Staying productive and organized can be a challenge when your schedule isn’t’ a traditional 9-5. Here are 5 Ways to Stay Productive When You Have a Flexible Schedule.
Work. I’ve loved working since I was a kid. Lemonade stands, craft fairs, babysitting, working at my grandfather’s hydrangea nursery. I’ve always had this drive to earn dat cash. I’m tremendously grateful to my family who taught me young, the value of earning your own way. Growing up, I always had a summer job and through college I worked three different part time jobs.
It wasn’t until I graduated, that I had my first real 9-5 office job. The stability was nice, but overtime I realized working for a large company was never in the cards for me. In the end, I knew I was meant to work with small businesses and hopefully start my own.
Fast forward to early 2016 when I starting working as a barista and doing marketing for a coffee shop, while I blogged on the side. While I still racked up an average of 35-40 hours a week it certainly wasn’t 9-5.
Working a non-traditional schedule, especially when you have a side hustle is a blessing and a curse. It’s amazing because you can be more flexible and in control of your time. But, it can be difficult to find focus when you don’t have a “normal” daily routine. When you have a flexible work schedule, you have to find that sweet spot between routine and spontaneity. In there, lies some creative magic.
I’ve gone through a lot of ups and downs this year, trying to find what really works for me. This will probably continue to change but I’ve distilled 5 strategies that have made a big impact in my focus and productivity when everyday is different.
If you’re someone who works non-traditional hours or with a changing schedule and you want to be more productive with your time, this post is for you.
5 Ways to Stay Productive When You Have a Flexible Schedule
1.) Find a Planner You Love
Hobbies include: jammin’ on my planner (shout out to Leslie Knope). But seriously. Having a good planner helps me keep my life from crumbling between my finger tips. Find a planner that fits your lifestyle. Maybe you’re a tech wiz and love the reminders you get with google calendars. Maybe you kick it old school and the act of writing things down helps you remember.
My planner is my bible and my life line. I keep everything from my work schedule to my blog content calendar to sponsored post dates to my monthly goals all in one place.
The calendar I use is the 17 month agenda from ban.do
2.) Take Time Every Week to Map Out the Next Week
I get my new work schedule every Sunday. That afternoon I plan out what needs to get done that week and when each item will get done. Taking time to visualize the week, how it will play out and what your priorities are, will help you get them all done.
I’ve learned the hard way that the easiest way to waste time is when you’re not sure what you should be doing. I’ve spent hours aimlessly multitasking when my goal and focus isn’t crystal clear.
Now, I’ve started going over what I need to get done every day in the morning or before bed. That way there’s no questions about what I’m doing or what resources I’ll need that day.
3.) Make Detailed, Numbered to-do Lists
Let’s all praise the to-do list. As a visual person, it helps me enormously when I can see everything that needs to get done, all on one sheet of paper. The act of writing of the to-do list is beneficial. Not to mention, it feels like you can finally think clearly without having to hold dates and tasks in your head.
Numbering my to-do’s by the order they need to get done has really helped me get crystal clear focused on what I need to do next. I’m not allowed to start a new item until the previous is completed. I find that often I get through 90% of a task and forget to finish it. This way, every item is prioritized and I’m not wasting time or energy trying to figure out what comes next when I’m in the zone.
4.) Have Go-to Long and Short Morning Routines
When your work schedule isn’t fixed, often that means coming in at very different times of the day. For a long time, I used to open, which meant being at work by 6:15am. Now, most of the time I don’t come in until 1pm.
I found that when I was used to opening, then switched to the afternoon shift, I would waste a lot more time in the morning because I wasn’t used to having that time. Now I have a go-to routine for whether I have the whole morning to work on my own projects versus a routine when I have to get right to the coffee shop. These two go-to routines allow me to make the most of my own time when I’m not working versus getting caught up not knowing how to use the time wisely.
5.) Embrace the Change and Flexibility
If you’re the kind of person who enjoys having control over their own time, a flexible schedule can be a wonderful thing. However it doesn’t mean that you can’t find any routine at all. For a long time I felt like I was a slave to my schedule and let it run my day. Now, when I prepare ahead of time, and make daily and weekly goals, I’m able to use the flexibility to my advantage.
Don’t be afraid to schedule in some time when you’re not at work to enjoy the fact you don’t have traditional hours. That means, grocery shopping at 9am when no one is there. Taking that noon yoga class that you’d otherwise never been able to fit in. Acknowledge the challenge but be grateful for the opportunity to go against the grain a little.
- Are you 9-5 or do you have a changing schedule?
- What’s a part of your routine that helps you stay productive?