Saturday turned out to be my favorite kind of work day, the sort where I find myself at my most productive for the longest periods of time.
For me, that sort of day consists of blocks — about 45 to 60 minutes each — dedicated to a specific task, with consecutive blocks comprising very different kinds of work. An hour of writing might follow thirty minutes of yard work, and precede an hour of throwing a ball around with my older son. The blocks let me group like tasks so I’m not constantly interrupting myself, and the variety keeps me from getting bored. For the record, getting bored is probably the most serious threat to my personal productivity in any task.
The rest of my fam was out of town for Saturday, so I spent that day alternating between cleaning house, doing laundry, writing on assignments and exercise. By the end of a 10-hour “shift,” I’d completed more than that day’s goal for writing assignments, excavated the floor of the playroom and run three loads of towels, diapers and workout clothes.
It might be that this sort of schedule works for your. It might be that you’d find such rapid channel-switching means you feel like you stop just as you’re getting started. The important thing is to spend a little time thinking about how you work when you’re at your best.
Consider for a few minutes a few of those magic days you’ve had where you felt like you were on fire. You got everything done, ahead of schedule, and had time left over to hit the gym and make a nice dinner. And you weren’t even tired when you went to bed that night.
What did your schedule for those days look like? There’s a fair chance they looked pretty similar. If you plan your work to feel like those days, you’ll see your productivity explode.
One of the great joys – and most serious dangers – of working from home as a freelancer is you get to set your own schedule. Doing it wrong means spending too much time on tasks that don’t make the money that lets you keep staying at home. Doing it right means better productivity, more energy, more money and less stress.
Thanks for listening.
The problem I run into working at home is that sometimes I have too many distractions around me. But when I’m really motivated, that doesn’t matter. I think when I’ve worked the best on my writing though have been days that I’ve had the roughest time at my day job, because then I’m reminded on why I want to work at home doing something I love.
A great point, Kati. Think how it is for me — my distractions include a 14-month toddler and his nearly 11-year old brother. It can be hard to make myself work between demands for cuddles on the one hand and requests to throw the football around on the other. Like you, I remind myself why I’m working. This assignment is to buy groceries. That assignment is for the college fund. This one here…well, with a few more it’ll take them both to China in a few years.
Bradbury tells a story about this in his autobiography. When writing F451, resisting play time with his kids got so hard he actually wrote the book at the library, on coin-op typewriters that ran on dimes. As he says, it’s literally a “dime novel.”
Keep on pushing. From your blog, you seem very talented. You’ll get out of that nine to five soon enough.