Christoph Randler suggests people who reach their peak performance in the a.m. hours seem to be better positioned for career success.

Randler was featured this month in the Harvard Business Journal’s “Defend Your Research” series. His latest research concludes morning larks are more likely to be of the “take charge” type. A sample of 367 college students responded to surveys with questions about when they tend to be most energetic and whether they are willing and able to take action to change a situation to their advantage. The students who reported they are at their best in the morning hours more often agreed with proactive statements about themselves.

He said its proactivity that leads to better job performance, greater career success and higher wages. Randler’s earlier studies suggest the advantage starts in school. The morning bell rings bright and early at most schools, and from a young age the morning types benefit. They tend to get better grades, which gets them into better colleges and then nets them better jobs out of school. They’re poised to start work early at a high level of performance once they join the 8 to 5 business world.

Despite how it sounds, evening people aren’t condemned to a life of destitution. Research shows they’re often smarter, creative, more outgoing and have a better sense of humor than their button-down counterparts. They can thrive given a more suitable schedule and environment.

These sweeping statements are a bit of a simplification, Randler admits. Evening types can be proactive and some can slightly shift their daily sleep-wake schedules without difficulty. Other research shows our chronotypes shift towards the mornings as we age. The effect may be due to the adult responsibilities such as working and raising children.

If you don’t know whether you’re a morning or evening type there’s an easy way to tell, Randler states. Evening chronotypes sleep in an average of two hours longer on weekends, while morning chronotypes are up bright and early as usual.

Image by Joey Parsons

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