How often have you seen the click-bait headline like “The best time to [insert dreaded activity] is [insert inconvenient time].”? I’ve been listening to a lot of Andrew Huberman podcasts over the past few months. I love his science-based approach to everything. He talks about his morning routine based on the best times to do everything. I get into it so much that I fantasize about waking up early and hopping on my treadmill after drinking a glass of salt water while staring into the sun – but let’s be honest, I HATE working out in the morning.
And here’s where it all falls apart. When we try too hard to follow the “best times” to do something; when we don’t do it at that time, often we don’t do it altogether. Let’s pick back up on the treadmill thing. Over the past few months, my best time to work out has been around 11 am, followed by lunch. A few years ago, my best time to work out was 3 pm. The point is that I was working out! If I focused too much on the scientifically best time to work out, it’s highly likely I wouldn’t do it at all. And even though 3 pm might not be the scientifically optimal time for my workout – doing it any time is better than never.
For some, the start of a new year is when they set New Year’s resolutions, revisit and set new goals, or dream about a better future. There’s something to the timing that researchers have named “the fresh start effect.”Their research shows that we’re more likely to accomplish goals that we set at the beginning of some period – for example, a Monday, the start of a quarter, or the start of a new year.
A study found that approximately 10% of people keep their new year’s resolutions. I’m sure there are several reasons, but one of those reasons is that we’re far too idealistic and precious about timing. For example, we get overly concerned about the best time and place to do any specific thing – and when we miss that ideal window, it all goes out.
So, for 2023 I want to encourage you to do things when it's best for you! Whether it’s a resolution, a goal, or a new habit you want to work on or develop – make sure it works for you. Science might tell you that 10 pm isn’t the best time to start that new habit – but if it’s the only time you’ll get it done (and it doesn’t disturb other parts of your life), then do it! Any time is better than never!