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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

It’s Not in Your Head: Daylight Saving Time Is Ruining Your Life

tired person
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Without much warning, Daylight Saving Time rears its ugly head every year and takes away an hour of previous sleep from your weekend. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably had hundreds of people tell you that it’s not a big deal. “It’ll all even out eventually,” they say. “You’ll get used to the time change before you know it, so stop your whining.”

But alas, it’s not just you! In fact, there’s actual science to backup the fact that Daylight Saving Time can impact your ability to do your job (well, at least for the first few days after the clocks change).

Christopher Barnes, an assistant professor of management and organization at the University of Washington, recently found that most people tend to lose 40 minutes of sleep after Daylight Savings Time. Additionally, those 40 minutes also lead people to slack off on 20% of an assigned task on the following Monday. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but it’s worth reemphasizing that this is a pretty significant amount of time. And all because the clocks get moved forward an hour.

So this is good news, right? This is the confirmation that we need to tell all of our friends and family that we are not crazy for how unproductive we are immediately after the time changes.

This is perfect!

Well, sort of.

Knowing is always half the battle, but it’s also not a good enough excuse to kick up your feet for a few days. Sure, you’ve lost a little sleep (we all have)—and that sucks. But the truth is that your to-do list isn’t going to take care of itself. And there are plenty of other sleepy people around the office who are depending on you to stay on top of your game.

I’m not here to tell you to find ways to completely defy science. After all, there’s only so much you can do when all your body wants is to go back to bed. But what you can do is take Muse editor Alyse Kalish’s advice on how to do eight hours of work in four.

  1. Assess your to-dos.
  2. Move any meetings that can be moved to later in the week.
  3. Communicate with your team and see if there are any deadlines that can be pushed back.
  4. Break your tasks into time blocks so you’re not trying to focus for too long.
  5. Force yourself to focus during those designated time blocks by putting your phone away and signing off social media.

At the very least you can accept that today (or maybe even tomorrow) won’t be your most productive. But at least you can sleep easy knowing that this wasn’t in your head.