A reader writes:
I am most decidedly NOT a morning person. I’ve been a night owl since I was a kid. I actually chose my field as an undergraduate (a branch of the biological sciences) based on the fact that labs quite often run non-standard hours. In fact, for the overwhelming majority of my career so far, being a night owl has been incredibly helpful…I’m often willing to run experiments later in the day than another labmate, meaning that both of us can use the same equipment and therefore more work can get done, making the most out of limited resources.
However, now I’m in a new lab, and I’ve come to discover that everyone here is a morning person, and now I am expected to be, too. I was very honest and clear when I interviewed about my preference for later hours (I usually feel physically ill when getting up in the early morning), and during the interview process I was assured that wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately now that I’m here, it is.
I did mention it to my manager and got a non-answer like, “Well, I guess I remember you saying that, but it is what it is” … meaning that the experiments had already been set for happening in the early morning, no one else had a problem with it, and that it was now up to me to comply. And all of the interview assurances were verbal, I already went back and checked all communications from the interview process.
I’m trying to make the most out of this situation, since this is a new job and I’d like to stay in the good graces of my supervisors. I am experiencing a lot of anxiety about trying to become an early riser. Because of the anxiety, I’m going to bed so early that I miss out on having a life after the work day is complete, because I’m tossing, turning and worrying about that early morning alarm clock going off. I’m sure people in other fields can struggle with this, too, as well as recent graduates just getting used to a new professional job. Do you have any tips, tricks or advice for a night owl trying to fly with the early birds?
I do realize that this type of question will likely get a lot of “suck it up buttercup” from the commenters. Believe me, I’m trying! I desperately wish mornings came easily for me.
Ooooh, I sympathize. I’m a huge night owl — last night I was up reading until past 3 a.m. for no reason at all other than that that’s the schedule my body puts itself on when left to its own devices. And then someone called and woke me up at 9 a.m. and I am Quite Annoyed.
So know up-front that that’s my bias, but I really think that what they did here is BS. Whether or not someone thinks that your schedule preferences are frivolous (and some people will), the fact is that you were clear about your preference and you were told they could accommodate it. It’s really not that different than being told during the interview process that you can work from home two days a week and then finding out when you start that ha ha, they were just kidding, or having anything else that you agree to before accepting a job suddenly yanked away.
And yes, of course you should get those things in writing because it often makes it easier to resolve when there are problems with it later on, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating and unfair that they handled things like this.
All of which is to say that if you wanted to, I think you’d be justified in looking at other jobs over this, even though you haven’t been there that long. This isn’t a perfect solution, because if you do change jobs over this anytime soon, you’ll be stuck with having to explain why your stay there was so short-term. And while it’s completely legitimate to change jobs because the terms of employment were misrepresented to you, that’s still a pain in the ass and something better avoided. Plus, people like to judge people who don’t like rising early. (But I judge them right back for missing out on the delights of the 1 a.m. cup of tea and Downton Abbey rerun.)
As for what you can do in order to make the early morning hours less painful … I’m hoping readers will chime in with suggestions on this, because it is not my forte. However, one thing I can tell you is that most habits become ingrained after about 30 days. So if you can be disciplined about it for a month, it’ll probably be a lot easier after that. Readers, what else can you suggest?