Friday, 7 June 2013

Circadian Rhythms

...and where mine has gone!

Back in the day, when i decided my own daily timetable (not dictated by family life!) it was totally different. I was living on my own, in my little studio flat and here's roughly how my days went. Well, firstly, I'm NOT a morning person, it takes me a while to function!... and i hate alarms. I'd wake up to music and normally about 10.30-11.30. I know terrible isn't it... well, that's just the time my body wakes up if i'm left alone! I'd start by planning what need to be done, read the mail, look at deadlines etc and do any little tasks, potter about... with a cup of coffee (that was breakfast). Then it would be lunch around midday and i'd then start on work, get the ball rolling. Afternoons were mixed, but mostly I'm just not at full speed, i'd need some fresh input, I'd sit and read whilst listening to music (music played all day, at a decent level) or I'd take a walk, sit and have a coffee somewhere, think, watch the world go by, meet people. Right, time for dinner, buy anything i needed and head back. Now we're talking. I've eaten and I'm ready to go! It's about 6pm and the energy/creativity is moving. This is the period i'd get the most done. Everyone was finished at work, so I'd get no calls about jobs etc... i was off the clock and the pressures were off. Work, work, work. I'd have a break about 10pm, coffee, snack, bit of TV, then it was back to work, completing any commissions for the morning etc. The next phase was fun, after midnight things shift. the world is quieter, a different creativity kicks in, little ideas drowned out by daily noise can be heard. I'd have fairly loose thoughts, lay on the bed and just scribble lots of things, much more free, once it was about 50 little drawings on the idea of batman... doing the shopping, getting a bat signal from his mum, anything, nonsense things, but this was a fertile period, lots of material to develop in those noisy daytime moments. Sometimes I'd just read for a couple of hours. Eventually enough was enough and i'd sleep, always to music, always. It would be about 2am-3am.

...Things change when you live with someone and have kids! You no longer decide when you do things, the World decides for you. Kids don't sleep in until 11am, school likes them there on time. I'm lucky, Jakki sorts most of the morning out, i just have to round them up and take them to school, but it's still not 10.30am! Anyway, i then dash down to the studio, get in and check emails (and blog, shhhh). Then i frantically work my way through my workload, scoffing anything that i've grabbed from home, leftover from day before. Still at my mac, but i'll use the face stuffing time to catch up on other folks blogs, or look over any new/interesting websites. Then crack on, knowing i have to wrap things up by around 2.30pm to walk back up the hill and pick the boys up from school (when work piles up i put them in stay and play and pick them up at 6pm, normally Wed/Thurs when jakki works late). I'll then continue with any drawing etc at home, before making dinner for everyone (2 kids that like less and less and a grown up that can't smell or taste, sheer joy!) Then it's catching up or checking/dealing with late-in-the-day emails, or dealing with any american jobs on a different time zone... or I'll be hanging with the kids. Now it's kids bedtime, and they don't do any of it willingly. It's getting later and i'm knackered. I grab a coffee and we stare at the TV, me wondering why I'm not upstaris making pots, or if I'm really busy with work I will be sitting working, trying to catch up! Catch up!... can't keep up.

Do you see my problem? can you see how far my natural Circadian Rhythm has gone adrift! we're supposed to listen to what our bodies tell us, but mine is being drowned out ; )

I remember reading this in an interview with Dave McKean and he explained his working day and it wasn't far off mine, well... how it was! 

My working day is usually: 10-ish, wake up. 10-11-ish, check email, read the post, check the news (BBC website), read The Week (if it’s Friday) or Time (if it’s Saturday). 11-12-ish, potter in studio, have a crumpet and a banana. 12-1 p.m.-ish, get dressed, start work. 1-3 p.m., lunch. 4 p.m.-2 a.m., work (occasional breaks to eat, drink, talk, answer phone, reply to email, play musical instruments – the worse a job is going, the more breaks I take, and therefore the longer the bad job lasts; it’s a depressing equation). 2 a.m.-4 a.m., watch a film or read current book. - Dave McKean

It's definitely not 9-5, imagine the real work capacity that is being lost, making people sit at their desks 9-5, even if it's not producing much 'actual' work.


  1. I'm pretty flexible with my schedule, but I've never had any problems with mornings - I even prefer them most of the time. I say that, but I actually really like evenings and late at night as well, which basically means I like getting up early and staying up late. The solution: naps. Unfortunately, the world doesn't really cooperate with that at the moment, but I've read about people living more primitive lives, even today, and sleep just occurs when you get sleepy, not according to the clock on the wall and the requirements in your work contract.

    We need a revolution. At the very least, we need siestas.

  2. You're dead right there Brandon. Funnily enough i've just been reading about naps, and siestas in the How To Be Idle Book. He's all up for bringing them back...without the guilt of slacking off! they seem to have been pretty natural to man until the Industrial Revolution kicked in and the slave drivers demanded we work all hours for them.
    Even Churchill liked a nap. others who stated that they only needed 3-4 hours sleep a night had multiple naps in the day. This is the whole thing, we need to slow it down a bit and take control of our own lives and schedules. The work will still get done, we'll still earn a living (and we can cut the cost of that and dependency on others/Big business) A quiet revolution, where they don't realise we've taken control back from them ; )