Last time we talked about protecting your schedule and how we can plan ahead looking at a broad calendar. Today, let's delve a little deeper with a look into my daily schedule and personal attempt at time management* (read: lessons learned after infinite failed attempts which will likely be irrelevant in one month's time due to the ever-changing schedule and preferences of a toddler).
My days are categorized as "Work Days" or "Home Days" -- I have the luxury of choosing which and how many days Ruth will attend daycare each week. Most weeks she goes at least two days 8:30-5:30pm and I can't stress the importance and value of a long, uninterrupted stretch of time to focus and get things done. I know these daycare days at least a week in advance and assign tasks for each workday ahead of time.*
Here's a breakdown of most work-days :
Wake Up (congratulations, the hardest part of your day is behind you.)
Quiet 15 Minutes 7am | use for yoga, prayer, reading, etc. not work. I personally recommend getting out of bed or chances are, in ten minutes you start back at #1… Goal : to allow your body and mind to wake up and enter a healthy place before beginning your day.
Baby Wakes Up 7:30 | this portion of the morning is dedicated to play, breakfast, getting ready, etc. Again, no work allowed (not even checking email - once it's on your brain you'll be disconnected from kiddo-time). Goal : quality time with Ruth.
Drop-off Babe 8:30 | If I have important errands I'll complete those while I'm out and avoid interrupting a (potentially) successful grove later in the day.
If it's a shoot day, I'll head to my location. If it's a home-work day, I head back home, brew a second cup of coffee and set to work on my list. A few suggestions to maximizing those precious work hours :
Clump similar tasks. i.e. edit in the morning, scheduled break for email, errands in the afternoon, submissions late afternoon, package all albums/prints/mail.
Take breaks - set alarm reminders if need-be. Your work quality, attitude and creativity are better when you take breaks. Go for a walk, do some yoga (this is my favorite yoga routine during a long day of sitting), eat healthy, take a power nap/shower/run.
Be creative. I'm quick to forget why I own my own business in the midst of frustrating paperwork and necessary accounting or tweaking a stubborn white balance. Take a moment to step away and shoot for 15 minutes or flip through that old art history book for a healthy dose of inspiration. This one is hard to do because you can't necessarily measure the results and that's important when the child-free clock is ticking and you only have so many hours to get things done. You can read more about the importance of creating for creating's sake here.
Pick up Babe 5:30pm | Play, supper and bed time - save for the occasional urgent deadline, try to remain unconnected at this time. Sometimes we both need a break - she from a full day of fun and stimulation and me from processing/problem solving. She'll often decompress and play by herself while I do the same preparing supper or we'll do a wind-down activity like play-dough or coloring.
Baby to Bed 7:30 | Each evening of the week looks different for us. If Ben is home in time for supper, we devote the rest of the evening to hanging out. If not, I typically tidy up and make preparations for the next day or perhaps put in an extra hour of work if the following day is a play-day. Just because the time is available to work, doesn't mean that's always the right choice. Remember that rest is so important and again, crucial to your health and quality of work.
all images taken with VSCOcam in the Angeles National Forest
*I can't stress how valuable it is to have a long stretch of time in order to get work done. When we lived in Ohio I would "child-swap" with a close friend two days a week which gave both of our kiddos some play time and the mamas the aforementioned chunk of focus-time. This is a super option if you need more flexibility or can't commit to a daycare just yet. When you allow yourself this structured work time, you're freeing up your mind and body to be fully present when you're with your baby.