It’s winter in Europe again. The place is more North than people think – to give you an intuition, Madrid is the same latitude as NYC. Most major European cities are significantly more North than Madrid, giving you as little as 4-5 hours of sunlight in the winter months.
Every year we repeat the idiotic ritual of switching our clocks back by one hour. While sleeping one hour longer is a genuinely pleasant prospect, the change is disruptive to your circadian clock. Yeah, the mornings are brighter but you’ll end up leaving your office at 5pm in complete darkness. Not ideal. The switch to winter time is generally unpopular with the European crowd, a fact that continues to be ignored by policymakers.
Here is a hack that I’ve tried for 2-3 years now, a system called “European Winter Schedule”. It’s designed to essentially ignore the time change and maximize your daylight leisure time. It’s a tweak around the 9-to-5 working time.
Start the day EARLY, with your first slot of work between 8am–noon. You’ll find less disruption for the first hour, while people rock up. You’ll get ahead with work, especially tasks that require focus.
Then comes then comes the best part: a JUMBO lunch break 12pm–2pm, maybe longer. Get lunch, get out, meet friends, get some sun, go for a run, do groceries. Do whatever, as long as you’ll get some of that daylight it’ll be worth it.
After lunch, back in the trenches for another 4 hours: 2pm–6pm. It’s like a reset after taking a large break and will go so fast. Chances are you’ll be seen as more hard-working: people pay attention to silly things like when people leave, so despite chilling more, you’ll get your boss to love you more.
European Winter Schedule is my go-to move for the winter months. Admittedly it works best without kids, and with a job that allows you to go remote. It also works better outside the US where you’re expected to grid your life away.