Morning people. You know the kind. Up before the sun. A cup of coffee or two more than is necessary. Stunningly chipper at a most ungodly hour. Are you one of them?
I’m not. In fact, I’m the exact opposite of a morning person. For some, the sun rising in the morning and washing sunlight onto a new day is invigorating, a call to action. For others, including myself, the sun setting can have the same effect.
No one is quite sure what it is. The particular shade of light? The characteristic sounds? Whatever it is, we all feel more at home during certain times of the day and under specific atmospheric conditions.
Most of us don’t wake up one day and decide to become a “morning person” or a “night owl.” The tendency just comes from within. It seems somehow innate.
For as long as I can remember, my most creative and enlightening moments have come at night time. As a child, I’d relentlessly ask my mom a series of meaningless questions whenever she was getting ready to put me to bed for the night. Even as she began to close the door shut, I’d chime in with an “Oh wait.. tomorrow afternoon…” It was my nightly ritual to somehow cling to a few more moments of my Hour of Enlightenment.
Be an 80/20 person
So what is an “Hour of Enlightenment”? It’s the time in each of our daily routines when we function at our absolute highest level. When the creative juices are flowing, work feels like play, and the sky is the limit for our hopes and dreams. We feel a sudden euphoric sense of being able to attain our highest aspirations. If you’re a writer, it’s when the words rush from your mind right through your fingertips faster than you can move them across the keyboard. If you’re an entrepreneur, it’s when your most promising ideas for that new product or service become so painfully apparent you wish you could speed up time to watch them succeed.
You might say it’s our 80/20 window of opportunity. Also known as the Pareto Principle, it’s a theory of the ways of the universe nicknamed after Italian philosopher Vilfredo Pareto. It states that in most cases, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
What does that mean for productivity? It means that the average human being can achieve 80% of their desired outcomes with only 20% of the actual work they put in. Applied to the right areas and at the right time, that means we can achieve a great deal in a relatively short amount of time.
Structure your day around your Enlightenment Window
So how do we determine when our Hour of Enlightenment will strike? It’s difficult to know with complete precision because it won’t always come to you like clockwork. Keep track of your mood or energy as you go about your day and take notes on when you feel at your best–you just may notice a pattern. Once your pattern has been established, arrange your day to be alert and free to achieve greatness during a 2-4 hour window when that moment is likely to strike.
If that means adjusting your sleep schedule, taking a well-timed nap, or being known as the weirdo with odd working hours, so be it! You can laugh at your detractors all the way to the bank.
“Raindrops keep falling on my head…”
Atmospheric conditions may accelerate or decelerate your own Hour of Enlightenment depending on how you’re wired to perform. For me, an overcast day with steady rain is an almost guaranteed performance multiplier. Add some thunder to that equation, and I might be able to bend spoons with my mind.
Yours might be just the opposite. A crisp, blue, cloudless sky might be your idea of heaven. Other atmospheric factors can have equally powerful impacts. The smells of the fall season, a particular shade of blue–all of these factors can have a significant impact on your level of creative energy.
So, pay attention to your energy level throughout the day. You might already have an idea for when your Hour of Enlightenment tends to strike, but turn into a science. Do your best to be at-the-ready for achieving greatness when the moment hits you. Your results will speak for themselves.