Through most of last year, I kept a spreadsheet of my writing progress (yeah, I know – you’re surprised, right?). I tracked the dates I wrote and my word count and I’ve discovered some interesting facts about myself.
I have a full time day job and work the usual Monday to Friday with weekends off. My spreadsheets shows:
* I tend to write for four days in a row and then take a day or two off.
* Sunday is always my most productive day.
* Surprisingly, Monday is my most productive evening. (Who ever expects productivity on a Monday?)
* Tuesdays and Fridays are my least productive days.
* On work days, I am more productive if I get up early (5am) to write, rather than trying to write in the evening.
Now that I’m more aware of these habits, I have been taking note of how I feel – mentally and physically – on different days. And, unsurprisingly, my energy levels correlate with my writing habits:
* Mondays I feel fresh and enthusiastic.
* By Tuesday, I am somewhat tired and less enthusiastic. The weekend is a fading memory and Friday’s not yet in sight.
* On Wednesday, energy and optimism is on the rise again.
* By Friday, I am tired and looking forward to the weekend.
* Saturday is often filled with running errands, catching up on neglected housework, and doing all the things I had intended to do during the week.
* Sunday is my last chance to get in some quality writing time before the work week starts again. I push myself to finish the writing I had intended for that week before it’s time to set goals for the next week.
So now that I’m aware of this, how can I make best use of my time? In looking at my writing habits through last year, there is no point pushing myself to write on a Tuesday. I rarely achieve more than 150 words per hour on Tuesday so let’s leave that as an evening to refresh. Clearly, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday are my best options for writing productivity so I should ensure my schedule includes some solid writing time on those days. I should schedule all the other things that need to happen during the week, like housework, walking the dogs and going to the gym, on my non-writing days, thus maximising both my writing time and my energy levels. And obviously I should make more effort to be out of bed at 5am on a work day. Now that the nights are warmer and the sun is rising earlier, this should be easier than it was a few weeks ago.
Take a look at your own writing habits. What do you notice? Is there a particular day or time when you are at your most productive?
I started a spreadsheet in January, too, tracking my writing AND reading for the year (I committed to read a book a week that wasn’t research related…that’s another story). But I’ve only broken down the weeks. Your use of daily comparisons makes so much sense. I intended simply to remind myself how much I actually do complete, versus my spotty memory which says I never write/finish/publish anything…
Thanks for the great ideas!
Cyndi, that’s actually pretty much why I started tracking my writing as well. It was only in looking back over the year as a whole that I realised just how consistent some of these patterns are.