One of the points of discussion that usually comes up among software and web developers is the best time to learn and hone your skills within the day/night.
In fact, the best retention rate is largely dependent on your sleeping habits, partly on your genetics or what runs down in your family, and your environment.
For example, a developer working in the outskirts of Italy will most likely have a different learning routine than a developer in Norway, regardless of the timezone.
It’s about the genetics
Not all about the genetics, but genetics does impact to some extent on how you best work.
Early Bird vs Night Owl
You may find out now for yourself whether you are an early riser (Early bird), or stay up late in the evening (Night owl). You can quickly determine which one you are by how comfortable you are considering yourself as. Now that you’ve made that quick honest decision, let’s use this as a basis from where we can find out your optimum sleeping routine (see below).
The environment plays a role
Both your home and your workplace are environments that you find yourself in the most. In fact, if you are a freelancer, your home may most likely be your workplace! You workplace is considered your common location for performing tasks. This might even include a freelancer’s coffee shop!
When we mean environment, this is work, home, and geographic location. Let’s take a look at how these two kinds of environments affect your best time for learning software/web development.
How this affects you is your productivity in your workplace. Are you focus-oriented towards completing your tasks? Are you provided with focus in the workplace you are in?
Once you improve your productivity in the workplace — that is through your mind and your work environment — the next step will be how you consider your home environment as an abode to relax, recuperate, buffer, and improve your sleep routine.
There can be more distractions in your home than in your workplace. These are largely due to having other people in your home/area. If possible find times where you can be alone away from the noise. You may want to invest in a pair of great noise cancelling headphones. I currently use the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. I scoured around Reddit’s audiophiles section especially to find out based on my budget of ~ £100. They appear bulky but that’s the only disadvantage it has! Amazing audio quality, noise canceling, and comfortable.
After you’ve assessed your best times for laser beam focused learning, there is still a factor based on where you live on Earth.
It’s about Geographic location
The best time to learn in the day does make a difference from the weather you experience, and your people environment too. Developing in Shoreditch London is quite different from developing in the a cottage farm in New Zealand. There is a study1 that says you will gain more productivity being around people who are as productive as you. But this is just a heads up that if you wish to move to be more productive,
How to improve your best time to learn?
Working with code means a lot of Logic throughout. You may not be certain that you are even truly a Night owl or an Early bird, without testing it for yourself.
Test for your optimum sleeping routine
Testing your body and mind on what it is best comfortable with is a great task, but it’s one that you only have to accomplish once.
Realise too that you will have to track your sleeping habits and in effect your entire sleeping routine through 1 week at a time. This is to be in sync with your body’s natural rhythm, in that it takes around a week for it to adopt a new routine. The proper number of days to learn a new habit permanently is 66 days, but 1 week will be enough to test your body’s proper sleeping habits.
There are many sleep habit trackers out there as apps, but you can also pursue the journalling way. Make sure to list down (a) what time you do a task and (b) when that task ends.
You’re going to sleep at 10pm, try out waking up after 90 minutes through an alarm, and set another alarm 90 minutes later, repeatedly until it’s 5:30am. This is following the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) cycles pattern. Take note how you felt about this. Track these feelings for the rest of the 1 week. And from that dataset you can tweak around to get the best grin for you.
You might want to first test out 1 month following the above example as the opposite — either Night owl or Early bird.
The best time to learn in the day is in where you realise you get most of your work done. For most people this will be the morning, but then again there is a large portion of people who consider themselves ‘night owls’. The only way to find out is to experiment with your sleep habits at 1 week at a time.
1 Rauch, James E. Productivity gains from geographic concentration of human capital: evidence from the cities. No. w3905. National Bureau of Economic Research, 1991.