Before working remotely, I never considered optimal cycles of working. My commute, meetings, and community events dictated how my day went. Community management requires a lot of context switching, which only adds to the complexity of my day.
Pre-pandemic, there were days I would stay in the office until 7:00 PM to take advantage of the creative work cycle I experience later in the afternoon. I would also use my commute in the morning for learning, but it was mainly passive. Listening to podcasts and not being entirely intentional about what I was trying to learn. I would eat breakfast and lunch at my desk and not take a break to walk away from my work. When I returned home from work, I had about three hours for myself and my partner, and I would pass out, only to do it all over again.
My decision to inject intentional learning into my day is what helped me recognize my optimal working cycles. When I started doing this in January, I saw my workday immediately improve, and I adjusted some more by adding a daily walk. I find the following schedule is ideal right now:
9:00 – 9:30 AM – Check emails
9:30 – 10:30 AM – Intentional learning (reading or catching up on recorded webinars)
10:30 – 10:45 AM – Breakfast
10:45 – 2:00 PM – Meetings and operational or planning work
2:00 – 3:00 PM – Lunch at my desk while attending a meeting or answering emails
3:00 – 4:00 PM – Leave the house to take a walk (weather permitting)
4:00 – 6:00 PM – Creative work, documentation, and deck work
6:00 – 7:00 PM – Clean up my inbox
This schedule doesn’t hold every day, and that’s OK. I’m flexible. But if I accomplish this schedule three days out of the week, I log off on Friday feeling great.
The most significant adds to my day are intentional learning and the outdoor walk. Reading for an hour each morning (I’m currently reading The 10-Day MBA) and leaving my workspace to walk outside are game-changers. I turn off all notifications to concentrate while reading, and my day starts in a calm manner, which sets up the mood for the rest of the day. The walk is where I clear my head. Walking is where I can often get unstuck on a creative item or take a deep breath after a stressful meeting. Either way, I come back refreshed and ready to work some more.
This year, my goal is to keep this schedule up as long as possible, even if we transition into working more in the office later this year. It’s not only been good for me, but it’s suitable for the company when I (and everyone else) is at their best.