I keep hearing people saying that working for yourself is hard to manage, as you have to work hard to focus and do the work instead of getting distracted by things such as Facebook, Hacker News, Twitter, Reddit and the likes. I wouldn’t agree with it, or better put, these distractions exist in an office just the same. If you don’t have access to fun or news sites, there’s always having a chat at the water cooler, the coffee machine, the cigarette break (for smokers), and all kind of other interruptions (questions, phone calls, emails and so on).
I’ve been trying to work from home for a while now (during my vacation time, since I am injured, vacation doesn’t involve too much physical activity so I am bound to do work that I like and am interested in) and I actually can create my perfect day whilst being extremely productive, even more than I am in an actual office (remember all those interruptions? You can’t escape them without seeming inconsiderate most of the time).
Morning (6:30 – 8:30)
I discovered that my brain functions at its best in the morning, so this is reserved to learning. I either choose to read a book (currently Drucker’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship) or I do an online course (at this moment Penn University’s Gamification and BerkeleyX’s Statistics courses) on the topic I am currently studying. The topics I choose if relevant for my work (I intend to use Gamification for Firsty for example) or refreshing content, with relevant courses from a top university (if you want to study organizational design with Stanford, now you have the chance).
Breakfast (8:30 – 9:30)
I always have some healthy, protein-filled breakfast (usually scrambled eggs with whole-wheat bread and veggies), and take my time to prepare and have it, as a break is always good after learning. Depending on my mood, I might have breakfast and work in a café for the morning.
Work time (9:30 – 12:30)
From now on, I start working on my ongoing project (be it Firsty, Work in Startups or the newly born Girls Who Code Romania). This is the time where I tackle the most difficult parts of my work – be it creative or analytic – and build deliverables. The higher the effort it requires, the bigger the chance that the tasks end up here. I start by doing a daily to-do list, to make sure I have it all planned and know what to do next. When I get into working, it’s easy to end up in a different point that I actually wanted, get stuck, get distracted by more work and not get much done at the end of the day.
Gym time (12:30 – 14:00)
I discovered that I am the most unproductive during lunch time, mentally speaking, but my body is at its peak physically, thus my gym time happens during lunch hour. I grab a snack before (a banana most of the times) and hit the gym. The best thing about this time is that the gym is empty and there’s nothing better than an empty gym when you want to have a diverse and effective workout.
Late lunch (14:00 – 15:00)
Late lunch follows, most of the times something light – salads, soups, pretty much light stuff and recently a protein shake. Yep, no matter how hard I try, I don’t manage to get enough protein. Can’t wait for Soylent to come to my side of the world!
Back to work (15:00 – 19:30)
By this time my desire to work is back on track, so I go through all the tasks on the to-do list and try to get most of them done by the end of the day. There is no better feeling than crossing things out on a list, when they’re done and over with. A lot of the research work goes towards the end of the day, as I get tired and doing creative or analytic work becomes a bit more difficult. This is also the time for me to read and respond to emails; I keep it at the end of the day, as nothing tends to be urgent (I get those covered right away).
Dinner & fun time (19:30 – 22:30)
The end of the day is dedicated to fun. Dinner is not that important to me, as I don’t really do dinners (it’s most of the times a yogurt or something similar). I built the habit of not having dinner since I was 16, as I am a natural insomniac and eating heavily late would make me not sleep until morning sometimes. I always dreaded business diners in the past, as they actually made me eat late, unhealthily and disturbed my sleeping pattern.
Sleep (22:30 – on)
I made a habit – for any day, apart from the days when I go out, rarer and rarer lately – to get to bed at around 22:00 and read a book instead of watching or reading stuff on the laptop. At the beginning I was closing the laptop and would be reading on my iPhone but in the last month, maybe because the books were interesting, I managed to read Kaufman’s The Personal MBA, Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start and Ferriss’ The 4-Hour Workweek.