Take a moment to answer the following questions in relation to the time you spend writing:
Are you most productive with music, or without?
Do you write better in a quiet room by yourself, or in a public area (such as a coffee shop) with white noise?
What length of time is ideal for you to remain focused on a single project without a break? 30 minutes? 1 hour? 2 hours? 8 hours?
In one writing hour, how many times do you typically interrupt yourself to check email, check social media, answer the phone or do unrelated tasks?
Is your creative energy at its peak in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
You probably have a general idea of the answers to these questions, but if you’re like most people, you don’t really know for sure — you’re guessing based on years of experience. However, your estimates could be off (as you know if you’ve ever tried keeping track of your bank account in your head rather than actually tracking your expenditures). If you haven’t taken the time to track and analyze your productivity, I recommend you consider it. There’s a whole new wave of technologies known as “auto-analytics” designed to help you do this.
To start, choose a program such as Rescue Time that tracks your time at the computer. Plan to use it for a couple of weeks, sticking to your usual writing routine, trying not to change much. Of course, knowing you’re being tracked will automatically change your behavior to some extent, but as you get used to it, you’ll probably find yourself being less and less aware of it, and behaving more normally.
After the first couple of weeks, you should have some useful information about your work habits and productivity. Then it gets interesting. Based on what you’ve discovered, you may want to try some experiments (one at a time for accurate data). You could change the time of day you write, or change the length of time for each writing block. You could change locations, or try writing with or without music or background noise. The point is to give yourself at least a week with each change, then analyze your results, to get information about your own creativity and productivity cycles.
With solid data in addition to your own instinct, you may be able to tweak your work habits enough to see a real and encouraging change in your output.
If you’ve ever used technology to track and analyze your productivity, how did it work for you? If you haven’t ever done it, does it sound like something that might be helpful?
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