I needed to set a meeting time with someone, and she said, "I know my zone. Let's meet at 11:00."

I was intrigued by this phrase, and I asked her, "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 then, but I save the best slot, at 11:00, 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 learned about habits when I was writing my book Better Than Before: 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.

Published on: Jun 12, 2017
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