Here is my own experience with being a “morning person”
I’ve always been an “owl”. I would stay up late, and a lot of my productive time would fall on the late evenings — 8pm till midnight or later. Couple of years ago, after reading yet another productivity book, I have conducted an experiment about getting up early. (Even before that I had to wake up pretty early, because of work, but most of the time I would’ve tried to sleep until 8am and then run out of house in 15–20 minutes.)
So I have changed my schedule to wake up at 6, do some exercise, take a shower and try to do something. At the beginning it was difficult, because it was a norm for me to go to bed at ~2am, but was able to change that too. For the next few weeks I’ve observed how my productivity quickly deteriorated.
Most of the morning time I was spending in an “autopilot” mode: doing things, but unable to think. Since my work required a lot of thought (S/W dev+PM), I was pretty much useless until 11am. After 11 I will start to come to my senses and at about 3–4pm I will get to the reasonable productivity levels. After that I had a choice either to stop working and go home early, or sacrifice evening time and work.
Evenings at home were usually spent mostly on various chores or eating. By midnight I had to be in bed to get some sleep, so almost nothing useful was done either. With this, instead of getting a decent workday, I was getting just 2–3 productive hours.
After that experiment (and after a conversation with my manager) I have changed my schedule: I would wake up at around 8am, have a nice slow morning, take a 1 hour walk to the office, where I arrive at around 10am. Spend an hour doing e-mails and other not thought-intensive work, and will move into full-throttle performance. By the time I leave (around 7pm), I usually got a lot of stuff done. And I had 2–3 hours to study or do something useful at home between 11 pm and 1–2 am. And was also getting 6–7 hours of sleep, which is enough for me.
One more trick that I’m using is a Sleep Cycle application, which wakes me up much better than a regular time-fixed alarm clock.
P.S. Surely, I’m not a famous, rich or influential person, but I really enjoy my life, so it is a big question — who is more “successful” here. ;)
P.P.S. One more useful discovery: the worst enemy of concentration and high performance for me is a background noise which contains traces of meaning. Such as TV/video, chatter, songs in the language I understand. Those things literally double the time required to do something. So, when I’m working I switched to one of the three: silence, music without words, or songs in the language I don’t understand.