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Are you an early bird or a night owl? Is your motto, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” or are you a firm believer in burning the midnight oil?

Morning people and evening people may prefer different schedules, but that may not be the only difference between them. According to Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, morning people tend to have an edge when it comes to personal effectiveness and professional success.

In a 2009 study, Randler surveyed 367 college students, asking them what time of day they were most energetic and willing and able to act to change a situation. Out of those surveyed, the morning people were more willing to agree with statements that demonstrate proactivity and personal effectiveness, such as, “I spend time identifying long-range goals for myself” and “I feel in charge of making things happen.”

In an interview with Harvard Business Review, Randler said:

Though evening people do have some advantages—other studies reveal they tend to be smarter and more creative than morning types, have a better sense of humor, and are more outgoing—they’re out of sync with the typical corporate schedule. When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards. My earlier research showed that they tend to get better grades in school, which get them into better colleges, which then lead to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them, my survey showed. They’re proactive. A number of studies have linked this trait, proactivity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.

Randler said that your type depends partially on your genetics, but types also shift as people age, with more people becoming morning people as they get older.

Even if the thought of getting up at 5 a.m. to tackle the day makes you shudder, you can still make small changes in your lifestyle to become more productive in your work mornings.

Rise & Shine: Morning Personal Effectiveness Tips

1. Get enough sleep. 

This one is pretty basic, but many people fall short of their optimum sleep requirements. Aim for 7.5 to 8.5 hours of sleep per night, and set your alarm clock for the time you need to get up (rather than hitting the snooze button several times). If you have a hard time getting up in the morning, try hitting the hay an hour earlier.

2. Soak in some sun.

Go outside during the early daylight hours to wake up and train your body to respond better to an early start to the day. “The daylight resets your circadian clock and helps shift you toward morningness,” said Randler.

3. Get moving.

Start your day with a brisk walk, run, swim or other form of exercise. You’ll get your blood pumping, work up an appetite for breakfast and kick your morning off in a healthy way. If you are feeling energetic when you begin working, you are ready to adopt good personal effectiveness habits.

4. Start work on the right foot.

When you get to work, resist the temptation to spend an hour or two reading emails, making phone calls and other tasks that aren’t at the top of your priority list. Instead, make a list of your top to-do list items for the day and tackle those first, before doing anything else.

Are you a morning person or an evening person? What are your top a.m. personal effectiveness tips?


Learn more about EDSI’s Increasing Personal Effectiveness course.

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