Being in complete control of my own schedule was one of the things I was most psyched about when I made the shift from working for someone else to working for myself. My time was finally mine, ALL MINE! (Insert lightning strike and maniacal hand rubbing.)
I imagined my workday would slip by in a breezy snap of the fingers, each moment blissfully designed with epic productivity and maximum self-actualization in mind.
At least that's how I hoped it would go. In reality, it took me about a year to hit my productivity stride.
Most of my regular work activities can be separated into one of three categories--coaching clients, writing and publishing, and administrative stuff.
There was more than enough time in the day to do each of those things, so here's how I chunked it out: writing in the morning, coaching clients in the afternoon, and administrative work sprinkled between, as needed.
Sounds good right?
Except it didn't work.
I wouldn't really hit my writing stride until late morning, at which point I had to stop and switch into coaching mode. I tried very hard to make this work for about 10 months. My coaching sessions felt fantastic, but my writing was kind of...flat. Stuck. I was spinning my wheels.
Now I'm writing like crazy, with a book ready to publish and enough weekly blog posts in the bank to take me through this time next year. I'm ON FIRE, productivity-wise, when it comes to my writing. I'm also way more productive in my coaching work. I'm working with more clients than I ever have.
So what changed? My schedule, that's what.
I'm a bit clunky when it comes to switching focus. It takes me a while to get in the zone with a task, and just as long to get out of it. If I'm knee-deep in a project, it takes me a while to gear down. I like to go deep and stay there. I need long stretches of time to do one kind of thing. That's how I do my best work.
It's not overstating it to say that knowing this has changed my life and changed the way I run my business. I've finally mastered the art of creating the right work conditions for myself.
Instead of breaking up my day into chunks of very different activities, I do one thing all day long. I see clients all day, or write all day, or do administrative work all day. That way, I can go deep and stay in the zone, no matter which task I'm working on.
My client days are intimate and intense and action-packed and incredibly fulfilling. My writing days are chill and inspired, with lots of time and no pressure. Administrative days (there are fewer of these, thankfully) are spent in sweatpants, slogging it out from my MacBook at home. Coffee and jazz help me along.
When people ask what my typical workday is like, I'm half tempted to say, which one? I don't have a typical workday. I have three.
I don't know many people who split up their work like I do, which is probably why it took me so long to create my ideal schedule. I was doing what everybody else was doing instead of figuring out what was best for me.
Experimenting with different ways of splitting up your time and tasks might be a real game changer for your work. If you don't dig your work or if you're not as productive as you'd like to be, maybe the problem is actually your schedule, not your job.
Do you like to switch between a variety of tasks to keep things fresh? Or are you like me, and prefer to focus deeply on one thing for long stretches of time? Discovering your ideal arrangement for task switching could change EVERYTHING.