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Insomnia. Back in high school used to be I had trouble falling asleep, now I have issues staying asleep. So – quite frequently – I toss and turn in that magical hour between 3 and 4 a.m. Every once in a while I surrender and just get up. And I head downstairs.

Which brings me to the night stairs. This is a photo of the night stairs at Melrose Abbey taken on our honeymoon in Scotland in 2013 (the first Cistercian abbey in Scotland, founded in 1136 by King David I, in case you were wondering).

Night Stairs - Melrose Abbey, Scotland

The night stairs – the staircase that led from the monk’s dormitory directly to the chapel.

The presumably sleepy monks used the night stairs to go from their dormitory into the chapel for the various services. I think of them sometimes heading to matins or lauds by candlelight as I tiptoe downstairs. Bi-modal sleep (it’s a thing) – and I’m one of the queens (see https://aeon.co/essays/why-broken-sleep-is-a-golden-time-for-creativity by Karen Emslie if you’re curious)!

The monks were onto something. It’s quiet and there’s time to ponder in the middle of the night. So last night I had a good burst of creativity around 4:30 a.m. as I thought about and planned for a workshop I’m running in the fall.

So the question is – when are you most productive? Notice and respect your natural rhythms – my mother used to read until 2 or 3 a.m. on a regular basis  so a day job was always an utter disaster for her. Just don’t fight it, whichever way works best for you – and plan your day accordingly. I’m a morning person married to a night person. I’m ready for bed by 10 p.m. so the evening job I had for the last few weeks has been hard on me.

If you need to get creative stuff done at work or at home, block your best windows and leave the rest for more routine work. Like reviewing email and prepping your next day’s to-do list. Or the vacuuming… 

Darcy Roberts is a business and life coach in Oakville, Ontario helping busy people get stuff done – at work, at home, and everywhere in between. Call 416.219.6694 or email darcy@spiralbydesign.ca to learn more.