I used to like working a lot at night, but with 3 kids and a wife, I've become more of a morning person! I usually have breakfast with my family, and then either head to the gym with my wife, or get started on work.
I usually spend the mornings catching up on emails and messages, or doing phone calls. I'll grab some lunch, and then try and get most of my creative work done in the afternoon - either coding, planning or getting something else done.
I'll usually have dinner with the family, put the kids to bed, and then get a few more hours of work done in the evening, which can be my most productive time.
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My typical work routine is that every day I turn on my desktop computer when I arrive home from my morning work.
I usually arrive home at 5:05 pm Philippine Time, and my shift for my online classes would be from 5:30 pm onwards since it is really unpredictable that the administrators online will put classes at any time from 5:30 pm onwards.
Though I have my regular students, sometimes they will put students for demo classes on the times that I am vacant. So I need to remain online during those times. But on the weekends, I have my Saturday break and will have the class on Sundays from 9:30 am till evening.
When I started my classes, I started it with greetings of “good evening” or “good morning”. I would ask them if they have eaten their dinner or breakfast and how do they feel about their day. So after asking them several personal questions, I would ask them if they are ready for the lesson and so we begin with the books that they use.
We use PDF books that the company provides and will discuss it until we finish the time given which is 50 minutes per student. Before we end the class, I would ask the student again if he/she did understand the lesson, or if he/she have something to ask before we say good bye. If they say none, I do say good bye and will see again the student on the next class that we will be having.
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My current company is based on the West Coast, but I live on the East Coast. There is a 3-hour time difference between us, so I generally have about 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time before the rest of the company really comes online every morning.
So, my days tend to get split up into a few different parts.
First, I start by reviewing PRs or code checked in from the day before. This helps me get up to speed with what is different or what is being worked on, and lets me kind of get back in the programming mindset.
Pretty soon after that, I start the main "programming" part of the day, where I generally have a single focus, one problem, or one part of the code that I need to work on.
Because of the time difference, both of these parts almost always fall during the time when I don't need to worry about interruptions from the rest of my team.
I'm free to really focus on the problem in front of me. Sometimes I'll purposely take myself offline, if I really need to avoid distractions.
The next chunk is normally the "meetings" part of my day, where I spend time talking with coworkers, having meetings, discussing problems and solutions, talking about timelines, and overall just communicating with others at the company.
The last part of my day is normally spent finishing up work from the morning and writing documentation, tests, small scripts, or fixing more trivial bugs.
This also doubles as my "wind down" from the day, so I pick easier or less "intense" things to work on, and try to pick things that can be easily interrupted and restarted.
I will also often set up the problem or task I'll be working on the next day, so that after I'm done doing PR review, I can jump right into it.
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My work routine is usually dictated by my clients. The majority of my clients are from the US, the UK, Europe, and Australia. So, time zone differences can be a bit of a challenge at times. If it is an Australian client, then I usually wake up early to attend phone calls and slack/Skype chat sessions. If it is a client from the US, then late nights are the norm.
However, I do try to follow a specific routine to help me get through the day (and night!):
The above routine is what I follow on an ideal day. However, in the event of client requests for a call or a Skype chat, I obviously must be flexible. There were instances during the early days of my career when I used to go to sleep at 2:00 AM my time to attend client phone calls. However, over the last year or so, I’ve put my foot down and told my clients that I will not be available from midnight my time to 6 AM my time, unless there is a dire emergency.
Most of my clients have been very understanding and have been more than willing to accommodate my request for an alternate time for a phone call.
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I have a quite strict work routine that I developed and really helps me stay focused. I get up at 8 am every day, check Twitter, have some tea and start working at around 9 am.
On Mondays, I basically start my day with a weekly sync call at 10 am where we talk about what was done the week before, what are the plans for the coming week.
I usually take a long lunch around 1 pm, I almost always go out for lunch, for a change of scenery, so I do not spend the whole day at home.
The advantage of working from home and having a flexible schedule is that I can go for lunch basically anywhere I want, I am not constrained to a specific area around the office.
I stop working around 5 pm or 6 pm, depending on the workload. I turn off the computer, leave the room and switch context.
I usually go for a walk to clear my head and catch up on podcasts. Once or twice a week I go for a swim after work hours.
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Because our company is run on East Coast time and I live in Vegas, I wake up bright and early to be at my desk at 6am.
I didn't think I was going to enjoy being up so early, but it didn't take long to adjust. By now, being up before 6am is pretty easy, and I love getting off work in the early afternoon.
When I get to my desk, the first 30-45 minutes is always consumed by email catch-up from the night before and checking stats across a handful of platforms. I then like to prep for any client calls that I have that day. The rest of the day lives and dies by my calendar.
Managing my calendar has been one of the most productive things I've done in a long time. On Friday afternoons, I have a 30-minute block of time set aside to fill in my calendar for the next week. I put in placeholders for chunks of development time, client follow-ups, admin tasks, and even lunches.
This allows me to be more in control of my week, and I don't find myself looking at a blank page wondering what to do next.
The added benefit of filling out my calendar ahead of time is that other team members can't fill up my day with meetings - or schedule a meeting at a time that would disrupt my focused development time.
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I start my workday at 9:00 AM and sometimes attend a pre-work call with some colleagues where we discuss the topic of Growth both in our personal lives as well as professional.
My actual to-do list for any given day is pretty dynamic; one day I may be heads-down in Sketch designing website components for projects or interviewing clients and the next day partnering with our Sales and Marketing teams to create graphics or marketing initiatives for our company. I also help fill-in as a Frontend Engineer on projects as needed.
All of this helps keep things fresh for me and prevents me from getting burned out filling like I'm stuck in a single routine.
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Since at the moment I'm a master student, I can work remotely only part-time.
Most of my contracts are short-time (completed within one week). So I have to keep on finding new jobs (recently I'm quite free).
I would review the new job posts on Upwork frequently and apply using my fragment time. Typically I'll do the work in the evenings of my timezone (if it is not urgent) and also two whole days in weekends (if I'm free).
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One of the biggest reasons I chose to work freelance is because of my health.
I have fibromyalgia, so I need to sleep a lot to minimize flare-ups, which really reduces my effective working hours. I also am quite mentally “foggy” and not at my best for the first few hours of my day. Some days I can’t get as much done as I would like. I’ve always pushed myself too hard and ignored warning signs until my body essentially shut down and forced me to stop working (I ended up on a leave of absence in 2016).
This all means I’ve been learning the importance of listening to my body and allowing my schedule/routines to be flexible and based around how I’m feeling. It’s a delicate balance because in order to get anything done I can’t rely much on motivation (I also have ADHD and depression) and need to push myself at least a little bit to do things when I don’t feel up to it. But as I mentioned, I have a history of pushing myself way too hard and suffering the consequences afterwards.
With all that said, my typical work day starts at some point in the afternoon after I’ve had a few hours to fully wake up. I usually start off by going over my schedule for the week and any approaching deadlines. I try to schedule as much as I can ahead of time so that I’m never doing anything at the last minute.
Even though I work well under pressure, I never know when I’ll have a flare-up or migraine which renders me totally unable to do anything, let alone write coherently. I also like to look for new clients in the early part of my work day, since it doesn’t require much thinking.
Sometimes I write my burn drafts earlier in the day if I’m not struggling to find words, but for the most part I leave the actual writing for the later hours. Any time I try writing too soon, I end up making stupid mistakes, or it takes me forever to write anything because the “fogginess” affects my vocabulary and creativity. I’ve always been a night owl and am the most creative and productive at night so that’s when I like to write.
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I do have to mention that even though being a freelancer has a lot of advantages, in order to have a healthy work routine, there is need for a strong work ethic and a balanced timetable.
I often tend to work until very late and get stuck in a chaotic timetable (maybe also because I’m doing a creative job).
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