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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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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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 prefer not to work from home, as I get distracted easily. I also enjoy being able to turn off and separate home from work.
I'm part of a coworking space in Boston called Workbar. They have a number of locations around the city. One location is accessible via a secluded bike trail, so if the weather's nice I'll bike to work. Otherwise, I'll take the train to a downtown location.
I try to get my day started early. As much as I can, I devote Mondays to phone calls, errands, and other small tasks that tend to pile up during the week. For the rest of the week, I try to focus on deeper tasks like programming or writing.
On Fridays, I'll tend to work out of coffee shops around the city, just because I can.
I try to start my day with my most important personal task, which is writing. Otherwise, I find that consulting work or other tasks tend to box it out.
As much as possible, I try to combine similar tasks together. I use NotePlan (a markdown to-do editor) to track my tasks.
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Start my day with a cup of Joe and the newspaper. Yes, the printed edition of the local newspaper. Then, I head to Orangetheory for my 7 am workout and a little socializing.
Bursting with energy and feeling great knowing I got my exercise done for the day, I go home and get right to work. (After a shower, of course.)
The first things I do are the hardest tasks and those with the earliest deadlines. I'll take a mid-day break to walk Melody and Carrie, the furry company mascots. I save the less challenging tasks for the afternoon.
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I am a very structured person when it comes to my routine. When I first started working remotely, I didn't have much of a method and I often felt flustered.
I've come to realize that I really thrive with structure and a daily routine.
I typically start working at 6 am and usually do some editing work from 6-7 am. After that, I usually teach a few classes from 7-10 am or so.
Next, I work on a content related project for an hour or two and then break for lunch. Lunch is usually an hour, and I try to take a short walk for some exercise and to get out of the house.
In the afternoon, I make a second cup of coffee, and I continue with my content work (podcast editing, writing blog posts, articles, or newsletters). I usually reserve the late afternoon for less strenuous work like meetings, calls, email, and so forth.
To stay on schedule, I use a paper planner, and I schedule out each hour of my day the day before. That way, when I sit down at 6 am, I know exactly what to work on. I also try to keep my phone on airplane mode for 80 percent of the day, and I only check email 1-2 times a day, which has allowed me to be so much more productive!
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I start the day by checking my emails and Upwork messages. I will respond to most of the messages from my phone for general queries clients or potential clients might have. After completing my morning routine, I will respond to messages from clients regarding on-going projects and then respond to any interview request on Upwork.
I then check my to-do list to see what I have planned for the day. I usually start by the project with the most critical deadline. Sometimes I complete most of my tasks in the morning and I am left with a few hours before getting messages from client because of the timezone. Mauritius is about 8-12 hours ahead of the US and 2-3 hours ahead of Europe.
I use these few hours for my hobbies; cooking, reading, sewing.
I try to complete all my projects as soon as possible and if I receive feedback for changes, I make sure to amend my design within the next few hours.
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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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My wife and I have 3 school aged kids, so my routine mainly revolves around their schedules of going to and from school (although it's a bit more relaxed now for the summer).
Typically I'm up at 5:30 to make coffee for my wife and wake everyone else up. After making breakfast, we'll drop the kids off at school and start my day around 7:30. I'll work until noon, then after eating lunch try and sneak in a 30 minute bicycle ride. I'm back to work afterwards until it's time to start making dinner around 5:00, which my wife and I will alternate throughout the week. After doing the dishes and getting the kids to bed I'll spend a few more hours finishing up my day, typically until around 9:00.
My weekends follow the same general time schedule. Saturday I try and reserve for getting things done around the house. I'll use a few hours on Sunday to catch up on anything I may be behind on, or get a jump start on my new week.
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The last few months, I've been working hard at keeping to a more early wake up time. During the winter, I was rolling out of bed 10 minutes before work, grabbing something to eat, and settling in.
These days, I usually get up about an hour and half before work, sometimes the gym, most times not (I'm trying I swear). I'll grab a bite, then sort of dig through emails before I even really start work (it's sort of a warm up time to me actually being functionally working).
Depending on the week, I do code reviews, which might start as soon as the clock officially rolls over to 8AM where they are (I'm in the AST timezone, they're in CST).
Other than that, it's the usual messages from different members of their staff with questions and bugs and requests for queries, in between working on whatever my current contract task is. I usually pull about 3 -4 hours of work in the "morning", somewhere between a half hour and hour and a half for lunch, then another 3-4 hours (most times I stop working around the same time their offices start shutting down, because the people I might need answers from leave).
I generally match their 8-5, and on American holidays I get less work done, either because I'm feeling less motivated, or because I need someone to answer a question. I don't usually take time off for Canadian holidays, because time off is money not made.
I've never been much for vacations, so I don't really block more than a day off here and there (except for maybe a 3-5 day stretch somewhere in the middle of summer, and of course Christmas and New Years).
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