Gah, that’s such a power-user title. I need to hire someone to write better titles. In the simplest terms, the title to this post is exactly what I mean to impart. But it just sounds so “I’m a productivity nerd… All I do is work, work, work, work, work.” And that’s not what this is.
Quickly, two pieces of back story.
First, I’m in isolation right now. Everyone in our house received positive COVID-19 tests this week. Young children are always sick, especially when they attend daycare. But it was my wife’s deeper cough that led to the test, which led to all of us finding out the news.
Rest assured, we’re OK. One daughter is through it already and back to 100%. The other daughter is 90% through it at this point. My wife is 90% through it. And my fingers are crossed that I remain asymptomatic. No symptoms so far despite the positive test.
So, that background painted, I’m working from home for the next 10 days or so. After 20 months of a global pandemic, it’s officially my turn to join the work-from-home revolution.
Second, when I was studying for the Common Final Exam from January to May 2021, I developed some strict habits. I wrote this for a (now-shuttered) Toonie newsletter back then:
Here’s my daily schedule, which I hope will alleviate on May 29th:
6:00AM — Alarm goes off
6:30AM — Stumble into shower after falling back asleep
7:15AM — After getting dressed and putting together my lunch, depart for work
7:30AM — Arrive at work; sit down
1:00PM — Stand up; lunch time
1:15PM — Finish eating lunch and get back to what I was working on
3:15PM — Stand up and make a cup of coffee; if this doesn’t happen by 3:15PM, skip the cup of coffee.
6:00PM — Finish work at the office and drive home
6:15PM — Hang out with my girls for 15 minutes
6:30PM — Sit down; eat supper
6:45PM — Stand up; time to study
9:00PM — Finish round one of studying
9:05PM — Get changed for a ride on the Peloton
9:30PM — Pick myself up off the floor after riding the Peloton; hop in shower
9:40PM — Finish shower; return to studying
11:15PM — Finish studying; brush teeth and collapse in bed.
Now, there’s a lot of work baked into that daily schedule. Too much work. I couldn’t keep this up for the next 40 years of my working life.
But there are certain sections of that strenuous day which continue to be my post productive sections today.
This spurt of having to work from home has slashed my day to pieces. Where I normally enter a “Deep Work” phase between 9:30AM and 11:30AM, I now find myself having breakfast with my family somewhere in there. And where I generally have a down period of work between 1:30PM and 2:30PM, I find myself wanting to ride the Peloton instead.
In a current regular workday, evenings after the girls have gone to bed is “Me Time”. I write for the site here, finish up some The Sweet Setup tasks, play video games, and watch the hockey or baseball game. I’ve also taken to riding the Peloton after 9:00PM during regular days.
When I was studying, I always found I had the best focus of my day from about 9:00PM to 11:00PM. This has been a productivity zone for me for about 10 years. I figured after school was finished, I’d fill that time with recreation instead.
I realize now that wasn’t the smartest idea.
Instead, given these choppy days, I’ve found it works well to take otherwise Deep Work time from the afternoon and moved it to my 9:00PM timeframe. Then, in the afternoon, I can spend time with family or ride the Peloton. I get more done between 9:00PM and 11:00PM than I would ever get done in the 3 or 4 hour afternoon anyway.
So I’m going to see if this schedule sticks. My goal is to take otherwise unproductive time (from 1:30PM to 2:30PM) and use that time to ride the Peloton or do other home tasks. And then I’ll work from 9:00PM to 11:00PM instead. All the benefits of fitness combined with all the benefits of my best focus time of the day.
It’s fascinating to me how a simple change like this can have such a major impact on productivity. I’ve been indoctrinated to believe the workday runs from 8:00AM to 5:00PM, and hours worked after 5:00PM are a straight cut from family time.
But by moving a productivity period to the later evening and getting as much work done in that 2 hours as I would in 3.5 hours during the workday, I’ve found myself 1.5 hours of extra time to spend with my family.
Funny how that works.