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How do you get everything done? The secret is: I don’t (every day)

I don’t like waving the “Hey, look how busy I am!” flag.

And I won’t make the correlation between busy-ness and productivity. Example: right now I look hella busy on my laptop, but I’m actually chatting with a couple friends, finishing this and reading the latest gossip and trends on my Facebook news feed. Work hours begin later (obviously).

There is a middle ground in the conversation of, “Hey, I’m a busy worker bee doing lots of things all the time,” and “Hey, even though I’m busy, I’ll say I’m not so you don’t think I am and I look all sorts of chill even though I’m not.”

So this is me saying: Yeah, I’m busy. I do lots of things, sometimes too many of them (Read this post for proof), but I’m working on the balance.

Sweet balance. And because some of you asked, I thought I’d answer.

Here are some things I do (almost) every work day (and when you work for yourself this is basically every day):

  • Sleep for eight hours. I used to scoff at these kinds of people. The audacity to think the world could keep spinning while you sleep for EIGHT hours. But really, it can. So it’s to bed by 9 p.m. and up by 7 a.m. when the dogs demand their morning walk. I am a much happier person. The people around me are much happier too.
  • Walk with my dogs. For five or six days out of the week, I walk three to six miles with my dogs. Sometimes we walk in the neighborhood. Other days I load them up and we head to our favorite local walking trails, or we embark on longer exploratory hikes in area state parks. This is a place for my mind to wander at will, and it’s a significant part of maintaining my mental balance.
  • Drink two cups of coffee before 10 a.m. (No more two pots a day all day).

When it comes to my work load, here’s my biggest trick:

I don’t work on every project every day.

That would be crazy, especially when my current project-load rests at four – four equally important projects connected to four equally important clients that I care very much about.

On the outset, I assign certain days to certain projects. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are for these clients. Tuesdays and Thursdays belong to these. Of course there are exceptions, because they don’t know they’ve been assigned to a day, so sometimes my Monday/Wednesday client will email on a Tuesday, and I respond during business hours.

I also organize the shit out of my days, and I usually do this the night before the next day. I’ll write on a piece of scrap paper next to my computer: “SJN: morning hours. Memoir: afternoon hours.” Or sometimes I’ll put: “VBM: two hours. Memoir: two hours.”

This method saves me.

Case in point: I gave my entire Sunday to Project A, and when I got up from my desk, I noticed the list of things I’d written for Project B.


And I panicked. And I felt overwhelmed. And I felt like I needed to crawl in my nest.

But then.

I said to myself: “Don’t panic. This list isn’t news to you. You’ve budgeted time NEXT WEEK to accomplish those tasks. Today’s work is Project A. Move on.”

So I did.

Every day is not designed for every project. Be the boss of yourself that maybe you always wanted from someone else. The kind to say: “You’ve done enough for today. Go be a daughter.” And the kind to pick, choose, assign and stick to your guns. The kind to say, “We can’t take on anymore work right now” and the kind to say, “Meet this deadline.”

I’m OK with being busy.

I’m also OK with working myself just 4 hours a day during this interlude between semesters. And I’m OK with taking two days off and going on vacation.


The end.

Published in work


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