Night Vision

Best time of the day to be creative
(Image source)

People work better in the morning – tell that to Neil Young. When he was working on the critically acclaimed Tonight’s The Night album back in 1973, Neil and the band would turn up at the recording studio in the early evening, knock back a few beers, shoot some pool and then, at around midnight, finally go to work. This nocturnal routine continued for a month, culminating in an album that, for my money, is one of his finest.

He isn’t the only successful musician to shy away from the morning hours when it comes to getting creative. Yet, in other creative industries, there’s a stigma attached to those who aren’t ‘morning people’. I’ve heard some – myself included – labelled ‘lazy arses’ because they’re not full of beans in a 9am meeting. The idea we’re all better in the morning just isn’t true. Sometimes, it’s the complete opposite. Science even backs this up.

Towards the end of the day, your frontal cortex – the smart part of the brain that helps you stay focussed and filter out distractions – starts to shut down. In light of this, your brain ends up running wild, developing ideas and paths of thinking you wouldn’t normally follow, resulting in new and unexpected answers to problems.

When I think of my best work, the ideas have popped out of my head at all times of the day – on the way home from work, evenings in pubs, even the middle of the night.

Matt Gooden, ECD at Who What Why recently said on Matt Follows’ splendid podcast Pressure Proof Creative that he doesn’t care what time his Creatives come into work as long as they show up to reviews and deliver the goods.

So, as the Covid lockdown has opened bosses’ eyes to becoming more flexible regarding where we work, perhaps we should also extend that flexibility to what time of the day we work.

Not much footage from this era but I did unearth Neil singing Mellow My Mind in Japan of all places from ’76. Bear with, the quality does get better after a few seconds🙂


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