Last month I wrote an article for Lifehacker titled How to Schedule Your Day When You Work From Home.
It included a summary of my daily routine and the boundaries I set to accommodate my workflow, including the big reveal that I don't check email until 10 a.m.
Then Lifehacker invited me to write daily posts for them, and... well... I check email before 10 a.m. now.
So I set aside a big chunk of no-email-time in the afternoons, instead.
The Lifehacker schedule is morning-oriented. Assignments go out first thing, and we're encouraged to bring our own ideas to the assignment table, which means I need to be at my desk at 8 a.m., opening my inboxes and reading my feeds and looking for new stories worth sharing.
It takes about an hour to get all of the assignments sorted, which is also a good time for me to process my email, fill out my Daily Spreadsheet, and do any admin work I've got scheduled for that day.
At that point, I theoretically could switch back to my old routine of "working on NEXT BOOK before I wrote anything else," but since my head is already filled with Lifehacker assignments and ideas, I write those first.
Then I write this post.
Then I eat lunch!
(This'd be around 11 a.m., if you're curious.)
Then I do another quick pass through my inboxes and my feeds.
Then I go play the piano for 20 minutes. YES, I KNOW NOT EVERYBODY CAN DO THIS. If I didn't have a piano, or if I weren't working from home, I'd probably go for a walk. What I'm actually doing is creating a ritual that tells me it's time to switch from "short project brain" to "longer project brain." (I'm also giving myself a break from work.)
Then I come back and do a couple hours of work on a longer project. Maybe it's a 2,000-word post for Bankrate or Haven Life. Maybe it's a class I'm creating for Hugo House. Maybe it's NEXT BOOK.
(My goal is to save two afternoons each week for NEXT BOOK, btw.)
I start running out of long-project-steam around 3 p.m., so I jump back into my inboxes, grab a snack, do some reading for Reedsy or some editing work for one of my editing clients, and do my shutdown ritual at 4 p.m.
So far, this new schedule works — and you know I'll change it if it stops working.
I know not everybody gets to choose how they work, or how to structure their workday, but if you do, I'd love to hear how you do it. Do you also put in "transition rituals" to get you from project to project? (I bet a lot of us take some mental transition time no matter how we work; we check social media or get a cup of coffee or go outside for a few minutes.) Do you try to do the same things in the same order every day? Do you try to spend some time, every day, with your inboxes closed?
Let me know. ❤️