S. J. Kelley

Productivity analysis

Well, April didn’t go exactly as planned. Between making a final exam for my students, holding tutorials, giving said exam, and then spending hours and hours marking it for all 225 students, I didn’t get much done on my work in progress. The good news is that since the last time I posted I’ve written something, even if it’s only¬†3500 words. As of now book one stands at 30,861 (and yes, that final word is counted!).

I find it difficult to focus unless I know that I am working at optimal efficiency. It doesn’t escape my notice that if I just spent more time writing, and less time optimizing, that I’d have a lot more words written by now. My problem is that I just can’t do anything halfway; when I want to analyze something, I analyze it.

And so, with a little bit of excitement, but also knowing that the following may be taken as evidence of my idiosyncrasies, I present to you my productivity analysis:Productivity analysis

Isn’t it beautiful in its bland grayness? Bear with me.

If you have been reading this blog (I can’t imagine why you would be, but lets pretend), you will note that I track an awful lot of things. The above chart was made from four months of tracking data. Every time I sat down to write, I recorded the time of day, how I was feeling (in the zone, just okay, tired, or groggy), and my average words per hour, amongst other things.

Why you may ask? To be honest, I’ve read a lot about people being productive in the morning, but my angry, murder-esque tendencies tend to come out at that time of day, when I am loath to meet the day star. In the nighttime, I am a zombie waiting to breathe my final breath before falling into my pillows. In short, the ends of my days are miserable no matter which one I choose, but when you have a day job and children, that’s all you’ve got to work with. So if I’m going to be miserable, I damn well want to be efficiently and optimally miserable.

The bars above indicate my writing speed, using the axis on the left, while the line represents my level of cognitive unfuzziness, represented by the axis on the right. I thought I’d see more of a correlation between writing speed and when I thought I was “in the zone,” but this doesn’t seem to be the case. I think my writing output has less to do with how awake I’m feeling, and more to do with how much creative juice I have left to give.

My two options are really only the 4:30-6:30 am time slot, or the 8:30-10:30 pm timeslot. The cognitive unfuzziness levels of these timeslots are similar (63% vs. 67%), but the output is drastically different — 407 wph vs. 255 wph. Needless to say, I am not pleased with these results, but I’m glad I wasted a few hours looking into it, because I was just about to commit to staying up late instead of getting up early.

So there you have it, a night owl whose efficiency patterns follow those of the lark. But the data doesn’t lie, and I’m sure as hell not going to collect another four months of it looking for a different answer.

How will I get out of bed, and not fall to the trap of going back to sleep after the one-week honeymoon period runs out? Well, my husband has a very bright halogen work lamp, and I have a programmable outlet timer. Those two are about to get acquainted.

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