How I structure my workweek

After struggling with quasi-burnout and distractions for weeks on end, which was eroding my income rather uncomfortably, I’ve finally been able to structure my week in a way that’s been working. “Working” means that I’ve been hitting budget. And I have to hit budget because I work for myself, in case that wasn’t clear.

Let’s start with what I was doing.

The Past

My past is rather fanciful. Basically, I went into business with a pretty good plan, as one must do. That plan still forms the foundation of what I do and my reasons and goals for being in business. One of the core tenets is that I must be able to spend time developing income sources other than hourly. This in itself is good, and I have not scrapped this. However, my days were filled with conflicting priorities all sandwiched together. My ideal schedule (often not followed) was something like:

  1. Respond to urgent emails
  2. Do some business administration tasks, paperwork, business errands, marketing, etc.
  3. Work on R&D projects (non-hourly revenue sources and experiments)
  4. Do some work
  5. Lunch
  6. Do some more work

…all fit into a ~7.5 hour day (not including lunch). Can you see why these priorities conflicted?

So, I looked at the situation and decided I needed to front-load the hourly work that was paying the bills. My schedule became something like:

  1. Urgent emails
  2. Do some work
  3. Lunch
  4. Do more work
  5. Business administration
  6. Work on R&D projects

This was better…but then I would inevitably either get caught up in email and lose the flow in the morning or I wouldn’t get to biz admin and R&D project stuff in the afternoon. Or both.

This needed another revision. I realized (and read somewhere, can’t remember where) that the first thing I did each day basically set the tone for the day. If I spent that initial energy on email, email would dominate the day. If I started out with an hour (or even a half hour) of work, then I’d build momentum, which would equal more billable time overall. I wanted that. So I further front-loaded the Do some work stage and put answering urgent emails second, after 30 minutes or an hour of work. Important emails were still answered, and things were picking up. However, business administration tasks and R&D tasks still suffered. So what did I do? Join me in the present.

The Present

The present, knock on wood, is fairly good. I’m hitting the minimum amount needed to pay the bills and save up a little for R&D*. This is more or less my work schedule for the week:

  • Monday-Thursday: Work, answer urgent emails, work. Period.
  • Friday: Work on business administration tasks primarily - clean up email, take care of marketing, accounting, or whatever needs to be done. Some work can be tacked on if needed, but budget should be hit by end of day Thursday.**

See what I did there? I picked one main thing to do each day instead of trying to do several things that required different kinds of focus. And this is actually working, so I’m continuing to do it and have no doubts that I will further refine the process as I learn more.

I’ll be sure to write about it.

* See my developer blog post, and the linked post therein.
** I haven’t managed to do this yet, but I tend to come awfully close. Sometimes I get a head start on Sunday evening, but I am trying to phase out weekend work unless totally necessary. Who wants to work every day? 

  1. pragmaticplanning posted this
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