Is it better to work till late, or wake up early in the morning to do it?

Here’s the situation - you have a piece of mentally challenging and creative work (programming, writing a report, research, doing mathematics and the like). Tomorrow is a typical work day or school day.

You need 4 hours to finish the work and it is late. If you sleep 4 hours from now, you barely have enough 8 hours rest for the next day. Meaning if you sleep now, you still have 4 hours to do the work tomorrow. And you’re tired.

What will you do?

Me, I will choose to do it before going to sleep, for I have a habit of oversleeping and may eat up into that 4 hours.

Your choice?

It really depends on the project. This happened to me at the end of last year, actually - I had a project which had been delayed (not on my end) and at the same time, the scope of work had been increased, yet the deadline remained the same.

In that case, I did as you did: worked the extra at night. My reasoning was, I could check the work in the morning for errors. If I had done the work in the morning, I wouldn’t have time to check it.

I can also easily add work hours to the next few days in order to catch up other things. I’ve found that I can really squeeze a lot of work hours out of a week now that I’m working exclusively from home. A lot of it is done in pyjamas, but hey.

Work at night. It takes me a while for my brain to really kick in in the morning, esp. when I haven’t had enough sleep. NinetyWt’s point about having time to check it is really good too.

Work til late.

Personally I find it’s easier and I get more done faster if I just work through being tired/hungry/uncomfortable/whatever because I figure I’m already doing it so I may as well just finish it now rather than having to stop, come back in the morning and have to get myself going.

Work tonight, because experience has told me it’s likely to take longer than I think it will and leaving myself exactly 4 hours in the AM won’t be enough. Instead I’ll probably just work later into the night and do with less sleep. Happens all the time, actually.

I’m much more functional and creative late at night than early in the morning, so I’d just stay up.

It’s usually a combination, and depends on the project. As I get older I’m more apt to get some sleep and work in the morning

Usually, I don’t finish anything without the push of deadline pressure, so going to bed at 11 and getting up at 3:30 works for me.

If a job involve creative thinking rather than just persistence, then breaking for sleep lets me see things with a fresh eye and solutions can become instantly obvious.

If I “pull an all-niter” then I’m usually zombified for a couple of days thereafter. If a job goes in after no-sleep and then needs rush changes for the next two days it can be ugly for my mind and the quality of my work.

All that said, if a project needs to be finished at a certain time “absolutely and without fail” I’ll stay up till it’s done. Frequently though, hard deadlines turn out to be bogus, and executives will make piddling, arbitrary changes that render your heroics pointless.

If I am on a roll and getting stuff done I’ll stay up, but I am a morning person and generally perform better first thing. So it really depends.

Absolutely wake up in the morning.

I’d stay up. Not only because I’m likely to do a better job at night, but because knowing I still have to finish the next day will usually mean I don’t sleep very well because I’m worried about it.

Usually end up staying awake due to being on a roll, but sometimes I think it takes longer that way. If it is something that takes concentration, I often find that I hit the wall at a certain point. I can’t think without going off on to weird tangents, and often find my head on the keyboard. I often feel more creative late at night, but can’t capitalize on it because I am too tired to concentrate.

If it is something like cleaning up and I am exhausted, I would rather go to bed early so I can get up earlier. I figure if I stay up late I will sleep later, so I would rather sleep earlier and put in the time when I am rested rather than exhausted.

Doesn’t really matter. If the project has come to this then it’s doomed anyway. At least, for me, anyway.

Definately stay up and finish it at night. I’m a night person. I’d strongly suggest never trusting me with important work early in the morning. 2AM is fine, 6AM is not.

Depends. If I have to do something where I don’t know how long it will take, I stay awake. If I do know how long it will take, I do it in the morning.

This happens to me a lot, since I often get short notice work and have a life of seemingly unending drama. Generally I do a bit of both - stay up late and get up early, making sure I get at least four hours’ sleep.

Im an up-early person myself. I know this makes me a minority, but that’s ok. In nursing school I would go to school, then do anywhere from 2-4 hours of work (I did homecare during those years) then go home. I would be so tired I would be falling asleep by 8 pm, and was completely ineffective. I started going to bed at 8 pm, setting my alarm for 3 or 4 and getting up to do my homework. The information would be fresh in my brain then when I went to class, instead of struggling to understand arcane bits of pathophysiology late at night.

This is still my preferred method, but I have learned not to depend on this. I am a mom, so a sick child, last minute lunch box issues, a snow day, and so forth can comepletely cripple my best intentions. Now I usually suck it up and do it late, although it is never as good as if I can get things done first thing.

I’m a late nighter anyway, so I vote for stay up and finish. But that might only work for someone like me who doesn’t have to get up until after 9am anyway.

I almost always will get up early and pump it out.