A Secret to Good Habits and Happiness? Know Your Zone
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.