Being a morning person or a night owl is really “a thing,” and according to recent studies, genetics might be controlling which one you are.
I have known some people who just cannot get up early; and I’ve known others who, when they do get up early, are extremely unhappy about it — they complain about having to be somewhere before 8:00 a.m., but they send me emails at 1:00 a.m.
Sleep is important to our health and overall well-being, and most of us are not getting enough of it. There are too many distractions, and some of us have the kind of flexible work schedule that makes it easy to work anytime and all the time.
The reality of real estate’s schedule
Real estate often begins at 8:30 p.m., which is about when my problem-solving skills, patience, decision making and people skills start to degrade rapidly. I don’t trust my own judgment after 9:00 p.m., and at about 11:00 p.m. I notice my motor skills slipping.
The quality of my work after 8:30 p.m. isn’t nearly as high as it is during the early morning hours when I can get things done faster and better. Sometimes I wish I had a 9-to-5 job.
Writing an offer after 8:30 p.m. is a common experience and so is negotiating past 11:00 p.m. Sometimes I have to go with the flow even though it’s painful because, in this market, waiting until morning can hurt our clients.
Establishing a routine
My phone goes into “do not disturb” mode at 9:00 p.m. (It has to stay on because I need to be available for family members.) In “do not disturb’ mode the phone makes no sounds and does not light up or blink. I can see notifications on the screen if I unlock the phone and look at the screen.
I place the phone face down on a table close to my bed. The people who might need to reach me know how to get my attention.
By about 9:00 p.m. I am usually reading, and I’ll keep reading until I fall asleep — usually sometime between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
In order to get a good night’s sleep, I need to disconnect from electronic devices for at least 90 minutes, and reading seems to help. (I have a reading list and read a minimum of 25 books a year.)
If I stay awake or am kept awake until 1:00 a.m., I will still wake up before 6:00 a.m. I can go for about three days on less than six hours of sleep a night, and then I sort of fall apart.
Real estate emergencies usually occur after 8:30 p.m., which is why I rarely look at my email after 8:00 p.m. — someone’s emergency might keep me awake at night. Someone might tell me they are backing out of a purchase or an agent might let me know that a closing is delayed, and that delay — caused by some aggravating nonsensical reason I have no control over — will cause irreparable harm to my clients.
Communication with clients
When I work with clients, I do my best to learn what time of day they like to communicate and how. The night owls know that when they wake up in the morning they will find an answer to their question; the morning people know that early communication is alright and they can feel free to contact me before work.
I used to try to accommodate the real estate night shift but finally stopped fighting it. I now just let people know that I’ll do almost anything to make their real estate dreams come true as long as I can get it done before 8:30 p.m.
My most productive time of day is from about 5:30 a.m. until about 10:00 a.m. I get an amazing amount accomplished between those hours. I am the most creative in the morning, and that is when I write or process pictures or create marketing materials or social media campaigns.
There isn’t anything wrong with being a night owl or a morning person, but I think it is important to know which category you fall into. Independent contractors should be making their own schedules and should try to work during hours when productivity is at its highest.
Setting limits is also important. No one can accommodate everyone all day and all night. I want to work during hours when I can get more accomplished better and in less time. I don’t want to make a mistake on a contract or say the wrong thing to the wrong person.
I make no apologies for being a morning person — I just want to be understood. Please don’t ask a morning person to get creative or answer a complicated question after 8:30 p.m. — I wouldn’t ask a night owl to join a 6:30 a.m. brainstorming session.
Resist the urge to judge those who work on a different schedule than you do, and take the time to find out if your client or colleague welcomes contact late at night or early in the morning.