03 November 2011

What’s My Best Time of Day?

Since I find myself quite suddenly in my last year of college, I now realise that I have access to something unique and oddly exciting: statistics about my college career. I decided to take a look at my grade data for the past few years, and see if I couldn’t discern a few things:

  1. How much did my inability to get up early affect my grades?
  2. What are the hours at which I am most capable of productive work?
  3. How much does what I’m learning affect my grades?
  4. In what seasons am I most productive?
  5. What is the best amount of work per week for me?

The results were really interesting. First, I grouped classes by the time the class started, and calculated the average weighted GPA (0.0–4.0) for each group. The chart below shows that I am neither a morning nor an evening person—midday and midafternoon are when I do my best work, but right after lunch, I’m apparently just as useless as in the morning.


Next, I grouped classes by my subjective impression of how much I learned. This was less interesting: like most people, I do best when I’m learning something, but also fine when the work is easy.


Then I discovered something quite counter to my expectations. When I grouped my grades by season of the year, I had thought winter would be my worst quarter, because of the stress and lack of sunlight. It turns out that my grades tell a different story:


I don’t know why this is, but my hunch was that I work better under stress. Autumn and spring are my favourite seasons, when I feel happiest. To test this hypothesis from a different angle, I grouped quarters by number of hours per week of class time.


Apparently, when given a sane amount of work, I do fine. Past a certain point I can’t keep up, but then, beyond that threshold of stress, my performance improves significantly. Really weird stuff.

I hope to be able to apply this information to make my life easier and perhaps get more things done. If you can obtain hard data about your work habits, you can derive a surprising amount of useful information about how you can improve them. That in turn will make it easier for you to be productive. Try it—you’ll like it.