We, as human beings, are animals of habit. We easily fall into routines, and even more easily fall into spirals of motivation, depression, angst or cheer.
Understanding the way our body and our mind process these habits, our patterns, is vital to get the best out of our day, our week or, in the end, our life.
I’m expecting my first son in about 10 weeks. This gets me thinking again and again about how I will organize my time to accommodate everything I want to accomplish. From spending the maximum possible quality time with my kid and my family, to maintaining a good productivity at work, up to keeping up with some ongoing side projects.
Hence, I’m trying to find my current productivity pattern. My goal is to uncover the best places to put everything I want to do during a regular week. Weekends are off-limits as they can be insanely productive or spent binge watching some TV show. Understanding my pattern will allow me (I hope) to have my time better organised, move harder tasks to when I feel productive and change the more interesting activities to when I feel less motivated.
I try to organize my daily schedule in three stages: morning, afternoon and evening. At each “stage” I try to do something that I consider to be useful. This can be writing, programming, reading or planning something. I usually feel energised in the morning and after dinner. Strangely, afternoons are the time of day when I find it harder to focus and work continuously.
With my current weekly schedule, I know that mondays are the more productive days, where I feel like I can do anything (I’m writing this on a monday evening, after a short birthday party, at 1am). Thursdays are the exact opposite, I regularly feel less energised and it’s much harder to “get in the zone” to let things flow… Tuesdays are similar to mondays with a slight motivation reduction, specially after dinner. Wednesdays are just like fridays, with a slow start and an active ending.
After this quick analysis, we can conclude that, in my work pattern, the beginning of the week is far more productive than the end of the week. I reckon it’s an almost linear productivity drop.
Now, two options arise to change this and improve this pattern for improved productivity.
In Option 1, I have to put the most interesting tasks in the thursday morning slot. And move the “boring” stuff to mondays. Herein lies a major challenge. How to accomplish this? In theory, it should be as easy as reorganising a calendar. However, in practice, there are deeper complications and miscellaneous additional variables in our patterns. How can we pick what tasks come our way during the week?…
In Option 2, I have to re-arrange my schedule to introduce a “break day” on wednesdays. Mondays are probably more productive because I can rest properly during the weekend. Perhaps clearing the entire wednesday afternoon will allow me to recover from the monday and tuesday burnout. Obviously, this is a less feasible option. Having a mini-weekend in the middle of the week sounds completely out-of-place in 40 hour/week labour routines.
So… I’ll go for option 1. I plan to start a test run next week and try to keep it running for the upcoming weeks, switching mondays to thursdays and leaving the other days untouched.
Hopefully I will improve my current productivity pattern. If not, at least this quick experience taught me how I roll, what’s my pattern.