Scheduling to my strengths

I’m endlessly fascinated with what successful people’s days look like. How do they schedule? How do they work? How do they, in short, accomplish all the things required for success?

I’m always toying with my own schedule, trying to find a way to really be productive (most days, I’d settle for just feeling like I was productive, whether I really was or not).

Usually this involves coming up with some new schedule, doing it for a week, loving it and then abandoning it to die as soon as a big deadline hits. This seems to be an endless cycle in my life.

So, for the next step in that cycle, I came up with a new schedule to accomplish a few goals I have. It should be nice for a week or so.

7:30AM Up and Ready For the Day.
Might get up earlier. Might get up later. Working from home I have that freedom. But the goal is to be showered (ha!), have the first batch of e-mail returned for the day, and be in the office by 8:00AM.

8:00AM – 10:00AM Writing
I write best when my mind is fresh. My mind is freshest in the morning. It’s one of those creative endeavors that, for me, requires more brain power than, say, designing a company’s brochures. I might as well churn out my day’s words in the morning, when they’ll be the best. I’ll use this time for any kind of writing, be it blog posts, client work or fiction. I’ve been a semi-professional writer for a few years (meaning I get paid for some my writing, but it’s not the majority of my work) and I think it’s time I started seriously working toward getting rid of that “semi” part.

10:00AM – 11:00AM Creative Work/E-mail
Whatever needs doing at this point. Lots of e-mail comes in every day so this hour can be for that or doing any other work that I need to clear out before lunch.

11:00AM – 12:00PM Lunch
I like my lunch early. Then I can work through the normal 12-1 hour when most people are eating. If my clients are eating, they aren’t calling me and I can have an uninterrupted hour to work. Also I try to spend my lunch time somewhere other than my office.

12:00PM – 2:30PM Creative Work
I can churn out a lot of work in two-and-a-half hours. Especially if I close down my e-mail/Twitter/the internet and stay organized.

2:30PM – 3:30PM Siesta*
A nap? For an hour? Probably not. But it helps me to take an hour at about this time to rest, read or, really, do anything but stare at a computer monitor. At this point I will have churned out quite a bit of creative output and by about 2:30, my brain is mush. I’m basically useless. I can sit at my computer drooling on myself (with the client’s meter running, mind you), or I can take a break (turning off the timer) and do something to disconnect my brain from my task list. If I try to power through this hour I never get much else done that day. At least nothing you’d consider quality work. If I take an hour to rest, it makes my last part of the day so very productive. Trust me, it’s a fair trade-off for my clients.

3:30PM – 4:30PM Wrap Up the Creative
Time to put a bow on this day, it’s almost done. I spend this hour returning the last of the day’s calls/e-mails and wrapping up any projects due that day (or, if by some miracle of God I’m working ahead, the next day).

4:30PM – 5:00PM THE FUTURE!
If I don’t spend a specific amount of time each day working on gaining new clients, well, they don’t usually just back the dump truck filled with cash up to my door. I have to go find them and then ask them to do that. Such a pain. Incidentally, when I’m fishing, the fish don’t just jump in the boat. Who do I see about that?

5:00PM – 5:30PM Organize the Next Day
Time to get the task list ready for the next day, send some e-mail and generally make sure I set myself up to be productive again.

Once again, all this sounds nice but any number of things (calls, meetings, being sick, deadlines, rabid weasels, being out of bacon) can come into play and screw this schedule up. But it would be nice if it lasted. I think it would be productive and allow me to continue taking on new opportunities. Also it would allow me to quit most days before midnight. That’d be nice.

*This would be the point, dear reader, when you might be thinking, “wow, this guy sounds like a jackass. A nap, really?” I don’t deny some amount of jackassery involved in this list, after all, there are people who have to really work for a living. I mean physically work. Roofing houses, this ain’t. Well, I earn my living with my brain. All the creative work I get paid for comes from said brain and if I don’t treat it right (rest it often, don’t do drugs, don’t stab it with an ice pick) my work is not as good. And if it’s not good, I don’t get hired, which means my kids starve. So, yeah, I’ll grant you I don’t do a lot of physical labor (although my photo shoots should qualify) but it’s still work.

**Also a note about the times: if I screwed any of them up, it’s because I’m currently hopped up on Nyquil and, man, it does weird stuff to my aforementioned brain.



  1. ileenie says

    Enjoyed this article. I too struggle with how to structure my day, and I DO nap from time to time. It completely recharges me and makes for a more productive day. Don’t minimize the power of a well-rested brain!

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