While freelancing and working from home gives me more flexibility with my schedule, it still takes quite a bit of organization and discipline to do everything I need to do each day. Being a divorced single parent makes it a little harder than if I had someone else here to help but I am also cynical enough to think that the 2nd “helper” would cause a different set of problems for me. ;-)
While some days are a little different because my daughter might have been at her Dad’s the night before so I don’t need to take her to school in the morning or she might have an art class in the afternoon, which gives me a longer work day, this is what a typical weekday is like in my house.
5:45am – 6:30am – I have my alarm set for 6:20am. I usually wake up before it goes off, especially this time of year when it’s already so bright outside.
6:30am – 7:00am – Make and drink coffee (#1 priority) and check email. I don’t usually answer emails but I organize it – delete things I don’t need, file to do’s for later, see what has come in that might change my schedule for the day. Sometimes I answer blog comments at this time. And since I got a smartphone sometimes I organize my email via the phone while drinking coffee in the kitchen rather than doing it at the computer.
7:00am – 8:00am – Wake up the kid, make school lunch, make breakfast, nag kid to get up and get ready, make beds, various chores, get dressed. The kid doesn’t need a full hour to get ready to go but I start trying to wake her up at 7am because sometimes it’s really hard to get her up. On other days she wakes up super early and starts chatting with me before I’ve had enough coffee ;-)
8:00am – 9:00am – Walk the kid to school. Sometimes I drop her off at a friend’s house and they take her with their kids and sometimes I walk those same kids to school. So, depending on the day I am either home at 8:20 or 8:45. And we walk no matter what the weather. Well, our friends have a car so once in a great while he will drive them if there is a big thunderstorm or something. When I walk the entire way I usually stop at a cafe near school on the way home and chat with the woman who works there.
9:00am – 12:00pm – Work. I try to do the hardest task first. This isn’t necessarily the one that will take the longest but the one that will take the most thought. As you can probably tell by this schedule so far, I am definitely a morning person. So, I try to do the most difficult work when my brain is working properly ;-) I try not to schedule calls during this time and I don’t check email too frequently unless I’m not that busy. I don’t answer unscheduled calls either. When I am really focused, which is 3 or 4 of the 5 workdays, I get A LOT done in 3 hours.
12:00pm – 1:00pm – Eat something. I usually eat at my desk. I know it’s a bad habit but since I usually have 6-7 solid work hours per day I need this time. Check emails. Check Facebook and Twitter. Some days I use social media earlier in the day – it depends on how busy I am and if I have anything interesting to post or say. This is also the time of day where I will test new WP plugins or other code, take screenshots and notes and read other informative articles. I guess it’s the eat, email, research hour.
1:00pm – 2:00pm – More work. This is when I will do things that take less thought – things I can do in my sleep like backing up a site, upgrades, fixing CSS issues. If I have paperwork, such as proposals, contracts to sign, etc. I will also work on those during this time.
2:00 – 3:00 – By this point in the day no brilliant thoughts, code or solutions are going to come out of me. It’s the time by body usually wants to nap but I don’t. I will continue working on the same types of tasks I did the previous hour. If I have a post to write, like this one, I will often work on it at this time. That doesn’t mean that I’m such a great writer that I can write when I’m pooped but I usually have it planned out from the research I’ve done and it’s just a matter of putting it together.
3:00pm – 4:00pm – Walk to school, pick up the kid, and run errands. This can be going to the park, the library or the co-op. It depends on the day and on the weather. On days my kid has an art class or is going to her Dad’s house I usually stop working at 3:00pm unless I am super busy or have something I have to get done. I used to always work til 5 or 5:30 but I learned that’s it just not productive time because my brain stops working well around 2pm. I’m better off running errands, doing chores, going to appointments, or doing nothing. Also, now that is getting warmer it’s usually pretty hot in the house by this time of the day and I am always try to not use air conditioning.
4:00pm – 5:00pm – This is when the kid does most of her homework. I check emails again and do any tasks that either won’t take too long or can handle interruptions. I’ve repeatedly asked the kid that if she gets stuck on something to move on to the next problem and then we will check it together later. But, I can’t seem to train her to do this – she has a hard time leaving it and moving on to the next problem. I get it. I can be stubborn that way too even though I do know that walking away for a bit can be the best way to solve one of these issues.
5:00pm – 8:00pm – Family / chore time. Dinner, more homework, cleaning up the kitchen, laundry, baths, hanging out together, playing cards, etc. Around 7:30pm the kid usually calls her Dad and then I read aloud to her for 30 minutes or so. Currently we are reading The Golden Compass, which has been a little slow going. The kid also gets annoyed when the book differs from the movie even though I keep insisting that the book came first and they are always going to change or leave things out in a two hour film.
8:00pm – 11:00pm – The kid goes to bed between 8 – 8:30. She usually reads in bed for 30 minutes or so before she goes to sleep. Some think her bedtime is early but she is usually exhausted and she’s a sleeper – I think she is still making up for not sleeping at all the first year or so of her life. Very very very rarely do I do any work at this point in the day. I will if I am unusually busy and want to clear some things off my to do list before the next day or if I am being paid extra for a rush job but this isn’t the norm. I’m just too tired by this point in the day to get much done. I can get more done for three hours in the morning than I can for 7 hours after 2pm. Sometimes I play a video game or watch a movie but I usually read until I fall asleep, which tends to be between 10-11pm.
Rinse and repeat. Of course, there are some variations to this. For example, on Friday nights there isn’t homework so that is movie night and when the weather is super nice we will go to the park for longer after school. And this schedule is different in the summer because the kid is home more (and that’s a whole separate issue in trying to get work done).
I have to be really organized to manage this schedule but it’s working out really well. I manage to get a lot of work done in as little time as possible and I have plenty of time to spend with my daughter.
How about you? Is your schedule anything like mine?