What according to you is the best time to engage in creative work?
A new study shows that there isn’t one best time of day for creativity. Rather, peak daily creativity depends on your chronotype. Chronotype refers to your preferred times of activity and sleep. People can be of different kinds like strong morning types who are most alert in the morning and goes to sleep early, or strong evening types who are most alert later in the day and goes to sleep late.
The study says that people tend to be most creative when they work in sync with their chronotype.
Researchers conducted three studies to examine when during the day people tend to be most creative in their jobs. In each study they asked people about their typical sleep times, both falling asleep and waking up. Each study tested creativity at work in different ways:
One study asked people to complete a test requiring them to come up with creative ideas either in the morning (beginning of the work day) or in the later afternoon (end of the work day) on two consecutive days. Participants were asked to think of as many different uses as they could for everyday objects like a brick or newspaper.
Researchers examined three aspects of creative thinking including idea fluency, flexibility, and originality. The overall measure of creativity showed that idea generation was most successful for late chronotypes at the end of the workday and for the early chronotypes at the start of the workday.
Another study measured job-relevant creativity. People were asked a series of questions about how creative they were in their jobs in the morning and in the late afternoon of their work day. Again, it was found that creativity was highest for the early chronotypes in the morning. Those with later chronotypes did not show higher creativity in the late afternoon, possibly because their peak time is reached even later in the day.
The third study included a group of professionals whose jobs explicitly required creativity like architects, designers, artists and creative directors. Over the course of a work week, they were asked to describe what they did throughout their days, from 6am-9am, 9am-noon, noon-3pm, 3pm-6pm, and 6pm-9pm. For each of the different time periods, they were asked questions about their work creativity. Later chronotypes were increasingly creative during the course of the workday while earlier chronotypes became less creative as the day went on.
Practical benefits of the study
This research has some practical implications for how to increase creativity. For those in jobs requiring creativity can benefit from aligning the creative aspects of their jobs to their chronotype. Ideally, managers on work teams might take into consideration preferences of their team members. This allows opportunities to match preferred time of day with creative tasks and tends to give better results in terms of productivity.
Challenging common beliefs
The research challenges the common advice that the best time of day for creative work is in the morning. Many eminent people like writers, politicians, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs and more have said that morning is the best time for creativity. But now you know that this is not the only schedule for creating!