When I scroll through my past scribbles on Elise & Thomas, I realize how far we have come, both professionally and as a couple. Whilst I do whine excessively on productivity and lack thereof, I do understand how privileged I am. Elise and I don’t have normal jobs, we don’t have a mortgage, and yet we own our own home. For a young married couple, we have come pretty far. Nonetheless, whilst some may look at us and think we have it easy (both in terms of our life and our job), the reality is that, like everything else, our life and job come with a set of unique challenges.
Elise is literally always with me; not out of necessity, out of choice. We have been together every single day since February 2011, and have not slept apart since a few months after that. There haven’t been many instances where we’ll even leave the house separately. This is the best thing about my life, but from a work perspective, it makes it really easy for me to get distracted. The temptation to lie in bed with my wife and watch a movie (mind out of the gutter guys, not where I was going with that!) is ever-present when thinking about having to do what I consider to be more annoying aspects of my work (bureaucracy, accounting, and general paperwork – the worst). As I write this, I have yet to input my deductibles from March (when we opened the company in the UK) to this day; not the end of the world, as I have a few months to get that done, but I find it so easy to feel overwhelmed with all the little things and become disparaged – which leads to extreme procrastination.
I have been musing about this for many months with Elise. After so many experiments (GTD/Todoist/structure through software, etc.) it came down to accepting my very real limitations in terms of time and acknowledging that some stuff on my to do lists will not get done within a day.
Here’s a bit of what I learned;
While it may feel like I have the whole day to work (technically I guess we all do), I shouldn’t be using the whole day to do work. I should have dedicated times that make it so that I can work within those hours and switch off at others.
I also shouldn’t segue my life like I was working a 9-5. Why? I don’t need that much time dedicated to work. In a traditional working structure, you have productive days and unproductive days; the beauty of being a blogger is that you have no boss and no schedule. If I feel like I’m going to have an unproductive day and just am not going to get enough done, that’s fine – I don’t need to drag on my time “working” just for the sake of logging hours – I have no one I need to impress with that log.
Furthermore, it simply makes me more productive when I am not obsessing over getting x, y, & z done within the day.
So here’s my new plan;
From midday to 3 pm, I’ve decided I will have a solid 3 hours a day of work (with zero distractions – looking at you Reddit!). After that, I can arbitrarily decide my work day is over and focus on life and living, or if I’m on a roll, continue on until I’m done. But after that 3 hours, I’ve put in dues, I’m satisfied with my attempt to work.
Productivity doesn’t mean doing lots of boring work things, but rather using your time optimally for productive results, and hopefully limiting my time to 3 hours of work a day will make me really hustle.
Increasing productivity can mean going to the beach everyday for a pleasant stroll or sitting down to some cider with Elise and discussing our favourite Youtubers. Why? It gives me the mental breaks I feel I never get working from home and on the net, which can in turn increase my productivity because it allows me to feel refreshed enough to get lots done when I finally do start up work again.
If I set myself 3 hours to “power work,” I will be able to push myself to have optimal productivity for 3 hours a day. And again, if I use that time to work well, I will not feel guilty over spending the rest of my hours as I wish. Because this process to me is just as productive as aimlessly staring at a screen for 8 hours a day, hoping I’ll get something more done off my never-ending lists, and yet being so stressed out and worried about the work I have to do that I end up pushing it off and feeling guilty about pushing it off to do another day.
I’ll probably get the same amount of work done. But with less guilt. More time to myself. More overall happiness. Hell, maybe I’ll even be more productive this way. But even if I’m not, at least I’m living my life in the process.
Either way, this system should eliminate a lot of the mental revving up (psyching yourself up to do your work) and psychological warfare (over the guilt of not doing enough) that comes from working for yourself and from home.
Damn good system. I wish I came up with it, but my curvier other half did. I married well.