How to Find Your Most Productive Hours (and what to do then)

ProductivityWhether you’re a full time writer, or it is something you do in addition to a ‘traditional’ job, it is important to figure out when you are the most productive.  As you undoubtedly know, some people are ‘morning people’ and some ‘night people’ but that might not always be the same thing as your most productive time of the day.

As a writer, it is important to try to figure out when you are able to get the most amount of work done every day.  In addition, the hour(s) where you are most productive will almost always be the hours where you can produce the highest quality work.  The big question is how to figure out what hours of the day are best for you.

Discovering Your Top Productivity Hours

I’m no expert in efficiency or anything like that, but I’ve read about this topic quite a bit and come up with some ideas on how to determine your peak hours of productivity.  Read through the following points, and also share any other tips on this that you have come up with.

  • Look at Your Past Work – One of the best ways to figure out what hours you’re most productive is to look back and figure out when you have gotten the most done in the past.  An easy way to do this is to pull up a folder on your computer where you save your work (or in your content management system if you only write online).  Sort everything by the time it was saved, and you’ll be able to quickly go through and see where you’ve done the most work.

    Of course, this isn’t 100% accurate, since you may have had to work at specific hours for one reason or another, but if you notice that you happen to save a lot of articles between 10AM and Noon, for example, this is a great indicator that this is when you are the most productive.

  • Track Your Productivity – Another option is to start tracking when you feel the most productive going forward.  Every time you sit down to do work, make a note of the time of the day.  If you’re feeling very productive and get a lot done, rate that as 5 star time.  If you’re dragging through and just forcing yourself to get anything done (or worse, staring at a blank computer screen) rank that as a 1 star.   Obviously, in between would be 2, 3 or 4 stars.

    Once you’ve done this for a few weeks, go back and make a chart on where you found the most 4 and 5 star hours.  This is a good indication that these are your peak performance times. Finding your least productive times can also be very valuable, so make a note of these times as well.

  • Experiment – Something else that you should do is try experiment with working at unusual times of the day.  If you think of yourself as a night owl, consider waking up at 5AM for a couple days and see if you are productive.  If you normally work from 9-5, for example, consider working late at night.  This flexibility is one of the best things about being a writer, so take advantage of it.  You might be surprised at where your ideal productive hours fall.

Once you Know…Now what?

Once you’ve figured out what your peak performance hours (and least productive hours) fall, you need to start tailoring your work around that information.   You want to take care of your most important work during your most productive hours (obviously).  With this in mind, schedule all other tasks around these hours.  Even if you have to break them up a bit, it is best to use your peak performance hours only for the most productive things.

Another thing you can do is find your least important (or most dreaded) tasks, and schedule them during your least productive work hours.  Even if it takes you longer than it should to get done, at least you’re combining your least productive hours with your least important tasks.

Each person is different, and will need to make a schedule that works best for his or her business.  Don’t just leave these things to chance.  Take some time and figure out how you can increase your production and success by making your schedule around your most productive hours.

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  1. says

    Thanks for this Michael. I try to work when I’m most productive, which used to be in the evenings. But since having a baby last year, I’ve had to force myself to learn to be more productive at other times. Now my evenings are spent with her for bath time, reading, playing and bedtime. Instead, I get a short amount of time at night, but now I really excel in the morning. I used to not be a morning person, but if you get into a habit of getting up early and feeling good about it, anyone can do it.
    Misty Spears recently posted…How to Publish a Book Using the Kindle Platform – Part 5: Exporting Your Book Into the Kindle FormatMy Profile

    • says

      Checking email and social media kills me too. I have been trying to cut back on that type of thing as it is so easy to sink hours into it without getting anything real done.

      Thanks for stopping on my site!


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