I needed to set a meeting time with someone, and she said, "I know my zone. Let's meet at 11:00."
I was instantly intrigued by this phrase, "know my zone," and I asked, "Why 11:00? Why is that 'your zone?'"
She said, "I know from experience that if something's important, I should schedule for 11:00. Any earlier, and I might be late or feel rushed. I have to drop off my sons at school, commute into the city, all that. I need a big margin. Plus, by 11:00 I'm wide awake and in the swing of my day. If I schedule something after lunch, I'm more tired and distracted. I get a lot of work done, but I use the 11:00 slot for what's most important."
By chance, I was talking to a writer friend about his habits, and he told me, "I never write before noon." Now, this is interesting, because one of the most popular pieces of advice about good habits—and specifically about the habit of writing -- is to write first thing in the day, because your mind is clearer, you have more energy, etc. This is certainly true for me. So I asked him why he doesn't write before noon.
"I'm foggy," he said. "It takes me a while to get going. By noon I'm ready."
These exchanges reminded me of one of the most important things I've learned about habits, as I've been writing my new book: there's no magic, one-size-fits-all solution.
Some people—maybe most people—do better when they schedule important habits for the morning, but that's not true for everyone. Along the same lines, some people do better when they start small; others when they start big. Some people like a lot of activity and stimulation; others prefer quiet and simplicity.
We don’t make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people’s habits; we must know our own nature, and what habits serve us best.
Each of us needs to figure out our zone. Self-knowledge! Everything in habits and happiness comes down to self-knowledge.
Do you know your zone? I'm a morning person, and I know that very well about myself.
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