Work Flow: Find Time That Works for You
I think it’s important, especially for someone in a creative field, to determine when your brain is best at tackling different tasks.
Years of blogging have taught me that I’m best at getting words on screen in the morning. In college, when I put off finishing a tough paper until the last minute (That’s so Raven), I didn’t stay up late the night before to cram it out. Instead, I went to bed before Jeopardy and got up at 3 AM to get writing. Stringing thoughts into words and words into sentences—it just comes easier to me if I tackle it first thing every day.
For most of my adult life, I thought I was just one of those elusive morning people. I’d be up with the chickens to start on an article that needed a great lead. I volunteered to get up at the crack of dawn if an event my team was planning required an early start. Basically, I thought morning time was my jam and I could rule the world if the world happened to need ruling between 7 AM and 11:30.
Learning to Be an All-Day Person
If you’re tuned into the past tense in that last paragraph, you can guess that I’m writing this from a place of more clarity. Just this morning, thinking that I would use my precious morning hours to start on building a personal manifesto through Kristoffer Carter’s The Framework exercise, I sat down to immerse myself in his weighty 74-page manifesto. But I just. couldn’t. do it. I’d start to read, trying to take in these really important things Kristoffer has to say about life integration, and my mind would wander. I’d start to think away from the page, turning my consciousness towards building my own purpose statement.
It was distracting, to say the least. But it was also a great glimpse into how my brain works. I found out one of the best ways to discover your ideal work flow is to try different types of tasks at different times of day.
This trouble I was having with reading made me re-examine my “morning person” perceptions. Here I am, trying to use these precious writing hours to read, and it’s not working for me. My mind kept trying to write. So I sat down to write this blog post instead, and to muse on the best times of the day, for me, to get shit done. Here’s what I found out:
I create in the morning. I absorb in the afternoon.
Morning for me is a time for writing and for thinking up new ideas. Once I figured out, years ago, that I was best at drafting blog posts in the early part of the day, I felt a certain freedom. I stopped trying to crank out an article late at night and left that time open for relaxing and spending time with friends. And now I know if I want to read a novel, or soak up the kind of mind-thick information I was trying to do this morning, I need to do it in the afternoon. How that will pay off, I’m still not sure. But I’m happy to have discovered this little secret to my own personal productivity.
I would encourage anyone in a creative field to try different work at different times a day, paying close attention to what comes easy about those tasks and what becomes a struggle. Once you’ve gotten a good handle on the best time of day to tackle certain projects, I think you’ll find you get a lot more done.