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lark owl or third bird

Are You the Lark, Owl or Third Bird?

Rachel Danusaputra

It’s a Monday. You step into a 8.30am meeting and you are greeted by a range of faces. At the end of the table, you see a lady wearing red, bright and awake, ready to tackle anything that comes her way. At the other end of the table, you see a young man, probably in his 20s, with his tie a little too loose, his shirt crumpled and his soul still flying over his bed.

However, by 4pm that afternoon, the tables have turned. You start noticing yawns from the lady in red, but the man in his 20s look sharper and his tie is straight and perfect. Why is this so? Why do different people’s energy levels change so drastically throughout the day?

The thing is… we are all subject to the bird within us. Knowing whether you’re an early bird (or lark), owl, or somewhere in between (the third-bird) can help you optimise your productivity in the workplace. Bestselling author Daniel Pink argues that we are all governed by a ‘hidden pattern of daily life’ that drastically affects our moods throughout a day.

You can jump on Google to find out which bird is controlling your life (i.e. your chronotype) but it is easy to categorise yourself just by answering this simple question:

Tomorrow is your day off, no alarms, no work, no plans. Generally, what time will you sleep today and around what time will you wake up the next day? From this, you can determine the midpoint of your sleep.

  • If your midpoint of sleep is 3.30am or earlier, you’re probably a lark.

  • If your midpoint of sleep is 5.30am or later, you’re probably an owl

  • If your midpoint is somewhere in between, you’re probably a third bird

And then from there, take a look below to make sure you’re doing the right thing at the right time.


(Figure from Zameena Mejia’s article)

From this, you can learn to best manage your time – when to make important decisions, when to provide insights and when to do monotonous tasks. For the majority of people (larks + third-birds), we work best in the morning and make the worst decisions after lunch. So with this in mind, you might want to re-schedule all your meetings and tasks with the big decisions at stake. Society has structured work norms to suit the timetables of larks and third-birds, so the poor owls actually have it the hardest!

If you want to find out more, get yourself a copy of ‘When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’ by Dan Pink. I found it to be an awesome read and very helpful to develop effective time management.

Rachel Danusaputra