The best time to write

One of the ideas writers and content creators debate about is the best time to write. In fact, stop reading this and try Googling, “best time to write” and you’ll get over 3 billion hits! And almost every debate falls in the early morning, late at night, or anytime camp. I’ll be honest, no matter what your preference is everything eventually boils down to context.

And I’m writing this because this has been on top of my mind for the past several days. I used to write in the mornings and it worked great, until it stopped working. As a professional, there are times you don’t have enough control over some of your projects or priorities and before you know it, you’re working late into the night and at times well into the wee hours of the mornings. Forget about getting up early, clocking in a solid 5-hours of sleep becomes a massive deal!

As I mentioned, context plays an important role in decision-making. For me physical training is just as important as writing, and when my world crashes down on me due to an erratic schedule, I can’t help but think of trade-offs. Because if I try to write first thing in the morning, there’s no time train or and if I try to train first, there’s no time for anything else!

The perfect regime that I follow is when I’m travelling for work. Yes, I know, it’s not an ideal situation for most people but works beautifully for me. The family’s away (as in I don’t have to take care of the kids, which takes a significant chunk away from my morning routine these days) and there’s just enough time to focus on work, writing, and physical training.

But I digress, back in the not-so-ideal world, do I have to let these two decision clash with each other every single day? Not worth the headache. So, I figured there must be a middle way. And guess, what? There is. Just that it doesn’t work for all but as long as it’s good enough for me, I’m happy. Here’s what I do:

  1. Create a todo list following the Ivy Lee method with a twist — focusing on six things only spanning my areas of focus. There are additional categories for reading, study, leisure, and family. But my main objective is to identify the most important task (or the ONE thing) for that particular day and tackle it first.
  2. Writing after comes second. And everything else afterwards…

Where do I fit my trainings? These days I find evenings much better although I prefer to train in the mornings. First thing after waking up. Post that, I spend time with family, take care of the kids, and then either get packing for office or work from home.

It’s a nice middle of the road strategy, given my situation and constraints. Context matters. There’s not general rule that works for everyone. Also, when it comes to writing, I think the more flexible you are, the better. What I mean by that is as writers, we have to stay to write. There’s no perfect time or place to do so. Waiting for that is a recipe for disaster and the surest way to not get any thing done.

So, essentially, there’s no such thing as the best time to write. Everything depends on your personal context. The important bit is to understand and accept that there’s no perfect time to write. You need to block out a chunk of your time and just crank it out. As with most aspects of our lives, it requires discipline but once you get used to it, there’s no looking back.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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