• I’ve been doing a lot of writing working on the new Getting Dressed Guides lately and it’s reminded me of some things I’ve learned that I want to share with you.

    When I was a kid, and in my early working life too, it seemed that people who got up early were doing the right thing and us lie-a-beds were “lazy”. It didn’t matter if you worked late into the night. If you weren’t bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 8am, you were a slacker.

    In the final years that I worked for someone else, I began to realize how untrue this was. Not only was there research showing that different people naturally worked better at different times of the day, but some companies were starting to implement “flex time” that took advantage of people’s most productive times.

    Working for myself, I haven’t set an alarm in over 12 years. The strange thing is that I changed from a night owl to an early bird sometime in my early 30s. I wonder if it was just that I wasn’t being forced to get up early anymore. I mean, these days, I am usually the one who wakes up my dogs!

    Every time I spend a lot of time writing (as opposed to pattern drafting or researching or marketing or doing the books), I am reminded of the importance of knowing your productive times of day.

    I write okay in the mornings. Usually if I write in the morning, it’s because I woke up with an idea, and I come downstairs and write it down. But if I have to write something from scratch, daytime is not my time. From noon until 4pm, I might as well be unconscious. I am that unproductive with writing. But once the clock hits 6pm, you cannot stop me.

    This has nothing to do with creativity. Writing pattern instructions is not a very creative thing. You outline the process step by step and that’s about all there is to it. But I have worked all day on a set of instructions and finished maybe one single page. Then the clock will strike 6:00 and I will do the other five pages of instructions before 7pm. AND I will go back and rewrite the page I wrote before 6pm because it is usually awful.

    It’s weird. Every time I return to write after time doing other things, I forget this fact about myself. Every single time I try to force myself to write during the afternoon because I want to finish things. And every single time, I slog and slog and slog until 6pm and then it’s like someone took off the emergency break and suddenly I’m racing downhill with my hair on fire.

    There are a lot of things I’ve learned by working for myself all these years. But one of the most important things is: KNOW THYSELF. Don’t be who you think you’re supposed to be. Don’t try to fit into the role of whatever you imagine you have to do to be successful. Know what you like and what you hate. Know what you avoid and what you love. Know your productive times of day.

    Fighting this knowledge just because someone else thinks you should be up with the chickens is about as pointless as hen’s teeth.