Working from home is challenging. (This is not a complaint, btw, I’m on a 21-day complaint fast. This is day 3, but it’s my 4th attempt because I’ve yet to go 21 days in a row without complaining.) Working from home when you have no one to report to except yourself is even more challenging. I used to struggle with organizing my time productively and not trashing myself at the end of the day for not getting enough done… I’m sure I’m the only one out there who does that.
In the past I would create immense lists of everything I wanted to do each day and never get it all done. To me, it was just a matter of being more organized and focused. I told myself that I just wasn’t disciplined enough. How come I could I never get everything on my list done?
When I was contemplating quitting my soul-sucking job in order to focus on my creative life, I sought out a career counselor (Alanna Fero is MUCH more than a career counselor, but that will have to suffice) who made me realize something about the amount of TIME I have each week. I’d never really looked at this before. I’m silly.
Did you know there are 168 hours in a week? Well, sure, that’s obvious if you do the math, but have you ever sat down and figured out how you spend those 168 hours? Could it be you’re expecting yourself to do more than 168 hours worth of stuff in your week? I sat down a few months ago to figure this out.
Call me crazy, but I like to sleep and eat some of those 168 hours. So I subtracted those hours. There’s also time I like to spend with Baby, time for relaxing, exercising, my morning routine, socializing… I try to stay balanced. And even though it’s not as much fun as other stuff, I had to think about time spent on domestic things like laundry, shopping, and cleaning the bathroom. I even plotted out 6 hours per week towards what I call “edutainment” (cuz i’m a nerd and like edutaining myself).
After adding up time spent on all of those things, I discovered I had 39 1/2 hours left for writing, editing, and career biz each week. Then I gave 4.5 of those hours to “social media” (like this here blog).
If I think about my schedule in “blocks of time” I spend on projects, it seems easier to get things done and I’m less hard on myself. I don’t have to clean my entire office in one day… I can spend 15 minutes per day cleaning my office. I say, “this is my 15 minute office cleaning time,” set my timer, and go for it. I’ve actually been doing this for the past few weeks and my office is starting to look much better.
If I want to send out queries, instead of saying I’m going to send out 5 queries today and then get upset with myself for only sending out 3, I say, “I’m working on my queries for 90 minutes.” And I focus on queries for 90 minutes. Wow, I succeeded! I worked on queries for 90 minutes.
So I’ve made up blocks of time that incorporate every aspect of my life and organize them. And then I get done what I get done in those blocks of time… and before I know it, I’ve sent out 20 queries. Or have written 50 pages of a screenplay.
Sometimes I have to shift things around. When we were renovating our house, my “domestic” hours were up to 10-12 per week. I just temporarily adjusted my blocks of time… because for some reason, those 168 hours per week didn’t increase when I needed them to. With all my blocks of hours set out in front of me, I could consciously decide if I wanted to cut into social media time, relaxing time, or edutainment.
It may sound inflexible or a pain in the ass to organize a lifestyle into blocks of time, or unromantic to schedule time with Baby. But I have to say, for someone who is easily distracted by shiny objects, this is the first method I have ever managed to work for me. Sure, I slip, but it’s pretty easy to come back to. And easy to adjust.
Are there any methods of organizing your work/life that have worked especially well for you?