For the past few years I have been keeping track of all sorts of things in a Google spreadsheet, including every TV show, movie, book, video game, and recipe I consume. For the past 6 months I have been adding to a new productivity tab:
There are daily goals that I wish to accomplish, and I receive points every time I complete them. These points get tallied across the week, and if I fail to meet a minimum weekly cutoff (35 points), then my most frugal friend tells me I am a lazy POS and I am required to venmo him 10 bucks (has happened 4 times, he very much encourages this activity). I also have streaks (Don’t Break the Chain technique) to further incentivize maintaining a constant stream of productivity.
Now that I have collected data using this method for the past half a year, perhaps I can learn what factors lead to the most productive days?
Meditation/Gym increases productivity?
On one hand, meditation and going to the gym consume valuable time. On the other hand (esp. considering I tend to do both of these activities in the morning), it may reinvigorate leading to more energy or be a correlation where I tend to do these activities when I have surplus energy.
Results were consistent even when excluding data from weekends.
No matter the cause, this is good evidence in support of living a more healthy lifestyle.
Conclusion: Productivity increases on days involving the gym or meditation.
Waking up early = more productive?
I maintain a fairly consistent sleep schedule, falling asleep around 10:30pm most days. I try to get 7 hours of sleep, waking up at 5:30am. However, I very frequently oversleep. Here I can calculate my wake up times against the amount of points I accrue that day. Perhaps I work much better with 9 hours of sleep (later wake up times), or with 6 hours of sleep (earlier wake up times).
Days when I was not concerned about my productivity were never included in the spreadsheet (e.g., vacations, conferences).
It seems that as long as I wake up before 8am (~9.5 hrs of sleep), productivity remains fairly constant. I somewhat expected that getting too much sleep would lead to less productivity, but I thought that getting less sleep than normal would also be detrimental. Curious, I recreated the same graph given that the y-axis now plotted the next day’s accrued points. The idea is that after sleeping so little, the ramifications might hit me the following day (I also know subjectively that it feels worse to get up earlier in the morning).
There is little data to suggest that sleeping around 6 hours negatively impairs my productivity at all. I also thought that perhaps on days where I sleep little, I also tend to oversleep the following day. On average, however, I slept only 30 minutes more. On the contrary, oversleeping the night before (past 8.5 hours of sleep) seems to be carrying over into the next day’s work. Weirdly enough, moderate oversleeping did not negatively impact the same day’s productivity, but did affect the next day’s productivity.
While these results might suggest that I should aim for 6 hours of sleep a night, it might also suggest a trade-off where more hours in the day at less efficient pace (due to less sleep) totals the same amount of work accomplished.
I also wish that I had more data from sleeping less than say, 5 hours, where detrimental effects might be more obvious. However, I have enough trouble sleeping for a consistent 7 hours a night and not oversleeping.
Conclusion: Productivity unaffected if sleeping anywhere from 6 to 8.5 hours. More than this can impair that day’s productivity as well as the next day’s productivity. Not enough data to observe work from significantly less than 6 hours of sleep.
Do hump-days truly exist?
It certainly seems like the “hump-day” phenomenon is true for me. As well as generally less productive Fridays and weekends. Thursday was my most productive day, perhaps a side effect of getting to take things a little lighter on Wednesdays.
Tracking my productivity every day has certainly been helpful. While the above results are not necessarily compelling, the act of having a friend watch over my productivity every week has certainly caused me to stay more focused on my goals. Being able to look back on a productive week well-spent brings an innate satisfaction that is impossible to attain by simply working hard and not looking back. This method also allows one to prioritize goals that may not otherwise have had any payoff, such as keeping a daily journal.