Photo Credit: Jay Wennington

What it’s like to work from 9pm-5am

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I never enjoyed waking up to traffic, followed by a forced bite of a granola bar.

It’d make me feel antsy at work. Half-drained. On top of that, I’d have to put up with obnoxious colleagues who share the same cramped desk I have, with a cheap pair of $20 headphones that can’t block a whisper.

So with all that, how could I possibly focus and get some work done?

Wouldn’t that hurt my performance AND the company’s performance if I’m constantly wasting time battling through distractions and fatigue from the strict hours of 9am-5pm?

It was at that point when I made the 3rd biggest decision of my life.
(Note: Here’s my 1st and 2nd biggest decision, in case you’re wondering.)

I left the office and jumped on a plane to Southeast Asia, working on my own schedule from 9pm to 5am.

Here’s what it’s like.

1. Any mentally-draining task takes you hours instead of days to do.

I write, but I write slow. A 1,000 word draft, which normally takes me 3 days to complete, is done in 4 hours.

The reason why I can speed up my performance by 18x is because I keep my mind focused in a very quiet, but slightly dim area (bright lights usually distract me). Usually this is the time when everyone either unwinds down or is already asleep.

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt

There’re no distractions. Nobody slapping me on the back to say “what’s up?!”

Just me and my work.

2. You feel an urge to learn.

After accomplishing more than I expect in one day, I feel this odd surge of energy. To learn. Not about work per se, but on little things I can do to improve my personal life — like trying out different hairstyles or finding a cleaner email app.

So far, I’ve learned how to fill in my short, sparse eyebrows.

How to plank the right way.

How to earn money when buying things online. 
(Honey saves me a couple bucks each time!)

I’m not sure what the science is behind this, but I always feel like I gotta keep my winning streak up.

3. You get the munchies after 3am.

I’m not gonna lie. Hunger hits pretty hard in the middle of the night when you’re by yourself, working.

Usually I’d feel my stomach gnaw at itself after 3am. Mainly because I finish eating at 8pm and don’t eat anything else for the rest of the night until 5am when I go to bed. Psss, that’s 9 hours without food!

But after a week of adjusting to this nightly schedule, I got used to not feeling hungry after dinner. And instead was more focused on getting things done.

4. You stop paying attention to social media.

…because no one else is awake to post photos, videos and content at this time.

5. You’re actually less stressed.

When there’s less commotions around you plus the dimmed lights, you naturally feel less stressed. And since you’re getting more tasks done in just a few hours, you have more time for yourself, for your friends and for your family.

One productivity hack I always go back to is working in a candlelit room, with some classical or meditation music playing in the background. I learned that it not only lowers my stress level, but it also cranks up my creative side.

Last but not least…

Pulling a night schedule has given me more balance in my life than working at my 9–5 job.

I’d start the day at 1pm with a good workout, followed by a relaxing lunch. Then unwind down with some YouTube videos or Korean drama in the afternoon. That way, my mind is fully relaxed before I start hustling the night away.

Note: I don’t work all 8 hours. I usually take an hour break every 2–3 hours. 🙂

I’m Tiffany Sun, and I write on

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