I don’t have a normal job and so usually my days always look different. For the first year of working for myself, I would take long lunch breaks or be out and about in Columbus during the afternoons. When Adam and I joined forces and created The Wonder Jam, we experienced the bliss that is seeing your spouse all day! We would also take long lunch breaks and traveled a lot.
Within the last 6-8 months, I’ve seen work take over my day (and nights) in a really aggressive way. From the moment I’d wake to the moment I’d sleep…I’d find myself working. Evening would hit and I’d say, “What did I DO today?” I realized I had to take control and actually plan my days down to the minute. It’s been life changing (while simultaneously taking away any spontaneity in my day-to-day life).
Every Sunday night, I generally plan my week based on tasks/projects. This past Sunday, my calendar already looked like this:
By Monday night (when I wrote this post), I really only had 2-hour pockets on Wednesday and Friday for anything that popped up. This means that when a client needs something urgent or something goes over 15-60 minutes, things get tight. I’m not able to schedule a meeting the day of or even the day before. (However…the opposite is also true in that if I work fast, I’m rewarded with more time!) And yes, I sometimes have to schedule showering.
Intentionally planning my day has allowed me to understand that I can’t do 15 things in a day’s time. It made me realize that my daily to-do lists were too unrealistic.
Despite the success, it still isn’t perfect. For the next three months, I’m going to try to attain a better balance. I want to be planning my day intentionally but leaving pockets for the fun, impromptu things. Sometimes that will mean leaving a window of two hours open during an afternoon or loading all my work into Monday-Thursday so I can take Friday off.
Small little steps have allowed me to bring about work/life balance:
- Trying to stop working between 5:30-7pm and help my clients learn this new schedule (as they’re used to me working into the wee hours of the morning).
- If I do need to catch up on emails at night, I schedule them to go out the following AM
- I can’t not check my email in the morning. More power to you if you can resist. I browse through emails, delete ones that aren’t important and check to make sure there’s nothing urgent. I’m able to relax much more in the earlier part of my day if I know there’s nothing pressing.
- (obviously) I block out time to work on project. I schedule them in 1-4 hour blocks depending on the complexity. I have to treat my client work just like an important meeting.
- Working out has been a great reason to stop working, move and spend time by myself. As an introvert, owning a business can be exhausting. Working out is something I can do alone and no one really challenges it.
- Keeping track of my workload so saying “yes” or “no” isn’t a moral/heart dilemma. It should be obvious if you’re too busy or have time.
How do you schedule out your day? Whether you’re self-employed or working for someone else, is there structure? Is it easy for you to stop working at 5 or 6?
ps: I blogged last week about bartering and trading services/products over at The Wonder Jam