Embrace Your Night Owl Employees

I can’t even imagine working at night. Anything I do after 8PM had better not need strategic thought.  But at 6AM (or earlier), I can plow through creative, thoughtful, strategic work like an Olympic runner at a marathon.

Yup – I’m a morning person. Even on weekends ‘sleeping in’ past 8AM rarely happens.

And then there’s my friend Catherine. Catherine is a Night Owl. For Catherine, she’s not at her ‘best’ in the morning; her energy patterns – her Circadian Rhythms – are ‘different’ than 80%-90% of the population.Circadian Rhythm

No matter what time you sleep, each of us does our best, most strategic, most creative work when we are rested.

As a chronic morning person I used to believe Night Owls routinely went to bed too late and that if they changed some of their habits they could also enjoy getting to the office early. Now, as a Time Management Trainer I’ve see over and over evidence that tells me Night Owls are only embracing their natural way. When I’m training there’s usually at least one person in the team that says they do their best work at night.

Thankfully for Catherine and other Night Owls like her, work spaces are changing so Night Owls can better embrace their late-night energy spikes.

As work environments change businesses are becoming more accepting that people work on different schedules – whether employees want to because of family commitments – or have to because they are Night Owls. Virtual ‘work wherever & whenever’ companies that have employees throughout the country or the world are becoming more and more common.

Benefits Of Embracing Night Owl Employees

  • If you are an “in-the-office” company, see if you can give employees more flexibility. It’s not a perfect solution for a Night Owl, but if someone can travel during off-peak hours it means they will be working when THEY are more productive. It likely also means your employees are less stressed and will be happier because they spend less time sitting in traffic and more time doing the work they enjoy or being with their family/friends. And, happy employees are more creative, more productive and will be more loyal to your organization and your values – meaning better customer service and less time having to rehire, retrain, re….
  • If you are a “virtual” company, it’s likely you’ve already embraced the idea of hiring the best people vs. the best people living within 100kms of… wherever; your employees are likely in a different time zone. It’s also likely you and your employees are happily experiencing a ROWE (Results Only Work Environment), who cares when they do their work as long as they meet their timelines, budgets and work quality. Your virtual employees can work when THEY are most productive… it also makes them happier. So – what you have is a happy, productive employee who again, will be more creative, more productive and will be more loyal to your organization and your values – meaning better customer service and less time having to rehire, retrain, re….

No matter what your company structure is like, leaders need to explore what is right for each member of their team… and to focus more on keeping their team collaborating and focused on the vision and goals vs. when or where they are doing their work.

When Should Night Owls Send Email?

I get asked this more and more often when I deliver Email Etiquette Training. Proper workplace etiquette has put more pressure on employers to leave employees alone during their time off. For most, this roughly means no contact from 6PM to 8AM.

If you are a Night Owl like Catherine I recommend you use a delay-send feature for email so the email you write gets sent closer to 8AM vs. 11PM, 2AM or 4AM. Other than not disturbing your fellow co-workers, I believe this is especially important if you are emailing clients. Consider that a 1:30AM email might give your client a negative feeling that you are out of control.


What is your Circadian Rhythm and work-life pattern? What are your most productive hours? More importantly, as a leader when are your employees most productive? As work-spaces change it’s important we enable our employees to be productive when people are productive. If you are a leader – help your team find joy… you will be rewarded with loyal, hard-working, creative team members.

Our work and our work schedule should give us joy. Hopefully you can find a schedule to help you be the best person you can be and do your best work.

Happy communicating… interviewing… mentoring… and training.

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Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Business Writing, Email Etiquette, Time Management and Mindfulness.

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Time Management and Healthy Eating: Practical Habits For Professionals: Energizing Your Mornings

I always find early September an exciting time of change – no doubt a learned response from the years and years… and years (my parents would say), of school. Perhaps that’s why I’m much more successful starting an AND KEEPING new habits in September than at New Years.

So in keeping with the theme of starting practical new habits, over the next three blog posts I’ll share some of my favourite habits that have helped my clients be more productive. And that’s not all!!! To further help you be successful I’m collaborating with James R. Elliot of Complete Health and Fitness.

James R. Elliot

James R. Elliot

James R. Elliot is a holistic nutritionist, health transformation coach and public speaker dedicated to empowering individuals to lead healthier, happier lives. Over the next three posts James will share some tips on how to maintain your energy (morning, noon and night), and my Time Management tips will give you ideas on what to do with that energy. For example: James will look at:

  1. Energizing your mornings
  2. Evening meal planning to promote a restful sleep
  3. Avoiding (or minimizing), your mid-afternoon slump and drop in energy

Time Management Tip I: Do Important Work First

One of the key Time Management technique I teach / speak / write on is to do your Important Work first. This means working on your most important projects / priorities before you get involved with Busy Work.

Studies show that the majority of adults are more creative and work more accurately in the morning… when we’re rested. That’s why most successful people have adopted good time management habits like dedicating their mornings to their Important Work. This also means:

  • Moving as many meetings as possible into the afternoon
  • Eating a healthy breakfast (like James will tell us)
  • Starting their day early

I can imagine the groans from all you ‘late night news’ watchers about starting your day early.

And while most adults believe they are night people – that’s not the case. Studies show people feel sluggish in the morning because they don’t get enough quality, restful sleep; we are chronically fatigued. I’ll talk about sleeping in part II of this series.sleep

After you’ve worked on your Important Work all morning, spend the afternoon working on your lower priority Busy Work like taking meetings, helping co-workers and replying to low-priority email.

How To Start Your Day Earlier – Easily

To invest in your future success lets say you’ve decided to get up 30 minutes earlier; perhaps that means not hitting the snooze button anymore. Hurrah!!! Those 30 minutes will provide you many benefits. For example:

  • Take 15 minutes to relax and have a nutritious, healthy breakfast that James suggests
  • Be on the road earlier, which means less traffic, less stress and likely much less time commuting
  • Arrive at the office relaxed, earlier, refreshed and ready to begin your Strategic Important Work.

James R. Elliot’s Tip I: Energizing Your Mornings

One of the best things you can do to rev up your metabolism and feel great in the morning is to have a HEALTHY breakfast. Unfortunately, there is too much ‘cereal box health advice’ that tells us what a healthy breakfast is…when it actually is not. I used to fall victim to this and for years had 2 cups of orange juice, cereal with 2 cups of milk, and sometimes even double carb my breakfasts by adding bread each morning.

I thought this was a healthy breakfast, but like many people this is why I used to crash mid morning, had health issues, exhaustion, required coffee, craved daily naps and had trouble losing weight. Even without the bread, on average I was getting about 119 grams of sugar in my breakfast!!! 12g of sugar for each 250ml of milk (2%,1%, skim, whatever), 25g for each 250ml of orange juice, and 30-45g or more for the cereal, even the “healthy” stuff! Not to mention the starchy grains/cereal itself. With all that sugar – an energy crash is inevitable.sweet

Why does this happen? When you add so much sugar to your body, your body knows it is toxic so, your body compensates by dumping lots of insulin into your bloodstream (and usually way over-compensates) so your blood sugar, energy and mood all come crashing down. You feel hungry again, tired, irritable, crave sweets, coffee and then the cycle begins all over again. Most manufacturers like to hide the real amount of sugar in their products by giving you nutrition facts per ¼ cup or 1/3 cup of cereal – who has only ¼ or 1/3 cup of cereal?

3 Healthy Breakfast Options:

  1. A green shake (75% greens, 25% fruit) with protein powder and 1-1.5 TBSP coconut oil
  2. Meat/fish/eggs and veggies sautéed in coconut oil
  3. A healthy “cereal” alternative of 5-6 TBSP Hemp Hearts, 1-2 TBSP chia seeds, a small handful of slivered or crushed almonds, almond/flax/coconut/rice milk (preferably unsweetened), cinnamon, and a natural sweetener like Stevia (my favorite is Truvia). Throw in some berries if you like as well. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes, if you want, so the chia seeds are easier to digest. These ingredients are available at any grocery store, especially in the health sections, or bulk barn.


Although it takes time to implement healthy lifestyle habits, the return on investment is tremendous — which makes the time investment worth it. Not only will you be more productive, you will find that the combination of healthy fats, protein, and low-glycemic carbohydrates in these options will give you more maintained energy, better mood, increased mental clarity and create a neat side effect of losing weight.

As you work into your new habits, stay focused on keeping a routine of getting up at the same time. Getting up at different times disturbs your circadian rhythm.

Things you can do to change your schedule:

  • Exercise… especially morning exercise
  • Enjoy healthy eating – like a good breakfast sitting on your deck or walking your dog (what I do).
  • Don’t sleep in much later on weekends

Visit the second blog post in this series by clicking below:
#II:  Time Management and Healthy Eating: Practical Habits For Professionals: Why Sleep Is Important

Visit the third blog post in this series by clicking below:
#III:  Time Management and Healthy Eating: Avoiding The Afternoon Slump

Happy Time Management and Healthy Eating. 

Click here to join our priority list of people who receive our latest Business Communication blog posts. If you enjoyed this post we think you’ll like:

Bruce Mayhew Consulting facilitates courses including Email Etiquette, Managing Difficult Conversations, Multigenerational Training, Time Management and Mindfulness.

Find answers to your Professional Development questions / needs at brucemayhewconsulting.com.

Give us a call at 416 617 0462. We’ll listen.

Bruce Mayhew on Canada AM

Click on the image to watch us on Canada AM.

I’d enjoy reading your comments on this post.

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