December 13th, 2021 | Dizzy At Work? Work According To Your Chronotype!

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Dizzy At Work? Work According To Your Chronotype!

Have you ever felt that you underperform at work? …That you are never fully rested, and even after taking a proper vacation time, you still feel dizzy at the office? That your professional development is slow and suboptimal even though you are diligent and enjoy what you do for a living? Well, it might so be that your work and qualities of a good employee  are not aligned with your natural circadian clock — time to learn about chronotypes.

“Chrono,” means “relates to time.” Thus, a chronotype is a term to summarize all behaviors related to circadian rhythms. The fact that individuals have varying preferences for sleeping time during the night has a deep biological meaning. In the old days, this interpersonal variability allowed small tribes to stay vigilant to potential dangers overnight. Thus, morningness-eveningness in the population follows a normal distribution (Roenneberg et al., 2007). This trait is probably at least partly genetically determined (Pegoraro et al., 2015), and we cannot influence it. As the sleeping coach Alex Savy likes to say, “courtesy of the PER3 gene that defines one’s circadian patterns.”

And yet, today, most working environments are under the dictatorship of morning larks: in a typical working scheme, employees should appear in the office in the early morning no matter what their natural preferences are. In that sense, the professional development and career management process of night owls tend to be hindered.  


More Than Just Two Groups of People

Stereotypically, we like to think that there are two groups of individuals: the artsy, hipster, scatterbrained, intelligent, Einstein-type night owls, and the self-disciplined, well-organized, peaceful, positive, efficient morning larks.

However, in reality, there are more than just two possibilities! In fact, there are at least four categories you can fall into, each of them displaying different activity patterns throughout the day. They are conventionally named after four animals displaying similar activity patterns: a bear, a lion, a wolf, and a dolphin. Your being a good employee and professional success can well depend on whether you can find a position where you can use your energy optimally! Therefore, it is good to take this factor into account while building your career development strategies. 

The Bear

The bears are the closest category to what we conventionally understand as morning larks. They wake in the morning, keep being a good employee and most productive before lunch, and get dizzy right after lunch, to then decompress completely in the afternoon.

The ideal schedule

7 a.m.: Waking up 

10 a.m.–2 p.m.: Deep/creative work

2–4 p.m.: Lighter tasks 

4 p.m.+: Relax

11 p.m.–7 a.m.: Sleep

How to recognize if you represent this chronotype: If you feel an inflow of energy while sitting down by your desk in the morning, and then your energy is slowly leaking throughout the day, and if you experience issues with starting any new tasks after lunch, you are most likely a bear!

Good news: Well, the good news is that the majority of the adult population are bears. So, you are not the only one! As a bear, you are also likely an optimist and an extroverted person. Most workplaces, especially in large companies and organizations, are suited to accommodate bears, therefore, you can feel catered to and understood. Bears keep a solid, steady working pace, moving systematically from task to task. In the long run, their professional development and career management process are systematic and steady. They always go forward — without rapid explosions of energy and then, the periods of downtime. As a bear, you don’t overpromise at work; you tend to be solid and reliable.

Bad news: Your “energy bar” dries out relatively quickly throughout the day, which impacts your professional development and career management process. Therefore, you need to be careful about how you allocate your energy in the morning. Be religious about your uninterrupted deep work time before lunch, as the focus will make you thrive! You best meeting time in the afternoon where you no longer focus on new professional tasks. Therefore, lobby for afternoon meetings at work.

As a bear, you are not the type of person who can throw all-nighters, party during the working week, and then come to the office in the morning and perform. Most bears can only handle this when they are 20… After that — sorry, not anymore! Therefore, take care of the quality of your sleep. One weak night sleep in a working week and you won’t recuperate until the next weekend. 


The Wolf

On the contrary, the wolves are the category that is the closest to what we conventionally understand as night owls. Wolves gear up to work in the morning slower than others and start functioning intellectually at about noon. They also experience a second boost of energy about 6 pm, when most people in their professional environment are already done with work. About 15% of the population of the job market belongs to this category.

The ideal schedule

8–9 a.m.: Waking up

10 a.m.–12 p.m.: Lighter tasks

12–2 p.m.: Deep/creative work

2–5 p.m.: Lighter tasks

5–9 p.m.: Deep/creative work

9–12 a.m.: Relax

12–8 a.m.: Sleep

How to recognize if you represent this chronotype: If you cannot get down to any meaningful tasks right of the bat at work, but rather, you are tempted to check your emails first, you might be a wolf. Mind that is easy to mess procrastination with this chronotype. The difference is all about what happens later throughout the day. If you still can produce in the afternoon, you are a wolf. And if you don’t, you might be just plain lazy 🙂

Good news: Wolves are creative and independent. Moreover, they have two creative periods during the working day instead of just one, which makes them competitive professionals, who have good employee characteristics. Furthermore, wolves are better than bears in handling unpredictability. They can also handle an unforeseen disturbance in sleep a bit better at work.

It’s also not true that wolves are always artists — millions of shrewd analytic minds also share this profile. Furthermore, now in the times of remote work taking over the professional world, wolves have more opportunities than ever to fine-tune their working days to fit their individual needs.

Bad news: Wolves can have hard time working among bears, as it’s not easy for them to wake up early in the morning. As a wolf, you can also feel like a misfit as your preferred working style won’t necessarily fit the expectations at your workplace. At the end of the day, many bosses at employees at face value: if you are not in the office between 9-5, it means that you don’t work or you lost your motivation at work.

Furthermore, wolves tend to be more introverted and shy. Many wolves find freelancing or startup life their way to live life as they can then adjust their working hours to their nonlinear activity pattern. However, as mentioned before, now in the times of remote work it is easier than ever to adjust your working style to this profile in any working environment.


The Lion

Just as bears, lions are morning larks — just on steroids. They wake up even earlier and run out of energy even faster than the bears. Obviously, they subsequently go to sleep earlier as well. About 15% of all professionals belongs to this category.

The ideal schedule:
5-6 a.m.: Waking up
6 a.m.–12 p.m.: Deep/creative work
12–4 p.m.: Lighter tasks
4–10 p.m.: Relax
10 p.m. – 5 a.m.: Sleep

How to recognize if you represent this chronotype: Lions wake up with hens. They experience the flow when they just wake up in the middle of the night, sit down by their desk and work without any distractions. If you have these experiences, and you can’t believe how much you can produce while starting to work before breakfast, you are likely to be a lion.

Good news: Lions are good at self-management. They can produce a lot of output in one block of time before lunch. They also enjoy exercising early. Lions typically display charisma, and are often seen as leaders in their career management process. It’s not accidental that many people with this profile manage to successfully pull off large projects and launch new companies. That’s also why many aspiring entrepreneurs try to fit into the shoes of lions and are up at 5 am every day. This lifestyle is not made for everyone though.

Bad news: Most workplaces are not suited for morning larks as extreme as lions. Also, if you wake up and start working before 5 am, you need to accept that for most of your working time, you will be alone with your questions. Hence, you need to rely on yourself. Furthermore, your family might not understand your sleeping pattern and object putting an alarm clock as early. Lastly, as most social gatherings happen in the evenings, you might miss out on lots of opportunities because of your individual schedule.

The Dolphin

Lastly, about 10% of the professionals are dolphins. Dolphins gear up the longest during the day, but once they reach their peak productivity about 3 pm, they keep productive until about 9 pm in the evening. Alike wolves, they are creative and scatter-brained. Furthermore, they usually don’t sleep too well.

The ideal schedule:
7:00–8:00 a.m.: Waking up
8–10 a.m.: Easy tasks
10 a.m.–12 p.m.: Deep/creative work
12–4 p.m.: Deep/creative work but with less pressure
4 p.m.–12 a.m.: Relax
12–7:00 a.m.: Sleep

How to recognize if you represent this chronotype: If you gear up at work really slowly and you can never push yourself to do meaningful work before lunch, you might be a typical dolphin. Also, if you feel that you are all around the place, and you cannot focus on one task for too long — well, there you go.

Good news: Dolphins are typically creative and intelligent, and much more extroverted than wolves. Therefore, even if your working style is different from most professionals around you, no need to worry about your professional career development. With your social skills, you will likely get out of any problems anyways.

Bad news: Your distractibility might stand on your path to professional success. In most professionals, lazor focus is the key to success in career development process, and if you can’t achieve it, sooner or later you will get outraced by other professionals. Work on the quality of your sleep, and create optimal conditions to sleep well. Make sure to calm down and rest before going to bed every night!

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Hard To Be Free

Last two years, and the times of the pandemic, showcased one fact about the job market more than clearly: it is not easy to be free as a professional. Many of us wondered before the crisis: how would it feel if I could plan my day any way I wanted? Now we know! And, I feels weird to say the least. Despite no one watching your shoulders, you still feel like a phantom boss was standing just next to you and judged your every move.

And despite the fact that we can decide how we plan out our day, we still feel compelled to plan it in a way that we were taught back in the school days: as an intensive 9-to-5 grind. Even if this is not our preferred style. When we are not in our (virtual) office during these working hours, we start feeling FOMO.

But this might be the best occasion to experiment. Perhaps you don’t live according to your natural rhythm, and now is the time to test this hypothesis?


And, which one of the four profiles gives the highest chance of life success or your professional career? Is it the lion who wakes up so early — the stereotypical entrepreneurial path? Or, the bear, who goes forward slow and steady, keeping a stable working pace? Or, a wolf who excels in creativity, and is active twice a day? Or perhaps the dolphin — creative and sociable?

Well, it turns out that it’s one of them! The biographies of famous and accomplished people clearly indicate that there is no pattern. For instance, despite the stereotypes related to successful entrepreneurs, Jeff Bezos reportedly wakes up at 8 am.

Of course, even given these four types of chronotypes, the human circadian clock is still a spectrum. None of these professional profiles will perfectly fit you. But, it is all subject to experiment! For more information about the chronotypes, please check out Michael Breus’ book, “The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype — and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More.”

Please cite as:

Bielczyk, N. (2021, December, 13th). Dizzy At Work? Work According To Your Chronotype! Retrieved from

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Would you also like to discover which tribe in the job market you fit best given your natural activity pattern?

We have built a self-navigation tool, The Ontology of Value Test, that helps professionals and students in choosing the right career path. The test will show you where you fit in the job market given your natural working style, personality, and values. It will give you a great overview of the potential and the opportunities that you have in the job market of today – and if you have traits of a good investor, the test will pick up on them! 

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