6 months on my own: Work schedule

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For the last 6 months since I quit my day job I have been trying to find THE BEST schedule for me. It’s not easy. Working for yourself is not all Pinterest and cupcakes. I mean, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. But still.

And because I’m still trying to figure out the best schedule, I haven’t yet set any real boundaries for myself (or others). Which means that my schedule gets even more way out of whack some times.

I’ve been using Google Calendar for almost a year now – by far the LONGEST I have ever used a method/planner/scheduling medium. I love that I can set recurring tasks (vacuum, send monthly newsletter, write) and that I can easily drag-and-drop a task to another day if I need to.

Here’s what I want my week to look like:

Everything in its proper place. Some gaps, even, throughout the week to read for fun or work on a last-minute deadline. And weekends totally empty except for writing.

ideal week

Here’s what it actually looks like:

Weekends full of the the things I haven’t gotten to over the week. Not actually taking a holiday off work. Immeasurable overlapping tasks that keep getting pushed back and pushed back because newer, more urgent things come up or because I am terrible at estimating the time it will take, or because I get distracted by something that wasn’t on the schedule.

actual week

Truthfully – the best part of my schedule is I can tweak it so I don’t have to leave the house more than once or twice a week. I try to do all my errands the same day, but other than that I often only actually leave the house to get the mail from the sidewalk mailbox.

The worst part of my schedule is that I am NEVER done.

Here’s a glimpse at what it is like at my house on any given weekday…. All times are approximate.

6:45 AM – I’ve been letting myself wake up naturally without an alarm. Of course, I wake up with a cat in my face. Khaleesi’s new thing is to scratch up the corner of the mattress right by my face. And then when she notices I’m awake she walks back and forth over my pillow or my body to make me get up. She’s the worst.

7:00 AM – feed the cats, start the coffee, sit down in the living room with my laptop and “check” all the social medias to see how popular and needed I have miraculously become overnight.

7 – 9:00 AM – This tends to be my ‘catch-up’ time. Responding to emails that came in overnight, scheduling the tweet for my post that went up that morning, blogging the afternoon post I wanted to get up today, checking the various FB groups I’m part of (30Lists, BUILD, etc), getting distracted by a link someone posted, finishing the library book that needs to go back and get blogged, making sure Andrew gets up in time for work.

9 – 10:00AM – shower, get dressed and ready for the day, eat breakfast, usually feed the cats right about now so I don’t have to think about it later.

10:00 – 3:00PM – work. Or try to work. Or try not to get distracted by something else. This can be anything from blogging for the week ahead to having a coaching call to finally answering a bunch of comments (I am bad at that) to working on my Project Life book so I have something to blog next week to writing new emails to my list and a long long continuing list of things I want to do to NURTURE my little business.

3p – my brain has stopped working very well. And I need to stand up. And eat something. So I give myself a little break from work that usually ends up lasting the rest of the day.

Yes, I will handle emails or calls for Maggie if I need to. I will do the dishes or make dinner or vacuum if I need to. I will edit photos while I watch a movie or TV show with Andrew when he gets home. But for the most part, I am drained of the creative work by 4 or 5p on any given day. It might be partly due to the winter hours (I am constantly looking at the clock after dark thinking ‘How is it ONLY 6?’), but I think I am also a tried-and-true morning person.

I can’t tell if that means I need to wake up earlier so I can work more, or if I need to accept the fact that I’m not a proper entrepreneur since I don’t work 14-hour days.

Changes I want to make:

  • Wake up earlier. I love the mornings. I love waking up before sunrise, even.
  • Do NOT check email until 9:00 AM. Hard one when it’s on my phone. I try not to open it on my computer til mid-day.
  • Write every day. No, EVERY day. I want to finish a draft of one of my novels that is ready for readers.
  • ONLY do housework and other mindless activities after 4p when my brain turns off. Would be helpful if I could only run errands after that time too, but we’ll see.

Like most everything, my working-on-my-own schedule is a constant work in progress.

If you work from home, what have you found works for you?

{ 6 comments… add one }

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  • Cindy January 2, 2014 at 5:49 am edit

    Have you considered something like Asana? It’s amazing for recurring things and there’s something satisfying about being able to check off a task when you’re finished. They have a built in task timer that could help get a gauge of how long you think something will take. I’ve been using it at my day job for about two years and I really like it.

    Reply
  • Kristin Tweedale January 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm edit

    I haven’t found the one thing that works for me yet.
    Maybe there isn’t one thing.

    I know that I am better when I sleep in and work a bit at night. My first few hours are totally mentally unproductive, so I’d like to spend that time making myself something to eat and start the day off right. Then start reading (and commenting) on blogs — I set up the morning coffee app in my browser, so it will open up my favorite blogs each in a new tab.

    Then I’d like to transition into a solid work day — several hours maintaining my current obligations.

    I’d like to spend an hour (40 minutes) each night working on business stuff with Jeff when he gets home. Then we’ll make/eat dinner and move into the nightly relaxing activities.

    I tend to get a second wind around 9-10pm and I’d like to spend this time writing, creating, and working on things that make me happy. If I don’t get around to creating at night, no big deal — but I’d like to make sure that all the ‘have to get done’ work is finished early in the day so that I can let myself be freely creative when the time comes.

    Reply
  • Elaine January 9, 2014 at 11:08 am edit

    I like the “opening” you leave for being creative and relaxing activities. I find though that when I spend several hours on the computer blogs/email/social media that I feel unproductive. So I like to do the tangible stuff first. I am totally out of balance so far too. Still trying to figure it out.

    Reply
  • Kam January 3, 2014 at 7:50 am edit

    I found that I do my best when I get my errands done first thing in the morning so I don’t have them looming over my head for the rest of the day – the most days I can go without leaving the house is 2, so I would go batty only leaving once or twice a week!

    When I need to get a lot of things done, I use the Pomodoro method and really work with that deadline to make sure I’m not just “checking” social media or “browsing” Netflix to find the next thing to have on in the background.

    I think you’re right, you need to do your housework and mindless tasks later in the day when you don’t need the decision-making power anymore, don’t let those tasks take up too much of your energy!

    Reply
  • Elaine January 9, 2014 at 11:05 am edit

    WOW! I see that we suffer from the same diseases of “distracted by shiny objects” and attending things not on the schedule, oh yea, make a schedule and quitting the day job. Nurturing a business is hard work. So glad to see I’m not the only one. Thanks for your honesty.

    Reply
  • Hannie May 16, 2014 at 10:31 am edit

    I’m currently on maternity leave and clearly I’m supposed to be relaxing and chilling out but I’ve spent the last two weeks doing that and think I need a bit more of a schedule of some sorts – even if it’s just do chores between 9 and 10 and then write blog posts until 12 or something like that. My friend keeps telling me off for trying to productive – I can’t help it lol.

    Reply
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