I'm not sure if this counts as the quickest project on this site (a few hours to learn Plotly.js and make these graphs) or the longest (five years to accumulate the data). In either case, I thought this would be a fun exercise to learn something new while getting a rare visual look at the learning process.

As many readers of this site already know, I'm a crossword enthusiast, and I've been doing the NY Times puzzle daily for the last five years. While the Times' puzzle isn't the best or the hardest puzzle that I do, it is the most consistent, which makes it great for seeing improvement over the years. With the help of Matt Dodge's script, I was able to pull down all of my times from the Times, and was off to the data visualization races. Below, you'll find a rolling average of my completion times, as well as my current record, for all seven days of the week.

The observation that most stands out to me is that we continue to get better at things long past the point of noticeable improvement. The most obvious indicator of my crossword ability is the little "Best Time" marker displayed on my NY Times stats page. By that metric (see the orange lines below), I've barely improved at Monday crosswords in the last four years. My current Wednesday best is from almost three years ago! But a deeper dive tells a different story. I was surprised to see that over that same period, I've shaved 20% off my Monday average, and almost 30% off of Wednesdays. And even better, that improvement has been consistent, with my times down across the board from even just a year ago. Here's hoping I can post an update saying the same thing next year!

Lastly, I want to use these stats as a reminder of the value of just Doing The Thing every day. As I start this new solo-development journey, one of the difficulties I expect to deal with is getting lost in the daily drudgery. Launches will be few and far between, and I won't have the machinery of a large company above me to keep me engaged and motivated. In those moments, I hope this will serve as a good reminder of how much you can get done in even just a few minutes a day.

On to the stats!

Update March 21, 2022: I started solving with a keyboard (instead of mobile) shortly after I originally posted this, which has led to a small, but noticeable improvement. I've beaten four of my seven records since, and finally broke 2:30 for Mondays.

I also added a full-week graph below, which is interesting to see in contrast to a theoretical "perfect" week (all of my best days in a single week), which would be around 34 minutes.