Before I became a full-time writer, I didn’t give much thought to what a realistic day at the office would be for me. I had an idealized image of a writer in my mind — one that included afternoon drinks at the White Horse Tavern with Jack Kerouac and Anais Nin — and most of my wayward fantasies didn’t actually include writing.
Ha ha ha. Ho ho ho. Hee hee hee.
I love my job, but it usually doesn’t include shots of whiskey every afternoon with New York’s (deceased) literati. Mostly, it involves sitting behind a computer for 10 hours a day moving my fingers up and down on a keyboard.
One way that I kept (and continue to keep) 10 hours of typing from being painful is to make sure that I’m involved in its planning.
At the beginning of every day, I set aside five minutes to plan my perfect day. It doesn’t always turn out exactly the way I expected, but it rarely gets completely uprooted. Also, the plan is more about putting anxieties to rest than a rigid to-do list.
- Identify the work that has to be completed by the end of the day. What, if you fail to accomplish, will get you fired/stressed/full of anxiety/arrested/etc.?
- Identify at least three things you want to do in addition to the must-do items.
- Identify any routines that should take place to keep you on track. Is today a laundry day? Is it your night to make dinner?
- Estimate length of time to complete all of your must do, want to do, and routine projects.
- Write out a plan for your day, where you stagger easy and difficult tasks and schedule the hardest task when you’re the most alert.
- Get working.
- 6:10 a.m. Wake up, drink coffee, eat breakfast, enjoy the silence.
- 6:30 a.m. Get ready, shower.
- 7:00 a.m. Go to work.
- 8:00 a.m. Check in with staff/boss.
- 8:15 a.m. Plan day, check e-mail, read RSS feeds.
- 8:30 a.m. Work on difficult projects.
- 11:30 a.m. Have lunch.
- 12:30 p.m. Check e-mail.
- 1:00 p.m. Work on easy projects.
- 2:30 p.m. Zone out unintentionally, drink coffee.
- 3:00 p.m. Work on difficult projects.
- 5:00 p.m. Check e-mail.
- 5:15 p.m. End of day check-in with staff/boss, file, put materials away, set up desk for next day.
- 5:30 p.m. Go home.
- 6:30 p.m. Fix dinner, eat dinner.
- 7:30 p.m. Daily chores.
- 8:00 p.m. Help children with homework.
- 9:00 p.m. Relax, spend time with spouse, be social, read, watch tv, meet a friend for a drink, call mom, work out at gym, and/or do something fun.
- 11:00 p.m. Bed.
The example schedule isn’t mine (I don’t have kids needing help with homework, and I’m already at my desk writing on my book at 6:30 a.m.), and it probably won’t work for you either, it’s just here to give you an example of how you might schedule your day. The point of the example is to show you how you could keep time from slipping away from you, and make sure that you accomplish what you want to accomplish. Give it a whirl and see how you might plan your perfect day.