science says you’re starting work at the wrong time, and more

Over at QuickBase’s Fast Track blog today, I take a look at several big work-related stories in the news right now: science says that you’re starting work too early, how your desire to get things done might be making you less effective, and more. You can read it here.

{ 149 comments… read them below }

    1. BRR*

      We have a flexible start/stop time which I think is an ideal solution as it lets people have their preference.

      1. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

        I agree that flexible start/stop time is ideal! Some of us are morning people (I go in at 7 and leave at 3:30 – it would KILL me to waste my day working 10-6!). For some, a 10-6 schedule would be perfect. I think as long as the work doesn’t absolutely require you to be there 9-5, companies should be more flexible, within reason.

        1. Jinx*

          My sleep rhythms are weird when it comes to work. I have trouble going to bed early and getting up early, but once I drag myself to work I’m waaaay more productive than I am later in the day. My mornings usually fly by, but I start dragging around 3.

          We do flexible times at my office, which I’m grateful for. I’m okay with being slightly sleep-deprived if it means I get out of here before traffic gets awful.

        2. Florida*

          I had a 7-3 schedule at one job and I loved it. I had to be sure I went to bed by 9:00, which was hard sometimes. But I loved being done at 3:00.

          1. Rob Lowe can't read*

            This is kind of what I have – my official work hours are 7:10-2:40, but I usually end up working 6:30-3:00, with another hour from home. I’m a morning person, but not quite that much of a morning person; starting 30 minutes later would be really nice, if for no other reason than to not have my morning routine quite so rushed.

            1. Bob*

              I find the ideal time is 7-6. Avoid both sets of traffic and have lots of time to do different jobs at work

        3. asdf*

          How exactly are you ‘wasting’ your day?

          Person #1 starts at 7:00 AM. They wake up at 5:00 AM for their shift, and go to sleep at 9:00 PM.

          Person #2 starts at 10:00 AM. They wake up at 8:00 AM for their shift, and go to sleep at 12:00 AM (midnight).

          Basic mathematics would dictate both participants in this example are awake for sixteen hours of the day.

          The notion that you’re ‘wasting’ time by starting later in the afternoon is completely false.

      2. Honeybee*

        We do too, and I love it. I tend to arrive some time between 9:30 and 10 am and leave sometime between 6 and 7 pm.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I go in at 8:30 to avoid the herds of big rigs I run into on my commute and leave at 4:30, but I still have to get up at 6:00 to get ready because I’m abysmally slow in the morning. If I don’t have time to drink my coffee and stare at Buzzfeed while I wake up, I’m a little crab all day. It works for me–the coffee has totally kicked in by the time I get there, and I leave when I start to fade. As I told my old boss, “You get me at my most productive hours of the day!” :)

      1. AnonT*

        Same here – I’m just ridiculously slow to become functional in the morning. I’m really glad I have a long bus ride for a commute, because it gives me time to wake up, let the coffee kick in, and plan for my day. By the time I get to work, I’ve already got the first few hour scheduled in my mind and I’m actually ready to go.

        Much as I would love to be able to sleep in an extra hour or two in the morning, I would probably never get anything done because I’m already used to the morning being work-work-work and then tapering off as the afternoon progresses.

    3. Mollie*

      I just switched my work hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and now work 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (i cut my lunch down from an unnecessary hour to 30 minutes) It has made a world of difference. There was talk that this change was only temporary as everyone thought it would be a terrible schedule to impose on me but it benefits the office and I love it.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I want to start work later, but I also want to end at the same time as now – basically I want a shorter day. If I started at 10 am; I’d finish at 6:30 and I definitely don’t want that.

    5. Quinalla*

      Flexible schedules are very helpful for this. This is not true for me personally, I don’t start work later than 7:30am and often 6:30am or 7:00am as I’m a morning person, but I find I’m usually in the minority as I’m happy to go to bed at 10pm if nothing is going on, sometimes even earlier if I’m tired for some reason. My husband would love to start work at 10:00am, though getting done with work at 6 or 7 pm is way too late for our family, we barely see our kids before they have to go to bed as it is.

  1. KR*

    I would love to start work later in the day as a rule – but my problem comes when I get out for the day and there’s barely an hour left of sunshine (or none at all in the winter). I try to get to work early when I can because I love getting out of work and trying to enjoy the day after work.

    1. Sadsack*

      Me, too. I start work at 7:30 and leave at 4:30. Now that I’m used to that schedule, I would not want to go back to starting at 8:30. Sure, I go to bed a bit earlier than I used to, but I feel like I get so much more done after work everyday.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Ooh I love working 8 to 430, I would start even earlier if I could! I would be very displeased if I had to go to a 10-6 schedule, which is way too late for me. (I think the answer to this is to allow flex time with core hours, and allow people to manage their own time. Shocking!)

        1. Lily in NYC*

          I have the same schedule and hated it when I had 10-6 at a former job (the only good thing was that the commute was less painful). I’m such a morning person and I have a long commute so getting home after 7pm would not appeal to me. I am so grateful we have flex time here.

    2. Adam*

      Yeah, that’s my deal too. Plus when I wake up I want to get to work, get it done and over with, and then have as much time as I’d like for whatever comes in the evening. I have no concept of a leisurely morning unless it’s a weekend. And so long as 8 hours is the norm for a work day I’d rather have it after work than before. I’m generally the same on weekends: get chores done first and then the rest of the day is yours.

      Also I imagine if work started later I’d be thinking about work a lot more since that’s generally what’s on my mind when I wake up in the morning. It would be unnecessary thinking.

    3. T3k*

      Yeah, that’s the one caveat. I work 10-6 and I hated during the Fall/Winter where I’d be leaving work and it was getting dark. But what I don’t like more is being up before the sun, so I’ll take it. Plus, I’m more night owl and can’t fall asleep until after midnight anyways.

      1. Adam*

        Where I live I dub winter “Vampire Season”. Suns down when you show up to work; suns down when you leave for the “day”. If you want any natural vitamin D you have to take a walk at lunchtime. It’s the only thing I hate about the winter.

          1. hermit crab*

            haha! Exactly. One time when I was in college (in a place where winters are cold and dark) I was complaining to my dad (a physician) about feeling depressed. He suggested getting more vitamin D — “just take a quick walk and get some sun on your face or arms.” Um, no. The wind chill is in the negative double-digits and I don’t think frostbite will make me feel better.

            1. Megs*

              I’ve been diagnosed twice with severe vitamin D deficiency, and it is unbelievable how much better I feel when I remember to take the damn pills regularly. I actually don’t mind the winters that much, but I’m not going for walks in that kind of cold (even if the sun were out, which it often isn’t).

              Also, who shows their arms outside in places that get real winter?

              1. Jinx*

                Yeah, I’m chronically vitamin D deprived, and can second that the pills make a difference when I bother to take them. :/ Fortunately I’m in the south, so most of the year I can get it directly.

                1. Meeeeeeeee*

                  I just got diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency and I am so looking forward to the pills doing their job and not feeling so exhausted all the time!

                2. Megs*

                  @Meeeeeeeee: I hope they work as well for you as they do for me! I usually notice a difference after about a week or two.

                3. Koko*

                  Meeee and others – Look for a product called “D Drops.” It’s liquid vitamin D suspended in coconut oil, has only a light coconut flavor, has 1,000 IU per drop, and can be added to food. I put 5-10 drops in my lunch every day. Much less annoying than taking a pill!

            2. De*

              The sun has to be at least at a certain angle so the body can make vitamin D – at least where I am, going for a walk in December and January won’t do anything for vitamin D production…

                1. Megs*

                  I can anecdotally confirm that the link between D deficiency and depression can exist way younger than 65 and up. That map is fascinating – I live waaaaay above 37 degrees north.

              1. hermit crab*

                Yep. Another reason why I completely ignored his advice! To be fair, he received most of his medical training at a latitude of like 20 degrees N, where you can get plenty of vitamin D all year.

            3. ModernHypatia*

              You actually can’t make Vitamin D from the sun unless the sun gets over a certain height in the sky! So if you’re somewhere with lots of cold, in the US, you may not be able to make it naturally for about half the year.

              (It’s something like late April to early October you can if you live in New England, but it depends a lot on location.)

    4. Tau*

      I start work around 7:45 and leave at around 4, and I love having a half-free afternoon. Plus, I’m much more productive in the morning and tend to end up pretty braindead around 3pm. I would hate being forced onto a 10-6 schedule because someone thinks population statistics can be applied in broad strokes. :|

    5. Colorado CrazyCatLady*

      Yep, same here. I negotiated a 7-3:30 schedule (previously was 8-4:30). I love leaving when the sun is still out in the winter, and being able to hike or go to the gym after work without having to rush. For me, the morning is already wasted at work, so I’d rather get it over with as soon as possible ;)

      1. KR*

        I wish I could make myself get up that early! I’ve just now reached the point where I’m not rushing around in the morning to get to work a half hour later than I want to anyway. Getting a dog helped me a lot because I have to get up early – he has to pee!!

    6. INTP*

      I’m the opposite – I like getting out and about in the morning. Once I’ve expended my mental and emotional energy at work all day, everything besides making dinner, eating, watching TV, and going to bed is misery. It’s also good for circadian rhythms to get sunlight in the morning. It improves my work too – for the first couple of hours out of bed, I’m happy but foggy, so it’s nice to be fully awake when I start work. That isn’t really possible with an early schedule, though. My body needs 9 hours of sleep so to get up at 5 I literally need to be in bed at 7:30 for lights out at 8.

    7. Koko*

      I’m the opposite. I’m so tired by the time I get home from work that it’s all I can manage to fix myself dinner and turn on Netflix and mindlessly stare at it until bedtime. When I get up in the morning, I’m fresh and full of energy! That’s when I want to have free time to do things.

      In college I worked a part-time job with 11-5 hours and it was the most wonderful schedule ever. I would wake up around 8 and have a full 3 hours to make breakfast and either relax and enjoy myself or get errands done before 11. (I also lived a single block from my office at the time!)

      I especially really miss not starting work until after places like banks and post offices close. It was so convenient to be able to do my errands in the morning during their regular business hours, when the lines were always short. Also morning grocery shopping – NOBODY is shopping for groceries at 9:30 am.

    8. Honeybee*

      That is the one downside to it, although to be frank even if I left at 5 pm in the winter I still would get no sunshine. In the dead of winter here the sun sets as early as 4:15 pm, and there’s no way I’m getting to work early enough to leave before 4 pm, so…

      The flip is glorious. This time of year I can leave at 7 pm and still have a nice hour of sunshine.

  2. alter_ego*

    One of the things that’s keeping me incredibly loyal to my current job is the massive amount of flexibility in the schedule. People show up between like, 6 AM and 10:30AM depending on their needs. I interviewed at a few places and when I asked about flexibility, they were like “Oh yeah, we’re super flexible. People come in between 8 and 8:30, it’s really fast and loose”. It’s hard not to laugh.

    1. MashaKasha*

      I interviewed at a place once where the hiring manager interviewed me first and said something like that, too: “Oh yeah, we’re super flexible. People come in between 8 and 8:30, it’s really fast and loose”. I was already skeptical enough, but then he left the room and sent a senior developer in to continue the interview. Completely unprompted, this saintly man told me “We have strict hours. Meaning, if you’re supposed to start at 8 and you come in at 8:02, you’ll get stares”. Dodged a bullet there for sure!

    2. Megs*

      Same here (at least as much as “loyalty” applies to temp work). I work at one of the lower paid agencies but it’s worth it to be able to get our hours anytime between 6:30 AM and 6:30 PM. I’m a fan of the 9:00 to 6:30 shift, personally, but we’ve got a couple of people who come in at 6:30 AM and leave early afternoon, or who work 12 hour shifts and take Friday off entirely.

    3. hermit crab*

      We’re like that too. Besides the benefit to employees, I think it actually helps us provide better service to our clients because we have (in aggregate) a longer working day and better coverage for responding to client requests.

    4. Honeybee*

      That’s one of the things I love about mine, too. People get here as early as 7 am and as late as 10 am.

  3. Kyrielle*

    I am so glad that we get to (within reason) set our own schedules. Because if I started at 10 and ended at 6 or later, I wouldn’t see my kids except when helping them get ready to rush out the door and in the lead-up to bedtime.

    1. Adam*

      This also makes me wonder about cities with bad commutes. Where I live if I got off at 6 then I’m probably getting home around 7. If we’re aiming for a responsible bed time we’d have to speed through making dinner, cleaning up, and all the various family activities.

      1. Honeybee*

        Where I live, if I don’t leave at 5 pm on the dot I might as well stay until 6 anyway. If I leave work at 5:15 it’ll take me 45 minutes to get home; if I leave at 6 pm, then it takes around 20-30 minutes (and if I leave after 6:30 it’s definitely closer to 20). Given that I’d rather sit at my desk and do a little more work than sit in traffic, I usually end up staying until 6 pm anyway, especially since most days I get in closer to 9:30.

    2. Serin*

      Yep, yep, that’s what I came here to say. I have flexible hours, and the client I work with is out west and would probably love it if I worked 10-6:30, but then I’d never see my family.

      If schools would also switch their hours, then the whole family could live like Europeans — I can see the appeal of that.

      I used to work part time, and my hours were 8:30 to 2:30. I have never had a schedule that suited me so well — I could go swimming before work! We could have soup and homemade bread on weeknights! Unfortunately it was sort of a McJob, and real jobs seem to want real hours.

  4. RKB*

    When I started high school the first period began at 8 AM. They switched it the next year to 9 AM. The difference was astounding.

    Even now — the difference between a 9 AM seminar and a 10 AM seminar changes my world.

    1. Megs*

      I’ve read that the start time for high school is particularly out of sync with the amount of sleep people (i.e. teenagers) need – we had one day a week where we started at 9:40 and it was brilliant.

      1. hermit crab*

        I was on the high school swim team and, in addition to daily after-school practices, we had to be there at 6am three days a week. Every year during the swimming season, entire weeks would go by in a sort of haze. Based on what I know now about teenagers and sleep needs/schedules, I can’t believe that we all did it!

        1. Noah*

          What is it with swimming and early mornings? We never had 6am hockey practice, but we were certainly in the pool at that time of day. Ugh. I miss lots of things but not 6am practice.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            It’s funny–they always had swimming at camp first thing in the morning too, when you still needed a damn sweater! We used to wish they would have it in the afternoon–by then, it was hot enough to actually enjoy the water. At church camp, they did it right and we swam in the river around one or two o’clock.

          2. Zeephod IV*

            If you never had 6 am hockey practice, then you were lucky. My brother and I both played hockey in school, and holy buckets. Two teenagers trying to get up and out the door by 5, so we could be at the rink and ready by 6, then off to school to start class by 8. Then after school there was often another two-hour practice.

            I quit the team after my freshman year, and my brother only made it until sophomore year. Neither of us could keep up with that kind of schedule for very long.

            1. KR*

              And nevermind that these practices were probably every day! My dad couldn’t afford to have me do soccer past 8th grade, so when I was a junior in high school and worked enough to afford my own cleats and drive myself around I looked into getting into JV soccer. Practices were 5 days a week with the games on weekends – and the game schedule was often posted last minute. I asked the coach how it was possible that I could work and be on the team and he informed me that most people just took leaves of absences for the season! Totally exclusive to teens that needed to support themselves.

            2. Noah*

              I think the figure skaters had the ice that early in the day. We always had practice after school and in the evenings. Early games on Saturday sucked though.

      2. alter_ego*

        It’s amazing how every SINGLE article talking about the scientific research that shows that teenager brains just aren’t designed to get to school by 7:23 (my school’s start time, I was on the bus by 6:30) devolves into a comment section talking about how lazy teenagers are and how back in their day, they certainly weren’t tired when they had to wake up for school, and it’s probably something to do with twitter and coddling parents.

        1. Sadsack*

          I have to admit that part of my problem was staying up to watch Late Night with David Letterman most nights.

        2. AnonT*

          Seriously. I am eternally grateful that I lived close enough to walk to school, so I could leave my house at 6:45 and still get to school for our start time of 7:20.

          The only good part of starting that early was that we were out of school for the day by 2:10, so there was a LOT of time to do things after. Assuming, of course, that you were still awake enough to function and didn’t need to take a nap.

          1. alter_ego*

            Yeah, the reason we started so early was because our football field wasn’t lit. But that lots of time just translated to me doing alllllllllllllllllll the extracurriculars. It looked good on a college application, but looking back on those years, I was at school from like, 7:15 to 10 pm every single day, plus football games and marching band competitions on saturdays in the fall, and play practice on Saturdays in the winter and spring, and I had a part time job for friday and satuday nights, and all day sundays AND fitting homework in around that I just….how in the hell did I do it? I know at least part of the answer was getting a max of 4 hours of sleep a night for 4 straight years, but even then, I’m kind of in awe at my past self’s energy level.

            1. KR*

              Same same same same same. I had two part time jobs in the mix. It was really fun trying to do your homework when you got home from work at 10:15 at night. My dad gave up trying to make me go to bed at a reasonable time because there was simply no other way that the homework could get done and he couldn’t afford to give me money to afford a car/gas/hobbies/fun.

        3. Kelly L.*

          Well, I’m no longer a young whippersnapper, and I remember being tired AS HELL at school, both in the mornings and every afternoon right after lunch. I swear, some people have their memories wiped after adolescence or something.

          And it’s not like I was out partying. I was in bed by 10 at the latest. But I always had a hard time actually getting to sleep, and even if I slept well, I still woke up tired.

          1. alter_ego*

            It’s always been amazing to me how quickly people forget what adolescence was like for them. I’m only 26 now, maybe I’ll loose that empathy when I’m older, but even among my peers I’m seeing a very “fuck teenagers” attitude that I just don’t understand. Teenagers are doing some incredible things, and the presence of annoying teenagers doesn’t negate that. There’s just as many annoying 26 year olds, I’m sure.

          2. Honeybee*

            Me too! I woke up at 5 am every morning to get on the bus at 6:01 so I could be to school for a start time of 8:30 (it was a Magnet school, and although I only lived 15 minutes away the school bus had to take a circuitous route and I had to switch buses to get to school since it wasn’t my district). Then school got out at 3:30 and I’d get home around 5 pm. 4 hours of homework and some dinner later and it was back to bed. Especially during band season (when we had 3 hours of band practice squeezed in there) just remember being a zombie 80% of the time. I have no idea how I got anything out of high school, lol!

      3. Anxa*

        I thought I hated physics and would be terrible at it. I let that attitude get me down in college, too.

        I went back to a few concepts with a more open mind and a growth mentality. I’m starting to think I didn’t hate physics so much as I hated trying to stay away at 730-9 in a warm room.

        1. alter_ego*

          I realized recently that I’m not actually bad at parallel parking. I had just assumed I would be, and so I always told people I was. But every time I was parallel parking, I would come inside expressing amazement at the fluke of a good parallel parking job I did. Then I realized I was feeling that amazement every single time.

          I think we tend to attach to one experience when we’re that young, and assume it means we’re bad forever. Its why I like the language of praising effort, rather than inherent intelligence in a subject.

      4. blackcat*

        I have taught teenagers at 7:20am. It was cruel. I am a morning person and was plenty awake, but those poor, poor kids. They really didn’t wake up until 9am, and by then, nearly a third of the school day had gone by.

        Periodically, there’d be talk of moving to a later start time. But, you see, it’s very important to be able to have after school sports in daylight in winter. If all practices are to be over by 4:30pm, school must start at 7:20.

        1. The Strand*

          That’s so stupid. Why can’t students in sports programs opt for a different homeroom/first class schedule or track, while everyone else can be on a different track, ending a little later?

          And I don’t see the need for practices to end by 430, can you explain why your district insisted on that?

          My magnet school, in the downtown of my hometown city, had no problem with me starting late (first class: 10:30 or 11 AM) and working on projects at my school’s computer lab until 7, 8 or even 9 pm at night. The theatre kids also practiced routinely until 8 or 9 pm when a show was coming up. Musicians were there until 6 or even 7. We didn’t have any sports teams, so I’m serious: why does sports practice have to end so early?

          1. Honeybee*

            Or they can get their asses up and practice in the morning when the sun is up, if it’s so important to them. The rest of the kids can get to school at 9:30.

    2. KR*

      Ugh, when I was in high school the bell rang at 7:25 which meant that you had to be in school by 7:10-7:15 to get to your locker and get to class on time. Absolutely terrible.

        1. Mona Lisa*

          Mine was 7:40 AM, but if you were in sports or clubs, you often had to be in school earlier. In freshman year, when I road the bus most days, I was the first pick-up at 6:30 AM and the last drop-off at 4 PM. (Our school released at 2:45 PM.) Combine that with clubs, societies, AP classes, and hours that teenage girls spend caring about things like hair and make-up, I was lucky to get 6 hours of sleep on any given night. In retrospect, I have no idea how I survived!

      1. Kyrielle*

        All this is making me appreciate my elementary kid’s start time (which requires him to catch the bus at 7:20) more and more. And it’s still rough. (When my youngest reaches that age, I think he’ll be fine – he’s a morning lark. His big brother is decidedly not.)

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Oh yes. I remember feeling like death warmed over every single school/work morning, until about 10 am, and then being wide awake and chipper at 10 pm at night. And then crashing on the weekends and sleeping until 2pm. I never, ever, woke up before noon without an alarm clock.

      I’m still not a morning person, but my circadian rhythm has gradually shifted so that I tend to spontaneously wake up earlier. I’m still much better at staying up late than getting up early, though.

      My husband wakes up quite early, does a couple of hours of very productive work at home, has breakfast, then goes into the office, and is usually done by 4pm. He gets way more work done this way than with a more normal 9-5 schedule, and his productive brain-work hours are also when he’s less likely to be interrupted or have meetings.

  5. ThursdaysGeek*

    I’ve never had a job that started as late as 9am. Jobs are almost always more like 8-5. But I’ve also worked many places with flexibility, and have known people to show up between 4 am and 10 am.

    I am a morning person, and if I didn’t start work until 10, it would ruin my evenings, because there would be no time left to do anything, and I’d have to do chores in the morning instead. I’m more productive earlier in the day.

    I’m a little surprised that the study was generalizing so much. Lots of people would benefit from a later start, and lots of people benefit from an early start, and we’re all different. Let us be different — that’s a better conclusion.

    1. Adam*

      Here’s my thought. If every job that didn’t operate on shift schedules let people have widely flexible start times it could potentially be a great quality of life boost regarding people and their commutes. I live in a city where varying your starting travel time by 30 minutes can mean all the difference between having a reasonable commute and wishing that your car came pre-loaded with the red shells from Mario Kart.

      If people could be more selective about their work times it could be a great boon to traffic rather than trying to squeeze the majority of the working population down the roads in the same 90 minute window.

        1. Megs*

          We usually roll into downtown around 8:50 and it’s clear sailing – the days when we have to go in early because of a meeting or something are the worst. WTB red shells.

      1. Formica Dinette*

        Thank you! Not only am I not a morning person, working 8/9-5 really adds to my commute time.

    2. MashaKasha*

      I’m actually weirdly more productive at household chores earlier in the day, and more productive at my work later in the evening. And vice versa, pretty scatterbrained at my work early in the morning, and dead on my feet at home in the evening. So my normal day is, I get up early, try to leave early for work, get caught up doing chores, get to work late (or rather, right on the cusp), stay after work after everyone is gone, because then I’m suddenly in the zone, come home, have dinner, and crash. Would be nice to have a schedule where, unless there’s somewhere I had to be after work, I’d get the chores out of the way first thing in the morning and then work something like 11AM-8PM. I do agree that we are all different, though.

      1. non-profit manager*

        I am similar and I am lucky that I have flexibility with my work hours. So I still get up early but exercise and do my chores in the morning. I get to work between 9:30 and 10, and stay until 6:00 or so, depending on what’s going on. Yes, I get home later. But not that much later, because the traffic is a bit less. Additionally, I’ve done my chores in the morning, so evening is my time.

      2. INTP*

        This is me exactly. When I wake up, I’m happy and motivated, but foggy. It’s a great time to exercise, go to the grocery store, do chores, etc.

        I can work late into the evening with a functional brain, but the workday depletes my mental and emotional energy enough that I am not going to *start* a new effort-requiring activity after I finish. After-work workouts are utter misery. Washing dishes seems like hell (I prefer leaving them overnight, much to the chagrin of neat freaks I’ve lived with). Any sort of errand I will rationalize putting off until the next morning. I’ve actually been on melatonin for years because the only way to get anything done is to force my body into an earlier sleep-wake schedule (I need the melatonin just to go to sleep at 10 and be up at 7, and I was in bed at 8 when I had an 8:30 am job – I literally had no social life because I had to sleep when people were willing to do things). So I’m all for a shifted, later work schedule.

      3. Anxa*

        I am kind of similar.

        I love late start days because I can do a bunch of chores while my brain wakes up, do work, and then do more winding down at the end of the day, and then do more work until it gets late.

      4. Honeybee*

        Oh my god, you are me. There are so many times when I’ve gotten to work around 10:15 because I started washing dishes or doing laundry in the mornings. I can’t do any chores in the evening, but I can work until 7 or 8 pm no problem.

  6. Not Karen*

    Well, I could’ve told you that. I once had an internship that was 10-6 and it was AMAZING.

  7. Sparklekitty*

    I have worked so many different schedules. The worst by far was 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Getting up at 4 in the morning was a living nightmare. 3:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. was also pretty nightmarish. I currently work 9:30 to 5:30 and it’s been a generally agreeable time for me. My husband does 10 to 6. It’s the closest we’ve been to having synchronized schedules in a long time.

    I like going to work and leaving in the dark in the winter, but that’s because I love the winter, I love the cold and I love the dark.

    1. OhNo*

      The waking up at 4am everyday is the absolute worst. I had that schedule the whole time I was in grad school – had to wake up at 4am in order to get out of the house on time, then first job, second job, evening classes, and home and in bed by about 10pm.

      I actually didn’t mind so much that it was still dark out in the morning when I left every day (winter or summer, there’s not much sun at 4am), but I hated the fact that it was always dark when I went home, too. I have to have sun on at least one end of the day, otherwise I get cranky.

      1. blackcat*

        This has been the worst for me about far-north latitudes. If I need to spend 9+ hours out of the house, I leave & come back in the dark. I hate it. It’s better now, though, that I have awesome windows in my office.

  8. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

    10 AM start time study, financed by the DVR industry… Seriously though. No. Do not want. I start at 7. I like getting home earlier. Although I really did not want to get out of bed this morning. That has more to do with my mind numbing, soul sucking job than with my sleep cycle though.

  9. Lily in NYC*

    My best hours ever was when I had a month of grand jury duty. 10-3 every day with a 10-minute commute! It was glorious. I was so bummed when the month ended and I had to go back to my real job and painful commute.

  10. Megs*

    Regarding the first article, I’m in a semi-management position for the first time in my life (I’m the on-site point person for a remote manager) and dealing with the constant emails is brutal to my productivity. As it is, it’s a better use of my time to be responding to people’s questions promptly rather than focusing on my main work, but if I had to maintain both, I would definitely think about only checking email once an hour or something like that.

  11. LA*

    I start work at 6 am I love my hours since I am a morning person. My office has alot of people who come in at 7am, it is mostly to beat the traffic. They asked me if wanted to work at 8am and I said nope, I am ok.

      1. LQ*

        The timing on the first link is incredible. I’ve been really frustrated with my accomplishment/lack thereof in a hobby and this really ties into how I think I’ve been thinking about it wrong. I really like the links to these stories and articles in the rest of the internet, often they are things I wouldn’t stumble across otherwise.

  12. Ellie H.*

    Studies about timing and productivity are so fascinating to me. I struggle with this because I am naturally a late sleep shift person (night owl or whatever), in that left to my own devices I will stay up until the middle of the night, eat dinner at 11pm, I like to work out in the evening instead of in the morning, etc. However, I am NOT more productive at night. I’m totally unproductive at night work wise and I’m most productive in the early morning, like from 6am-noon or 1pm or so. (I’m a grad student and can do more free form stuff like write a paper or grade homework at night, but I’m not as effective at the serious work that requires the most thought like reading and taking notes and thinking about ideas as I am in the morning. When I was in college and taking math I could ONLY do hard math assignments in the morning.) When I had a 9-5 job I would get my best work done between 10am (after I got to work and ‘warmed up’ a little bit) and 1pm. But I have a really hard time with getting up early enough to be effective because of my late shift biological clock. It’s kind of off topic, but I’m curious if anyone else is like this and has advice about how to reconcile the sleep cycle gravitational pull and the time of day you are most effective.

    1. VintageLydia*

      This is me, too! It’s so frustrating because no matter how early I get up however many days in a row, it’s very hard for me to get to sleep before midnight. But my most productive days I’m up between 6:30-7AM. That’s not an impossible sleep schedule. 6 and a half to 7 hours of sleep isn’t terrible, but it’s not ideal, either.

    2. pieces of flair*

      I’m sort of like this. I’m not a night owl, but my natural tendency would be to go to sleep around midnight and wake up around 8 or 9. However, my most productive work time is something like 7-11 in the morning. My brain feels next to useless after 3pm.

      It sucks to have to compromise between effectiveness and sleep. My decision is made for me because I have to wake up at 6 to get to work, but even if I had a more flexible schedule I’d probably choose to wake up earlier and be more productive. It is hard for me to fall asleep when I need to in order to be well-rested, though.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Left to my own devices, I’ll get up around eight and go to sleep at eleven or midnight (depending on how much crap I did that day). Seven hours of sleep is enough to make me feel rested but not groggy. I usually get more like six, however. When I was writing Rose’s Hostage, I only got five hours of sleep a night for a while because I had to be at Exjob at eight and often worked past midnight. Ugh.

    4. Jinx*

      I said it further up, but I’m exactly like this! When I have extended time off, my sleep schedule gravitates towards a nocturnal cycle (stay up late, get up late). I’ve had this job almost two years on an early schedule, and it’s *still* hard for me to go to bed early and get up in the morning.

      On the flip side, when it comes to work I’m at my most productive between 8 am and noon. 0_o I get more easily distracted and bored at the end of the day.

      I don’t really have any advice for managing it, honestly. I’ve started trying to enforce my work sleep schedule on weekends to prevent slipping, but I sleep so much better on a later schedule that it’s hard to justify. To me it’s a choice between getting to stay up late and getting home earlier in the day. I personally choose the latter.

  13. Allison*

    If all I wanted to do after work was go home, make dinner, watch an hour of TV and go to bed, I’d absolutely get to work at 10AM and work until 6 every day. But since I actually want to go out and do stuff in the evening AND hit the road before rush hour traffic gets bad, I’m gonna stick with my 8-4:30 schedule thankyouverymuch.

    1. Megs*

      I am confused by this calculation. Assuming you’re working the same number of hours per day and sleeping the same number of hours per night, you have exactly the same amount of free time as you would working an earlier schedule – yes, daylight hours might vary depending on time of year, but that’s a different issue. Plus a 10:00 (or even 9:00) start time usually misses rush hour on the other end.

      We usually get off work around 6:30, get home at 7:00, spend an hour on chores (including going for a walk if it’s nice and making dinner if we’re eating in), eat or go out around 8:00, and then have another three or four hours to do whatever (usually TV or working from home), and go to bed around 12-1. No, we don’t have kids, but that’s also a different issue.

        1. Megs*

          And I could totally see that. When we have kids, it would be amazing to find schools/daycare that actually worked with a later schedule.

      1. KR*

        I like to do things outside – walk the dog, go walk around downtown or on a trail, hang out on my porch, ect. Doing these things in the dark just depresses me. So for me, anyway, that’s why I like an earlier workday. I absolutely detest going into work too early to do something before work and then getting out too late to really go do something after work.

        1. Megs*

          And that makes sense. I live way up north, so much of the year you’re not getting a lot of sunlight even if you leave at 4. People don’t live in my state if they’re big on sunshine.

      2. The Alias Gloria Is Living Under, A.A., B.S.*

        Depending on where you live, rush hour isn’t 5-6. It’s more like 4-7, leaving earlier usually means you can still do stuff with your evening. When I lived in the Chicago suburbs if I worked until 6, I wouldn’t get home until 7.

      3. Tau*

        I don’t know how it is for others, but I can’t really relax knowing I have a full day of work ahead of me. If I start later, I just spend more of the morning faffing around online reading articles and mentally preparing for work. Ditto for the “faffing about online” for going to bed later, because I can’t do much with the 10pm-midnight slot anyway as my brain is pretty thoroughly dead by then and of course all the shops are closed etc. If I start early and stop early, I can actually head into town, go shopping, cook something complicated, pursue hobbies, etc.

        And in my case, a 9:00 start time would put me smack in the middle of rush hour on both ends. 7:45-4:00 is decent for avoiding it.

  14. Noah*

    I will now point to a study that agrees with my desired work schedule of 10-7. I’m so glad my workplace has flexible hours. I really hate getting up super early in the morning and love having time to get a run or workout in along with breakfast before I have to go to work. Also it cuts my commute time in half by getting away from rush hour.

  15. Anonymous Educator*

    I’ve never had any job that’s started later than 9:00, and even that was the exception rather than the rule. Two places I worked had summer hours, where you could come in a little later (9:00), but the regular hours started at 8:00 or 8:30.

    When I was a classroom teacher, my in-school hours were usually 7:30-3:00 or 8:00-3:30. My office jobs have been 8:00-4:30, 8:00-5:00, or 8:30-5:30.

  16. Zahra*

    I’d love to start my day later (or earlier)… However, daycare still closes at 6 and my husband’s not there during the week to switch off daycare drop-off/pickup. There’s also the fact that I want my kid to go to bed at a reasonable hour, so even with daycare closing later, I’m not sure I’d benefit much from the added flexibility.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Yeah, I keep coming back to a 10-6 or 10-7 work schedule means you need day care to run into the late evening, and you need school and after school care to run into the late evening, and school must start later so that your kid still has time to get enough sleep before it, after you pick them up at 6:30 or 7:30 or whatever it is….

      And your evenings will be dark much of the year, though I wouldn’t consider that a bad thing with kids. I’m about to get out the blackout sheets and put them up in the boys’ bedroom for another summer, in avoidance of the yearly ritual of “I can’t fall asleep, there’s a little light peeking through the blind reminding me it’s still daytime out there”….

  17. beachlover*

    i would love to start later. But based on my commute and traffic, I have to start work at 6:45 and leave at 4:00. I also work with east coast plants,I’m in California and so it is better for me to get in early to take care of their issues. Also, getting off work at 4:00 gives me time to get things done after work. I lose 1 1/2 per day to commute times. I get up at 5:30 and I am in bed by 10:00, I have to get at least 7 hrs sleep. Ideally, I would love to work from home, but that is not an option.

    1. Megs*

      I’ve never really thought about this before, but I’m really curious about the idea that getting off early leaves more time to do stuff after work, and I wonder if you (or someone else) could elaborate on this. If it’s just about having a fixed sleep schedule that works for you, I can understand that, although I would think a lot of things that could be done at 5 PM could also be done at 6 AM. But assuming everyone is getting the same number of hours of sleep, what is it about 4:00 to 10:00 that’s more productive to get things done than 7:00 to 1:00? The main thing that’s occurring to me is if you live somewhere where grocery stores usually close by 7:00, or maybe ease of making doctor’s appointments and stuff (though in my experience a lot of those places close by 5:00 anyhow and it’s much easier to get an 8:30 before work).

      1. Kyrielle*

        I won’t schedule doctor or dentist before work if I can help it, because they so often run late and it makes the day unpredictable. I schedule after work instead, and I have an early shift (6-2:30 or thereabouts). But also the eye doctor and the dentist both have one day a week they’re open until 7 pm. And it’s not just “run your errands” – it’s “have a social life”. You want to go out to dinner? Nice restaurants may not be open at 9 pm. You want to go to a play? Sorry, it’s half-over when you get off work. Etc. You want to get a movie with your friends? The good news is the movie theater has late showings; the bad news is that unless everyone’s schedules shifted when yours did, your friends are going to bed and aren’t up for a movie.

        You want to tend your gardening in the back yard? Well…there’s some light left since it’s spring, but it won’t last as long as if you were off at 4.

        1. Kyrielle*

          I’m not sure where my brain pulled 9 pm from. Assuming you can make it by 7:30, I think most are still open. I stand by the play and the movie, though. And time in the park / out in nature is similarly-affected to gardening.

          1. Megs*

            Thank you for the answer! I guess I don’t tend to do a ton of social things during the week anyhow so I didn’t think so much about that aspect of it. I live in a moderately big metro area where it’s easy to find movies starting at pretty much any hour of the evening and my two favorite restaurants (both walking distance from my house) have kitchens open until midnight or one, and even places that close later will usually seat you up to 9 or 10. When we have earlier events we just leave work early – flexible schedules are great! And as I’ve mentioned earlier, people who like sunlight don’t live in my state.

            1. Jules the First*

              Uh, speaking from experience, most of your neighbours (at least in an apartment building) are much less keen on you a) practicing the trumpet b) doing three loads of laundry c) vacuuming the bedroom at 6am than at 5pm…

              My current job standard schedule is 10-7 and it sucks sooooo much that I begged for a year to be allowed to work 9-6. We compromised – I work 9.30-6.30 with the occasional exception.

              1. Megs*

                Also good points, assuming you’re doing the split the day method of late hours – I would personally never get up at 6:30 am if I could possibly avoid it. The only one of those three things we ever do is laundry, and I’ve never had anyone complain about 7:00 pm laundry.

              2. Megs*

                As a side note, I did once ask my upstairs neighbors not to do laundry at 5:00 pm because I worked nights and woke up at 7:00 pm. They were sadly not cooperative.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Primo’s former upstairs neighbors – when he was still in the apartment – were quite offended at his request (accompanied with a plate of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies) that they, at least on the weekends, not start their daily morning load of laundry at 8 a.m. – maybe wait a little later?

                  We never could figure out why two retired people needed to do two loads of laundry a day. Primo wanted to leave a bag of Depends on their doorstep. I said no, as that was too much money for a practical joke.

      2. Kit*

        A lot of people find it easier to keep going when they’re already up than to get going before they really need to. When I worked 2:30-10:30 I never left my house before work, so grocery shopping happened at the 24-hour places afterward and banking and appointments happened on my days off. Now that I work 7-4 I do a lot more on my way home from work and don’t need to wait for days off to do 9-5 business, so it feels like I have more productive time.

        1. KR*

          This! If I have to go to work anywhere from 11-2, I feel like the whole day has been robbed from me because I can’t do anything that takes a long time or might be unpredictable. I have to get up later so I’m not dead at work later, and I can’t make full use of my time before work and truly relax.

      3. CaliCali*

        You can do things at HOME either at 5 p.m. or 6 a.m., but not things like errands (especially when they’re of unspecified length — if you need to go to the Post Office, it may take 5 or 15 minutes, which makes a lot more difference in the morning than the evening, when you probably don’t have a hard deadline to get somewhere) or social things like happy hour, dinner with a friend, etc.. Or, say, if you’re a runner but feel unsafe running in the dark — you can go for a 4:30 run in winter in much of the US, but not at 6 a.m. since it’s still dark. Plus, unless you and everyone in your household is on a shifted schedule, 7 p.m. is generally around dinner time, so it’s not having time before then.

        1. Megs*

          Thanks for answering – like I said to Kyrielle above, the social aspect of it hadn’t occurred to me since I live in an area where most things are open late, and I’m not big on getting together with friends on weeknights anyhow. I have a hard time imagining setting my normal schedule around the post office, since I probably only have to go to one every couple of years. I’ve never lived anywhere I’d feel unsafe running after dark, although I’d feel unsafe running outside 4-6 months out of the year at any time of day because of ice!

          1. Honeybee*

            I think I live in a very similar region, which is why a lot of these arguments aren’t making sense to me. Where I live in the dead of winter it gets dark around 4 pm, so leaving at 5 or 7 wouldn’t really make a difference as far as daylight hours go. And the grocery store nearest me is open 24 hours (plus I get my groceries delivered to my door, so I don’t really have to go grocery shopping physically. I could do it right now from my couch if I wanted to). And I don’t really do much social stuff during the week but when I do it’s pretty easy to get together with people around 7 pm to catch a movie or grab a drink.

      4. beachlover*

        Most things i do after work are stuff like grocery shopping, doc or dental appts etc. I am in a somewhat rural area, so it is more convenient for me to do shopping etc on the way home from work then on the weekends. Plus due to traffic patterns, if I left for work any later then my usual time or left work any later. it will extend my commute time. I have found the sweet spot! but even that is changing as they are building more and more homes.

  18. CR*

    I’m working 9-5 for the first time in my life and it’s perfect for me. I don’t have to wake up until 8! In general though, I would rather start earlier and end earlier.

  19. Kit*

    I have to be in at 7 to get the butcher shop as ready as we can for the 8 o’clock store open. It boggles my mind that people shop for groceries at 8 AM, but they do, and they seem really confused that we aren’t done all the cutting by the time they get there. How early do people need a pork roast? Buy your meat the night before and maybe one day I’ll be able to sleep past 6.

  20. SusanIvanova*

    I’m rapidly approaching 55 and I don’t think I’ll have shifted from my natural 11AM start time by then :)

  21. Mike*

    Regarding start time: Maybe we should realize that there are a vast array of people and no single time is going to work for all. I do like what one of my former employers did: everyone was expected to be in the office from 10:30 – 4:30 and the rest of the time was up to you. This allowed quite a bit of flexibility and I quite enjoyed getting there before most people. And when we moved into the city it allowed me to find a good commute time.

    1. Ann O'Nemity*

      Agreed. My company also has core hours, with flexible start and stop times. One extra benefit is that early morning and late afternoon meetings are rarely scheduled :)

  22. Mike C.*

    Christ, I’m at work at 6am, and there have been times when I needed to be in at 4:30am.

  23. Vicki*

    “a prominent sleep expert in the UK is making a push to change the beginning of the workday to 10 a.m., arguing that most people’s natural biological rhythms aren’t in sync with 9-5 hours until the age of 55”

    1. I work in Tech. 10am is considered early-normal. 9-5 is considered to be a joke. Anything before 9 is considered to be rude and, if made into a requirement, will cost you your best developers.

    2. My biorhythms aren’t in sync with 9-5 working hours at the age of 55 either.

  24. esra*

    Can we all just start working 10-4? Guarantee 95% of my office does not get more than 5-6 hours of work done in a day anyway.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      This would be a dream come true. I’d also consider working 4 longer days to have a three day weekend every week.

      1. esra*

        Agreed. I have a friend who does 4x ten hours and gets Fridays off. Yes please.

        Alternatively, 4x 10-4 and Fridays off because why not.

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