The A.M. CEO

If you find your best thinking hours are those that run opposite to the typical 8 to 5 daylight schedule, you're not alone. Entrepreneur magazine reported in 2007 that many corporate CEOs shared a common late-night (early morning) work shift.

Often late-night entrepreneurs who work into the wee hours at least once a week often get quick e-mail replies from other CEOs and feel a sense of camaraderie. "There's a special kind of ‘Yup, we're working on this when no one else is around' [feeling]."

So, if you tend to work 9 P.M. to midnight (or later), how do you keep up with the rest of the world during daytime hours? Here are a few tips to consider.

1. Try not to schedule important meetings first thing. You may not be ready to handle intense meeting schedules planned by folks who slept all night in a bed - and not at their desk.

2. Be careful with answering emails and/or the phone before you get some sleep. Sleep-deprived brains respond differently. I find that if I'm hyped up on caffeine, I tend to act too fast, but without sleep, my brain slows to a crawl and I can't make a decision quickly.

3. Take a nap before you try an A.M. work session. Cut back on the heavy foods and stock up on water and healthy snacks, which will keep your body feeling good.

4. Put a limit on it. Don't schedule too much for an A.M. session and if you're too tired, just go to bed. A.M. worker CEOs report that the middle of the night sessions help them keep up with bigger projects that require more focus. So if you find yourself in the flow, keep at it.

5. If you find yourself working an A.M. session at least once a week, try to plan on the same night each week. This may not be possible, but it will help you develop a somewhat schedule. As you include an A.M. shift in your scheduled work, you may find yourself looking forward to the quiet, or you'll shift other work around (if possible) during a typical 8 to 5 day in order to avoid burning that midnight oil.

In an upcoming post, time management gurus discuss techniques (including email management) to save you time and perhaps avoid weekly night-time work sessions.

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