Business

What my ideal work day looks like

office shed photography studio

N0tice how I use the word “ideal” instead of “typical” in the title? Although I’m not 100% consistent with my daily schedule, I know what leads to a super productive & high-results work day that FEELS GOOD for me.

I wasted years making excuses like “But I’m a creative free spirit! I don’t wanna force myself into rigid structure & routines!” And yet, I wasted a TON of time wheel-spinning, with few results to show for it.

A couple of years ago, I started paying close attention to when I feel most energized, and began experimenting with different work habits. It became clearer as I approached the launch of my 2nd business in 2017 (White Spruce Market) that something needed to change.

I could no longer afford to let my “free spirit” excuses hold me back from creating what I wanted to in the world. I thought there “weren’t enough hours in the day,” when in fact I just wasn’t managing my time or my brain effectively.

Now, in spring 2019, as I prepare to launch my 3rd business (with my husband this time) I actually feel the least overwhelmed I have ever felt in 10 years of business ownership. YES, you read that right:

I have never felt less overwhelmed.

As someone devoting time to growing three businesses, I want you to know:

  • I take two full days off each week. This is one of my non-negotiables.
  • I don’t work “overtime” and often get my work done early.
  • I average 7-8 hours of work each day (occasionally days run longer), however, my goal for summer 2019 is to work three days a week in my existing two businesses, while devoting the other days to getting our new business off the ground.
  • I’m not superhuman. You are totally capable of optimizing your work day & getting things done efficiently, too!
  • I currently have one Associate Photographer for my photography business, and just hired my first part time employee for White Spruce Market. Instead of viewing these as “just another expense,” I see them as heartfelt investments in the carrying out the vision of my businesses. In other words, these investments need to create great results to make them completely worthwhile. I used to be afraid of having someone else help me or serve my clients, but I no longer have ANY fear surrounding this (cheers to my business coach!).
  • I’m not suggesting you start three businesses. You don’t even need to start one, unless you feel called to! I simply want you to know what’s available to you in the world (literally anything you can dream possible), and that you don’t need to burn yourself out pursuing it.

 

Here’s what my ideal work day looks like:

 

6:30 am: Wake up, drink a full glass of H2O

This is my ideal wake-up time. I’m working on not letting this turn into 7:00 or 7:30. There. I’m putting it out into the universe, so let’s hold each other accountable! The book The Miracle Morning is a great primer for creating an effective morning routine that serves you!

7:00 am: Work out

I LOVE at-home workouts & have a Beachbody subscription. My fave programs are LIIFT4 and 21 Day Fix. Getting sweaty 4-5 mornings a week has done wonders for my energy & my brain power! It’s a key part of the foundation for my entire work day.

I also love yoga, but only in a studio/class setting. This year, I plan to attend yoga a few times a month (again, accountability! I’d love a local yoga buddy so HIT ME UP!).

7:45 am: Feed breakfast to the dogs, make breakfast smoothie

Last year, I read Body Love by Kelly Leveque, which is fairly science-y, but has a great foundation for understanding how hunger hormones work & how the body processes food. I started making her signature smoothie recipes every morning, and it has been a GAME CHANGER. I didn’t believe the science at first, but after remaining satiated for 5-6 hours after my smoothie every day for nearly a year, let me tell ya: I’m a believer!

8:20 am: Walk to my office

My office is a two minute walk from my house, tucked in the woods of our property. A short commute = more time to create + get things done!

8:30 – 10:30 am: Writing Time

Recently, I started introducing daily writing time into my day. I quickly realized that I crave uninterrupted writing time, and it’s essential for content creation. I set a timer (ideally for two hours), put on my fave playlist (Lord Huron, Avett Brothers, and Your Favorite Coffeehouse on Spotify are my go-tos!), and sit down to write. In fact, I’m typing this blog post during my daily writing time! In the future, I hope to try more batch working (like spending a full day or week writing & creating content for blog posts/social media/etc.). Right now, daily writing time feels more doable, and it helps build discipline around something that often gets swept to the side.

10:30 – 11:00 am: Tend inboxes, Social Media check-in

Around mid-morning, I’ll check my email and social media for the first time that day. I currently have three business inboxes, and prefer to set a short timer & try to “beat the clock” going through them. At this stage, I don’t receive a huge volume of emails that require attention, so it’s pretty easy for me to get through in 20 minutes or less.

My secret weapon for inbox management? EMAIL TEMPLATES. I have about 60 different templates that save me hours of time each month while still being personable & customizable! (Honest question: Is this something people are interested in learning more about / potentially purchasing? I’d love to hear!)

When heading onto social media, I ask myself “What is my purpose for the next few minutes?” and if I don’t have one, then it’s probably just mindless scrolling & not an effective use of my time. I’m a work-in-progress in this area! Setting app limits on my phone has been super helpful (I always have notifications turned OFF for all apps, email, etc. It’s a huge help in claiming back my time & headspace, which makes me less susceptible to overwhelm.)

11:00 am – 1:00 pm: Project work time

This varies every day! At the start of each week, I do a big “brain dump” and download all of my thoughts, projects, to-dos, etc onto paper. I then highlight the priorities for the week ahead, and assign each of those to a particular day in my planner (keeping in mind what’s realistic time-wise). I figure out what I can get help with, and either pass it along to a team member, or even my husband (i.e. dropping packages at the post office, picking up wholesale orders, etc.

1:00 – 2:00 pm: Lunch & short break, walk dogs

I keep lunch super easy, and my go-tos include…hard-boiled eggs, avocado egg salad, turkey slices, hummus, sliced veggies (prepped over the weekend), a hearty salad, nuts, or soup. I’m a big fan of doing “charcuterie boards,” which is basically a mashup of any of the above! My brain works best when I eat lean protein, fiber, healthy fat, and lots of veggies! If there’s time, I may walk the dogs in our woods or lounge in the hammock for a bit.

2:00 – 5:00 pm: Project work time

Now, the afternoon typically looks different than my morning project time. Because my energy is highest between 9 am – 1 pm, I try to get 80+% of my projects done for the day before lunch. My energy dips in the afternoon, so this is a much better time for hands-on projects & creative planning. Anything that requires heavy computer time gets scheduled for the AM! Afternoons are also a great time for me to head to a coffee shop & be around the humans. A little white noise + hang time around people keeps me energized!

5:00/5:30ish pm: Wrap up loose ends for day

I set timers for each of my work blocks throughout the day, so I know exactly where my time is going (because let’s be real, when we’re “in the zone,” we could keep going for hours!). I totally get it; when you’re in the creative flow you don’t wanna stop! But trust me here: When you practice discipline around when your work day starts & ends, it will be SO MUCH MORE SUSTAINABLE.

As I continue to see business owners left & right burning out, there’s often one common thread: A total lack of control over their time & how it’s spent. It might feel good to push yourself & keep working (almost like an addiction), but trust me: It’s not going to serve you in the long-run. Learn how to prioritize rest & healthy work day habits, and you’ll literally have time to create anything your mind can dream up!

 

Interested in diving in deeper?  I just re-launched Mentoring Sessions for creative entrepreneurs! Learn more here.

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