My (Not-So-)Typical Workday

Over the next two weeks, our co-founders will be sharing a behind the scenes look at typical day in the office! This week, our co-founder Lisa (who also runs the studio Elembee) is sharing why her everyday is far from typical…

I'm sure you've read a number of blog posts extolling the virtues of rising with the sun. These posts make mornings seem magical, and convince you that if you could just wake up an hour or two earlier, you would gain some special superpower that would help you get anything you'd ever want in life.

This is not one of those blog posts.

Last week, Victoria suggested sharing our typical workdays here on the blog, and I had to laugh at her timing — I had just read a tweet from someone complaining that day-in-the-life posts from fellow entrepreneurs always look a little too perfect, and a little too similar. Most people stick to the same schedule they had with a desk job, just with extra flexibility. And there's nothing wrong with that — after all, people wouldn't stick with it if it didn't work.

But there's also nothing wrong with doing something different. I have to admit, I struggled for a long time to find my own routine as I settled into the entrepreneur life, and I thought I just needed to try a little harder to make mornings work for me. I felt guilty when I slept too late, and I gave vague answers when people asked when I get out of bed in the morning.

Then, I decided to embrace my natural tendencies and structure my day around what felt best for me, and not what others told me I should do. After all, I started my business because I didn't want to live under someone else's rules — so why was I still letting others dictate my schedule? With that in mind, here's what my (not-so-)typical workday looks like right now:

10-11ish: The dogs start to stir, getting antsy for their morning outside time and breakfast. My fiancé has an easier time getting out of bed in the morning, so he usually lets them out and feeds them. The noise serves as my alarm, though we do sometimes use the Echo Dot if we've been going to bed and waking up later than usual. I could easily sleep until the afternoon, but 10-11 is the sweet spot I like to stay in, otherwise I feel like I've missed too much daylight. If I do naturally wake up earlier, I'll roll with it, but I don't beat myself up if I'm still in bed at 11.

I like to stay in bed for a good 15-20 minutes at least, stretching and browsing my phone. I'll admit that browsing my phone first thing is a terrible habit I'd like to break, because all I'm really doing is browsing meaningless content on social media and reading emails I have no intention to answer until I'm at my desk anyway. I just like easing my way out of bed — I think I'll make more of an effort to reach for my Kindle instead.

11-noon: Coffee, breakfast, and light work. It can be the coldest day of winter, and I'm still drinking cold brew that I make in my Takeya Pitcher. I bring it to my desk and start planning out my day and week in Todoist, then answer any messages in Slack and run through my inbox for emails I can answer quickly.

My work uniform is loungewear, and I'm not mad about it. Some say you're more productive if you dress the part, but I like having one less decision to make in the morning, and I like being totally comfortable. My office is in its own room, and I try to stay away from my desk when I'm not working, so simply sitting at my desk is enough to put me in work mode, without dressing the part.

Afternoon: I settle into work and focus for a few hours. I usually set a top priority for each day, one task that I definitely want to complete that day, and try to complete it during this time. I tend to struggle more with focus in the first work session of my day than I do later on in the day, so if I find I'm not making enough progress on my list, I'll switch to an easy win — something quick and easy I can knock off my to-do list to get some momentum. If I have a bigger project on my list, I'll break it down into subtasks that can be done more quickly so I can actually see the progress I'm making.

Break time: I tend to need a break around 3-4, so I'll step away from my computer. Sometimes I'll run errands to avoid shopping at peak times, in which case I'll take a break a little earlier. I either save this for days when I have less on my to-do list, or I work later on those days. I also try to schedule all of my errands for one afternoon so I can focus on work the rest of the week. Otherwise I'll grab a snack and/or take a shower. I love midday showers for a lot of reasons — they are energizing, and I often solve problems or get my best ideas in the shower. I also love to throw on a mask pre-shower for a bit of midday pampering.

Early evening: Time for another work session! I tend to be most productive before dinner. This is when I really get in a groove with bigger projects. I'll put my Todoist view on the specific project I'm working on rather than my Today view, so I'm not distracted by other tasks, and I'll work my way down the list of subtasks with a podcast, playlist, or Netflix as background noise. Just before dinner, I'll revisit my Today list and respond to longer emails in my inbox.

Dinner: We usually eat dinner around 6:30-7:30. My fiancé is also works from home, and he tends to be more productive earlier in the afternoon. We make a meal plan at the beginning of each week, and he usually gets started on dinner prep while I finish up work, then we'll finish cooking together. If I'm lucky that day, he'll handle everything for dinner. And if I'm really lucky, I'll convince him to order queso for delivery. We watch an episode of whatever show we're on (currently Lost in Space on Netflix).

After dinner: What I do after dinner just depends on how I'm feeling, how my fiancé is feeling, the time of year, and if work is busy. Sometimes my fiancé and I will keep watching our show or choose a movie, or sometimes we'll go to the movie theater for discount day. Sometimes we'll each do our own thing — he'll play video games, and I'll snuggle with my dog and watch TV (currently binging The White Princess), read (currently reading The Hundredth Queen trilogy), or play piano. If work is busy, or I'm just really feeling productive, I'll work for a couple hours after dinner — those hours can be my most productive. Now that it's summer, work tends to slow down, and we like to go swimming in the evenings. In the fall and winter, I definitely tend to work more in the evenings. We typically wind down for bed a little after midnight, with lights out by 1 or so.

Overall, my day looks pretty similar to early risers, it just starts and ends later. And of course, I take advantage of a few little indulgences that working from home allows, like working in loungewear, taking midday showers, running midday errands, and spoiling my dogs with lots of belly rubs. The tradeoff is that sometimes I'm working when others are not — and that's a tradeoff I'm happy to live with. Ultimately, the best routine is the one that works for you and keeps you happy and productive.



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