Coffee Talk

The most productive hour of each of our days.
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The most productive hour of each of our days.
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It didn't take long for us to realize that even with our small team of four, we work around the clock. More often than not, one of us will receive a late-night email from Alina, which in turn will be answered at the crack of dawn by Leslie, and attended to by Emily and Geoffrey later that day. It's far from something we do on purpose, but it somehow worked out that each of us are our most productive at different hours of the day. Here, we share that magic hour when we're each able to coast through our to-do lists—and an argument for what makes it so great:

Emily: I've always gotten up really early. When I was a kid, I'd wake up at 5:30/6 A.M. on the weekends, just revving to get my day started. So naturally I'd pick up the phone and call my friends to see when we could hang out. But back then, nobody had cell phones or their own lines, so I'd inevitably wake up the entire family (I'm embarrassed to admit that they even had to set certain times when I wasn't allowed to call). I still operate the same way - I love that time early in the morning when nobody else is up and I'm my most productive. There's something really satisfying about looking at the clock at 9 A.M. and realizing I've gotten so much done in the time I've been up. And then I have the entire day ahead of me, which I love! Of course in order for any of this to work, I pretty much require eight hours of sleep to function properly, which means I'm usually in bed by 10/10:30 P.M. 

Geoffrey: I'm kind of like a reverse vampire, in that I can't sleep once the sun rises. This has benefitted us since Sloan's arrival, although I wouldn't complain if she slept in a little more once in a while. Even though I get up early, I really don't hit my peak productivity until around 8 A.M., which makes me feel I'm getting a jumpstart on the day, without keeping farmer's hours. I've always kept this routine, even in college, where I'd set up a class schedule that was full of early morning lectures (I once took a 6:30 A.M. history seminar), leaving the rest of the day open and flexible. I prefer to relax at night, so the thought of having to do any work in the evening makes me resent not having more daylight hours. 

Alina: I am deeply and genetically a night owl. I am a vampire. I come alive at 6 P.M. and operate at peak capacity until about 2 A.M. Because I function so optimally in the evening, I'm almost always working at night voluntarily. In college, I was the person always starting work and big projects/papers at 8 p.m. I just couldn't start any earlier. Then I would stay up until 3 A.M., or 5 A.M., or pull an all-nighter, which I weirdly romanticized and relished. I love the same dark peace and quiet all these early birds (E, G, and Leslie) get from waking up early; I just get it in the wee hours of the night. Because everyone is asleep and it's so still and silent, I feel creatively alive, like it's just me and the work. If I had to I.D. my most productive hour during normal work hours, I'd say 11 A.M., because I've had time to ramp up and get my caffeine fix. 

Leslie: I've always been an early bird—like Emily, I love the time of day, around 5 A.M. to 6 A.M., when it's slightly dark out and most people are still asleep. That's not to say I don't look and feel like the Loch Ness monster emerging from the deep when my alarm goes off, but once I shake off the initial grogginess, I always remember how much I love it. Once I'm up, I usually pull up Cupcakes and Cashmere on my laptop to make sure everything's running smoothly, then go for a run, and make myself breakfast and a coffee when I get back, which I eat while catching up on the news and my to-do list. Since no one's up yet, there are no distracting emails coming in, so I can be solely focused on whatever tasks I want to get done—plus, the pressure's off since everything I'm able to complete before traditional work hours feels like bonus. The flip-side is that I'm borderline narcoleptic around 10 P.M. (one of these days I'm going to fall asleep standing in a bar if I'm not careful...), but it's a trade I'm willing to make for now.