This post is about personal productivity and harnessing the creative, physical, and emotional cycles we all supposedly have called biorhythms. While my example is for blogging, the tips here apply to pretty much any endeavour. [This post was orignally written in early Dec/06 but not posted until Jan/07.]
I’ve been running a cool little WordPress plugin, SparkStats, on my private article bank website. The blog is on a subdomain that’s running WordPress 2.0x and is a password-protected storehouse for all articles that I’ve written for clients. It originally included some of my own blogs’ articles, but hasn’t for a few months. The reason I’m running SparkStats is to show myself my writing productivity. The plugin displays a little bar graph showing relative number of posts per day for the past 30 or so days.
Now that I’ve stopped faking the the post times (purely for aesthetic record-keeping reasons), and have let weekday posts slide into the weekend, I’m noticing a very interesting phenomenon that supports the concept of biorhythms or individual cycles of creativity, emotion, physical strength, etc. While I have a particular daily quota of posts that I “must” write for clients, I have been slipping a bit in the past few weeks – something that unfortunately happens to me in October-February, as part of SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder), also called the screaming blue meanies by some of us Canucks (Canadians).
As the image somewhere above shows, what I’m seeing, under natural posting conditions, is that the graph of my daily posting is nearly undulating on a sine curve basis, as is typical for biorhythms. That is, under natural conditions, if you only wrote and posted whatever you could handle each day, without forcing things, you’d probably see consistent up and down sine curves.
So then how do you handle problogging? I’ll tell you right off that for me, writing is a lot harder to do as a day-to-day career than computer programming. The latter I’ve done for nearly 30 years. While I’ve been writing (at least technical manuals) for over 20, I’ve never done day-to-day as a freelance career where creativity has to be available on demand. Entertaining, informative writing is not as formulaic as a piece of code that harnesses a database and specific data structures.
It’s especially not easy. Writing as a career takes discipline. One way around the cycles is to harness your cycles. Write extra “evergreen” posts when you’re at a creative and/or emotional high. Write news-y summary posts on the day of events. There are three biorhythm cycles, so strength might factor in as well. At my best, I’ve hit 100+ posts (including my e-paintings) in a week and believe that when I become a more efficient blogger, I can exceed that. (But my best months for writing are usually June-August, and sometimes January. That’s not to say I can’t produce in other months, but these are my most productive.)
Another method, if appropriate, is to change your blogging style. The truth is, most of my blogging “clients” run summary sites. But I try to add as much value as I can to what I write, usually by writing about a product or service in my own words, then hyperlinking to 2-4 articles. I also write the occasional fully original piece, often a case study, as well as some commentary articles.
Balance is the key to utilizing your creative cycles. Using a variety of post types allows you to pick, during productive down times, the ones that are easiest for you at the time, without surprising the readers. If you just find it within you to write on a given day, try some mindmapping or photography, both of which may spark your visual creativity.
These tips also apply to any type of research, writing or creative work. If you are someone that works with visual media, say photographs or paintings, try changing what you are doing – maybe try writing for a while. Harnessing your biocycles effectively means getting what you can done, and postponing what you cannot, until you can spark some inspiration.