Why 9-5 life is killing your productivity

Why 9-5 is Killing Your Productivity
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🖊 This article was last updated on March 7, 2020

We’ve all heard the phrase, “the early bird catches the worm”. This is a common belief that in order to get what you want out of your day, or indeed, out of life, then you have to be an early riser. This goes hand in hand with the idea that office hours are 9 to 5. The truth is, this whole ‘worm catcher’ thing is a bit of a myth, and those office hours are not a one size fits all deal.

The 9 to 5 Model is Outdated

There is an argument that the 9 to 5 model is obsolete. The idea was first introduced during the industrial revolution as a way to sustain productivity in factory workers. Things have come a long way since then! The main problem with the 9 to 5 deal is that it doesn’t take into consideration when people work best and that that time may be different for everyone.

The Business Landscape is Changing

The individual is king. Entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and freelancers are on the rise. Shouldn’t we have a working-day system that recognizes the individual and their differences?

Isn’t it time to get rid of this 9 to 5 mentality and instead offer flexible working hours which allow people to work when they are more productive? Wouldn’t that be, I don’t know, more… productive?

Finding Your Own Prime Time of Productivity

There is this little thing called the circadian rhythm. This refers to our brain’s sleep-wake cycle, which dictates our energy levels throughout the day. It’s like an internal clock, or as I like to think of it, a little drummer keeping time inside your head, beating to a set rhythm, fast or slow at particular times of the day.

This circadian rhythm is hardwired into our brain and controls the highs and lows of our energy, creativity, and productivity.

The Power of When - Michael Breus, PhD
The Power of When – Michael Breus, PhD

Dr. Michael Breus, the author of The Power of When, believes that people belong to one of four different circadian rhythm personalities or ‘chronotypes’. They are: bear, lion, wolf, and dolphin. (Takes the early bird and night owl to a whole new level, doesn’t it?)

Which Chronotype are you?

Each chronotype has a different energy rhythm or cycle— some are more productive first thing in the morning—others are top of their game late at night.

Bear Chronotype Chart - Energy Levels

Most people fall into this chronotype. Bears are more productive and experience a dip in energy levels the mid-afternoon.

Lion Chronotype Chart - Energy Levels

Lions are the early-risers, most productive before lunch and tend to be completely spent by early evening. Not your party animal!

Wolf Chronotype Chart - Energy Levels

If you are a wolf then you might be slow to get going, but you’ll have two peak periods: from 12-2pm and again later in the evening just as the rest of the world is winding down.

Dolphin Chronotype Chart - Energy Levels

Dolphins may have trouble on the sleep part of their cycle, but their most productive time is generally mid-morning to early afternoon.

Not one chronotype is more productive (or lazy) than the other. The focus is on finding your own prime time to be able to harness your productivity when it is at its peak.

Create a Schedule to Fit Your Chronotype

The 9-5 schedule was made to accommodate the majority, the Bears, but that leaves all the other chronotypes out of sync and struggling to be the best versions of themselves.

Trying to get the best work from a wolf on a bear’s timetable is pretty much like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. It’s just not going to happen, not without a great deal of frustration anyway!

For example, for an early riser who has to work the night shift, productivity is going to be low. Likewise, a night owl (or a wolf in this case), who has to rise at 6:30 am to get to the office for 8:30 am, isn’t going to be the most productive person in your team.

Neither person in these scenarios are unproductive due to laziness, not caring, or not being good at their… it’s just how they are hardwired.

Working Out of Sync

Whether you work in the office or at home, continue to work to an out-of-sync schedule and you’re likely to experience entrepreneurial burnout sooner rather than later.

When we live and work to a schedule that is out of sync with our chronotype, we are immediately at a disadvantage. There is little to no chance of ever catching that worm, not because we can’t but because we are working in a system that won’t allow us to be our best selves.  

Break Free from the 9 to 5 and Realise Your Productivity Potential

Our human instincts weren’t hardwired with 9 to 5 office life in mind. While it may work for some people (bears and lions for instance), the “normal” working day puts limitations on creativity and productivity for many others.

It’s one of the main reasons that more people are turning to solopreneurship, remote work, and home office settings.

Freedom to march to the beat of your own drum

The internet has given people the power to choose their own schedules, and how and when they work. If you have chosen your own working hours, you may not have been aware of your own chronotype beforehand, but you were very likely and subconsciously following the beat of your own circadian rhythm when you did.


The 9 to 5 box is not the only way to work these days and paying attention to your own rhythms can help you find your best schedule and beat the stigma of the lazy night owl in the daytime!

Transform your productivity by first, figuring out what kind of chronotype or circadian rhythm personality you are with the help of Dr Breus’ chronotype quiz. Believe me, it’s scarily accurate!

Then, start by tracking your energy levels and find your prime time. Then you can make small adjustments to your schedule to make the best use of that time. Work with your wiring instead of against it and be your most productive self.

What chronotype are you? Have you made changes to your daily life to make better use of your biological prime time? Share your experiences below!

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