This was written by Jen Waak, who pens a monthly health column for The Solopreneur Life.
I’ve never been much of a 9-to-5’er. My perfect workday would be 10-3 with a two-hour lunch. You think I’m joking–I’m not.
But, as a solopreneur, a three-hour workday is a total joke. Even Tim Ferris knows that isn’t possible.
Our workdays are more like 13 hours, not three. During those 13 hours, our days are typically some mix of client meetings, working on the business (marketing, accounting, sales, and admin), and working in the business (proposals and other deliverables). Many time-management and productivity gurus would say, “Get the important stuff out of the way first to make sure it gets done.” While conceptually I like the idea, I disagree.
You should structure your day to fit how your brain works.
I’m not a morning person. Anything before about 10 a.m. really doesn’t exist for me. I start out my mornings with coffee and all of the trivial, admin, no-thinking-required work that I possibly can.
My afternoons are great for sending e-mails and doing overall project planning and scheduling.
But the evenings–those sacred evenings–are when I’m my creative best. My best writing comes out after 10 p.m. I don’t know why, and I really wish that wasn’t the case. But, after years of fighting it, I’ve come to realize that when I really need to write something brilliant, there is no point in even sitting down to the computer until at least 9 p.m. On the other hand, my friend Liz is her creative best before 8 a.m. Go figure.
How do I make that work? On the days when I know I have a writing project ahead of me, I knock off a bit earlier during the day, take some time for myself, and simply schedule my week to ensure I’m home those nights. A bit unconventional, sure, but there is also something very self-indulgent about knocking off work mid-afternoon and going for a long walk or meeting a friend for coffee. It’s all about how you look at it.
Managing the Unconventional Schedule
• Don’t work through. If evenings are a prime time for you, trade those hours with free time elsewhere in the day.
• Enlist your spouse/significant other. This might mean that your spouse has to put the kids to bed by his or herself. Offer your kids and/or spouse some one-on-one time at a different time in the week to make up for it.
• Don’t fight it. This solopreneur thing is hard enough without forcing yourself to work contrary to your natural style. Forcing things wastes time, creates frustration, and ultimately leads to longer work hours.
Tell me in the comments below what you have done as a solopreneur to optimize your work schedule.