Find your Rhythm
We all work in peaks and valleys of productivity and creativity. Understanding your ideal work day flow will help you manage your day to be as productive as possible.
Think about your ideal work day: How do you best work? When are you most creative? What work activities give you energy? What work activities drain you of your energy? When are you able to be proactive? When do you tend to be reactive? Are you a morning person or an evening person? (If you work with a partner, it’s also a good idea to understand their work rhythm.)
Now start to organize your ideal workflow by listing out rhythms you have during your day. I like to do this exercise using a simple spreadsheet (though pen, paper and chicken scratch work well too.) The point is to consciously think about how you work at different times throughout the day.
Think about the different chunks of time you have in your day to work and list each in a row in the first “Time” column. This can be 1 hour blocks of time, two hour, half hour, or any combination.
Think about your rhythm during those chunks of time, your cycle of when you work best and when you struggle to work throughout the day. When do you have the most energy, when do you feel like you’re a working zombie? When can you focus, be proactive, be reactive? When can you be creative? When can you work in “auto-pilot mode”.
Here is how I sketched out my workflow rhythm. Of course, yours will likely be very different, but you get the idea.
Add your “stuff” to your work rhythm to set your schedule
As we discussed in Tip 1 – Embrace your Stuff, trying to work in a 9-5 schedule when working in an alternative workstyle just leads to frustration. To continue our quick little exercise from above, adding your constraints or “stuff” to your workflow rhythm will help you identify a more realistic alternative workstyle schedule.
Add two more columns to your workflow rhythm, constraints and ideal task.
For each block of time you list, identify the constraints you have for that block of time. You’ve already brainstormed your constraints, so now think about the impact of those constraints on your blocks of time. It can be anything from, “need to work in my car”, “kids are around”, “nap time”, or “need to be available for calls from school”.
And finally, schedule the ideal tasks for those times, considering your constraints and rhythm.
Ideally, you will end up with a loose schedule that helps you understand how to best organize your work day…ideal times to check emails, meet with clients, write creatively, manage your accounting, or work on projects.
When I did this exercise (my ideal workflow example) I realized: there isn’t possibly enough time in the day to accomplish all I need to accomplish. We tackle this in tomorrow’s post “Just say No”.
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- How I use Flipside Workspace to Manage My Alternative Workstyle (alternativeworkstyle.com)
- 5 Biggest Challenges Working in an Alternative Workstyle (alternativeworkstyle.com)
- Working in an Alternative Workstyle (alternativeworkstyle.com)