When it comes to increasing productivity, one of the most important things to recognize is when (and where) you work best. Of course since this is a writing blog, I’m talking primarily about writing, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it could be applied to other things, as well.
I’ve read a lot about finding that “sweet spot” of the day when the writing comes easier. They often talk about how it’s different for everyone—how one writer may pound out a few thousand words before bed and another first thing in the morning. They talk about finding that place where you can just slip into your writing—be it a library, a café, an office, outside on the deck, etc.
What they don’t usually talk about is how it can change.
You see, in my experience anyway, you have to be flexible when settling into you zone, because after a while it might not feel right anymore.
A few years ago, my sweet spot was in the early afternoon, between one and three. I worked best in at the kitchen table with a pair of headphones and iTunes running endlessly. For reasons I will never know, wearing a pair of headphones made it easier for me to shut everything else out (even when there was little noise distraction to worry about). I could write for hours like that.
But then it changed. It wasn’t drastic—I probably could’ve continued in that spot if I really pushed myself to, but it didn’t feel as easy. Everything felt too routine, and I had trouble focusing.
Then one morning, I woke up earlier than usual and couldn’t fall back to sleep, so I dragged myself to my computer and checked Twitter (because that’s what EVERYONE does right? Right? Ok, moving on). There was a #wordmongering session about to start in a few minutes and I figured, why not? and jumped in.
Then something happened. The writing flowed. By noon I’d written well over my 1,500-word quota. I felt energized. I’d already completed my writing goal and I had an entire day ahead of me. I was proud of myself. I was happy.
I wanted to do it again.
So now I write in the morning. I still often use headphones (don’t ask why, I can’t explain it myself) and my writing goals haven’t changed, but the writing comes easier again. Not only that, but when I do reach my goal (and I don’t often stop until I do), I feel great for the rest of the day.
So, my fellow writers, moral of the story is sometimes, your zone changes. If your writing starts to feel stale during that “sweet spot” of the day, maybe you need to change things up a little. If you usually write in the morning, maybe you need to try after lunch. If you usually write at night and lately the words have been about as easy as pulling out your own teeth with only a tissue in hand, maybe you should give it a try earlier in the day.
When the routine stops working, try new things. You never know when you’ll find a zone that works even better for you than it did before.
When (and where) is your zone? Has it ever changed?