I shouldn’t have left article writing to the last hour of the day. Every time I do that I regret it. I was tired, struggling to concentrate and writing was the last thing my brain wanted to do. I waited all day for this peace and quiet, finished all the household chores, to write this article, and here I was, just wanting to curl up in the bed with a book.
I was not sleepy. In fact, I stayed up for another two hours watching a movie.
I am a night owl. I am supposed to work best at nights.
Yet my brain was categorically saying no to writing.
Why was it so?
I can do editing, diary, and journal writing at night but when it comes to writing fresh content I struggle.
Is there another factor in play other than the time of the day?
Apparently there is and it is called energy.
In psychology, energy is defined as an ability or willingness to engage in cognitive work. Just like physical work needs an optimum energy level, so does mental work. Our Brain needs a lot of fuel (oxygen and glucose) to carry out the mental work. And when these fuel levels get depleted we experience mental fatigue.
The most common symptoms of mental fatigue include mental block, lack of motivation, irritability, and stress eating.
For many people the energy levels are at their peak in the mornings. As they go through the day they steadily burn energy stores as they tackle various tasks. Even mindless tasks consume energy.
Others might experience peaks at mid-mornings, afternoons, evenings, or even at midnight.
Night owl might be able to stay awake late at night but they will only be able to tackle high energy tasks only if their energy is also at the peak at the night time.
We don’t need to practice time management, we need to learn energy management.
Not every hour of the day is same in terms of energy level. Basically we have three energy levels – peak, middle and low.
All those tasks that require high energy input should be done when our energy levels are at their peak. So some of us it first thing in the morning for others it is in the middle of the afternoon.
Writing is high energy-consuming activity. Leaving it for the time when my energy levels were low was the reason I was feeling blocked. The next morning I was able to finish the article within half an hour.
When is our energy level at its peak?
Scientist says it is it’s roughly 2-4 hours after we wake up. Our brain has gone through all the previous day’s information and filed it appropriately. It has plenty of fuel (oxygen and glucose )and it is ready to do the work that requires lots of concentration.
That is the reason most of the writers write in the morning. Maria Popova of Brain Pickings created an interesting visualization depicting the correlation between wake-up times, literary productivity and major awards of 37 writers whose wake-up times were available.
Mason Curry studied the daily rituals of writers for years and wrote about it in his blog. Eventually, he published a book Daily Rituals, in which he has presented the routines and working habits of 161 creative minds, among them – novelists, poets, playwrights, composers, painters, philosophers, and scientists. It is packed with anecdotes about getting up super early, staying up super late, drinking heroic amounts of coffee, taking precisely timed naps and long daily walks, and much more.
So what time of the day is best for writing?
When your energy levels are at their peak. And it is different for different people. Usually, it is 2-4 hours after you wake up.
Create a schedule to maximize those hours and make sure not to waste them on the tasks that can be done when middle or low energy levels.