Update 2020-07-20: I’ve got an updated post of my daily schedule here.

Let’s face it. Managing time is quite hard. Especially when I don’t have people around who expect me to show up at certain hours. When I started working independently I wanted to learn the best way for me personally to manage my time. Some months ago I sketched out a rough utopian schedule the way I thought might work best for me. Just to see if I could stick with it.

Waking up early has definitely been the hardest part, but also the most rewarding. To help me with this, I bought the UP24 to aquire some data about my sleep and then adjust it over time. It’s been a couple of iterations to get there but now I think I have a pretty solid and well-balanced daily routine.

The Routine

06:00 AM: Feeling a gentle buzz on my wrist. My UP24 bracelet wants me to get up. In the beginning it was hard to get up by this time so I used a little trick I learned from Jeff Finley. First step is always the most crucial. So every evening before I go to bed, I put a glass of water on the drawer at the other side of the bedroom. When I open my groggy eyes and want nothing but to stay cuddling under the warm sheets, the only thing I have to do is to reach that glass and empty its contents. Nothing else. I can do that. After I finish drinking the water I’m awake and then I can take the next step. Totally fooling myself every day but hey, it works.

06:10 AM: I’ve made a point of not checking any screens at this point. I don’t want to start the day in the wrong way. My only objective now is to get my things together so I can head out the door.

06:20 AM: I’ve made it out the door and I’m on my daily walk. Usually I’m listening to The Web Ahead or Unfinished Business, just to learn something new while I’m breathing fresh air and moving my body. Hey, that’s a win-win-win. This is just a little trip around the block to work up my hunger for breakfast. I’m trying to see breakfast as a reward, so I turn this walk into my effort for earning it.

07:00 AM: I’m back home and ready to make some breakfast. Right now I’m in on this new “two-boiled-eggs-and-a-tea” diet. Never heard of it? Maybe cause I just made it up.

07:20 AM: I’m finished with breakfast and now I get to go to the computer and check my emails. I’m completing small tasks in my inbox right away, I’m snoozing the rest to come back at a relevant time or day. After around half an hour of checking up on news from Twitter and the internet I’m ready to get to work.

08:00 AM: This is the most important time of day. I’m not gonna be more productive than within the span of the next couple of hours. This is the peak of the day so I better make use of it. I’m doing all the heavy lifting I have on todays plate until lunch, with short breaks now and then for stretching and walking around. There may also be a little snack.

12:00 PM: Lunchtime! Usually I finish lunch by having another quick walk around the block.

1:00 PM: Afternoons I try to split up into two blocks. This one stretches to somewhat around 3:00 PM. If I still have some loose ends from the morning session, now’s the time to get it done. I also answer some emails that may have plopped in.

3:00 PM: My head is getting heavy and I’m having a terrible time to stay focused. Okay, time to refuel the batteries. Getting away from the computer so I can do some reading and then a short power nap for 25 minutes to get back in the game.

4:00 PM: If I’m in a period with a heavy workload I will use the second afternoon session trying to get it down. Otherwise it’s, wait for it (drumroll …) Playtime! Until 6:00 PM is my free time. I can use it to experiment with something new, or to write, or take another walk.

6:00 PM: The working day is up and it’s time thinking about preparing something for dinner.

The Lessons Learned

Mornings are way more important to me than I believed. I used to get up at around 07:45 AM and then drag my sorry ass directly to the computer. Then diving right down the inbox to see 20 unread messages screaming for attention. Boy was that a mess! I was always behind. The whole morning untill lunchtime would be miserable.

Working out the habits before even getting to the main work has been the most successful part of the daily routine.

‘You shouldn’t lie till ten. There’s the very prime of the morning gone long before that time. A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock, runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.’ — Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights