Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 11 of 2016 - Early Bird or Night Owl - Your Internal Clock

Are you an early riser or a night owl ?

Better late than never.... ...Geoffery Chaucer - 1386
Early Bird catches the worm... John Ray - 1670
4AM ...If I am ever up that early, its because I'm up that late.... Janet Smith - 2016
Early to bed, early to rise, make a man happy, healthy and wise.... Benjamin Franklin - 1735

I am a night owl better known as an “owl” by researchers. A morning person or early bird is known as a “lark”. With a little research today, I have found that they indeed believe that “our personal biological clocks are already wound at birth. Genetics establishes a persons “chronotype” which is what determines when your body is awake, when you perform at your best and when you need to sleep.

I am sure that you have probably noticed the “chronotypes” of your family members and how these habits translate into their daytime and nighttime habits. My Mom was a owl. She would always stayed up to watch Johnny Carson. She was the one who was up when I came home at 5 minutes passed eleven when my curfew was at eleven. She was the free spirit. Her schedule was mandated by her 6 children. When we were kids, Dad (the “lark” of our family) would get up early on Sunday and take the 4 oldest girls to Sunday school. Since we only had one car, a Ford Falcon station wagon, he would return to get Mom and the boys. Invariably Mom would have one more thing to do or get one more thing before heading out the door for church. We always sat in the back of the church so she could slip into the pew as she arrived in the 3rd or 4th verse of the first hymn.

Dad on the other hand was precise, on time and had a busy schedule. He was always ready and early for work whether he was working for Bill Mitzelfield or when he was his own boss. He open the doors of the store at 9:00 and locked the door after the last customer at closing time. When he ran the Ben Franklin in Imlay City, he would come home for lunch and as Mom scurried around to make him a sandwich, he would take a 20 minute cat nap. Precisely 20 minutes later, he would be awake eating his sandwich feeling refreshed and alert. I was always amazed. In the evening after dinner, if he had no meetings, he would find an odd job to do to keep himself busy. If he sat in the Lazyboy too long he would be out for the night.
When I was a teenager, I preferred to do my homework late. Often I worked after school at the store for Dad. In the evening, I wanted to be with my friends or my boy friend. Sometimes I would wake up in the morning with my alarm blaring, fully dressed in yesterdays clothes and realize I had fallen asleep again while studying. I hated alarm clocks and still do!

Years later as a new young mother, I often had my sewing machine running until the wee hours of the morning making baby clothes for my sons. Later when I decided it was time to go to work, I went to school to become a Computer Technician. Sounded like a good idea to me. You worked when things were broken. No kidding...The bad thing was the training program was from 5 AM until Noon in Southfield. It was tough making this Owl go to bed at the same time as my kids in order to get up at 3:45 AM to drive to Southfield. I thought I could do it because the course was only 9 months long. I completed it in 6 months...thinking maybe I could get thru it sooner only to find out I had to be in school a precise number of hours, 1440 hours in order to get my certificate. So I took every additional course that were available and I tutored other students so I got my hours in!

Early in my career, it really was “you only worked when a piece of equipment was broken”. I was amazed by that. You did your preventative maintenance and you completed your service calls and then it was up to you to find something to do. One day I wandered into my bosses office, and told him (Willard Zerbe) that I was bored...He shock his head and said, “ I tell employees once, go find something to do or I'll make some work for you... “ so I went to the mall and never felt guilty after that.

1986 Printer Class in Louisville, Colorado
As a FE or Field Service Engineer for StorageTek, there were no time clock. You never had a place that you HAD to be at a certain time. I visited my account after I got my kids to school, usually around 8:30 or 9 AM. I planned my work day, I knew what needed to be done and I did it. Some days you worked all day, some days you worked into the night, some days you were done by noon and at the pool or the mall!

STK Field Service Organization in Phoenix, Arizona
When my primary account was Uhaul Corporation in Phoenix in the early 1980's my best friend, Ivy Grabowski, lived about 2 miles away in an apartment complex. We would go there everyday for lunch. We would put on our bathing suits and bake in the sun by the pool. If needed , we would go back to work. One day the Operations manager at Uhaul, Ted Demskey, asked me what I did for lunch each day. I thought, that is an odd question but I evaded it, thinking I was pretty smart. Then he went on to say, “well, Jan you come in to work in the morning with your hair done and your make up on and after lunch you come back with no makeup and wet hair so I just wondered...” Ops I got caught so after that I tried to do a little less swimming not that I was doing anything wrong as far as my boss was concerned. …but I had not thought about how it must have looked to my customers.
StorageTek Booth at the 1986 Technical Conference in Las Vegas

This job fit nicely with my Owl personality. On a regular basis I would have to take an “on call” weekly shift. This would mean the possibility of working second shift hours and third shift hours when needed which I usually found easy to do. When I was “on call”, if I got a call after I had already fallen asleep, it was sometimes hard to get me fully awake. I always told the dispatchers that called me, that I would call them back from the other room so as not to wake my husband. Most often I did called them right back. There were a few occasions that I returned to sleep not knowing that I had answered the phone. Eventually the dispatchers could tell when I was having trouble getting awake and would talk to me for a few minutes to wake me up.  This process worked pretty well because by the time I went to the other room and called them back, I was awake enough to take down any information I needed accurately and out the door I went.
Jan Tietz/Smith striking a pose and the Tech Convention in Vegas
Throughout my career with all of my employers in the computer industry, I never punch a time clock. I got to work when I got there and I left work when my day was done usually 8 or 9 hours later. In the later years, I could log back into work from home and work if needed. I could on occasion work the whole day from home if needed. My “on call” became support work that I could usually do remotely from home if it was after hours. While the computer systems that I supported were very reliable, on occasion in the middle of the night a process or system would fail and I had to make sure that it was fixed and running the next morning when day shift started at the manufacturing plant in Genoa.

Today as a retiree, I am still an Owl. My husband is the Lark. He naps on and off throughout the evening and about 11 PM goes off to bed after he turns down the heat. He says, “see you in a couple of hours...” I say, “No, I'll be right along...” And before I know it, it has been a couple of hours. He says that if he did not turn down the heat, I would stay up all night and he is probably right...When I get cool then I go upstairs looking for a warm bed.

So what are you, an Owl or a Lark?



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