Mindfully Scheduling Your Day For Extra Productivity and Growth

Last week we talked about the importance of having blocks of time in the day dedicated to certain kinds of work in Schedule Your Day-To-Day With a Freelancer Timetable. Today we’re going to be looking at two different kinds of work, and why it matters when you do them.

Proactive vs. Reactive

Checking your email = reactive

Composing an email to that client lead that intimidates the crap out of you = proactive

Reactive work is essentially the status quo. Proactive work is the stuff that’s going to make your business grow (I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it). That doesn’t have to mean bigger revenue of anything, it just means moving in the direction that you want. Maybe you want bigger paying jobs so you have to take less on and work less days in a week. The point is your goals.

In a lot of cases you might find yourself saying “there’s nothing I can do right now. I’m waiting for (blank).” Even if this is completely true, there is one question you should be constantly asking yourself:

What are you doing to prepare for the opportunities of the future?

I find that just hearing that phrase causes me to re-frame my situation and come up with new tasks and goals related to the growth of my business. Proactive.


The Early Bird Gets The Productivity

Now on to mindfully scheduling your day for extra productivity! The typical work day routine involves starting with checking email, responding to questions, following up on current jobs that demand your attention, taking care of errands like bills, etc. It’s all this stuff that is pulling at you, saying “look at me! I’m important”. This is the nature of reactive work, it draws away from you, and your talents, goals, etc.

The usual plan of “I’ll get the tedious has to be done work out of the way first, then later I’ll get to my business expansion” FAILS.

Why? The truth is that you’re most primed for doing the creative and proactive work early on in the day. By putting it off you are doing yourself a disservice. Strike a balance of course. I’m not suggesting you neglect past problems or clients. It becomes about mindfulness.


Mindfully pull focus from the Reactive to the Proactive

For example, in my own work timetable I have CONTACT pretty early on. That does involve some modicum of responding to emails. The focus however, is on developing NEW contacts, because having moved to Calgary recently my network is not what it used to be.

Chase Jarvis in this CreativeLive talk with photographer Joey L said (paraphrase):

The things that scare you – that thing that keeps you up at night – should be the first thing you do. Send that email even if you’re afraid of getting rejected. You’ll be better for it either way.

Stop The Procrastination Early

Speaking of fear – that’s a key factor for most cases of procrastination. Whatever the cause, you’re likely aware of what things you procrastinate. Schedule them early and take them on when you have the most energy. This might not be at 8:00 am sharp, but maybe 9 or 10 am. Play to your strengths.

Work In Cycles

to stay productive all day long I use the Pomodoro Technique to monitor my work cycles. 25 minutes on, then 5 minute break (after three there is a long break of 15 minutes). The break can actually be difficult to do. Sometimes you’re in the zone and you want to ignore it (you’re doing productive work, right?) but without the break I find I lose focus eventually, but stay stuck on that one task. The break is good for mindfulness of priorities and also physically and mentally rejuvenating.

Besides the Pomodoro Technique website, there are lots of other good Pomodoro resources, like iPhone and Android apps. I use this one. It’s free! Pomodoro Timer Lite Android App.

What are your plans to change your day-to-day schedule?

Comments and questions below are much appreciated!


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Bryan can most often be found taking photographs for his commercial studio Cooper & O'Hara, but he also has a passion for cooking, zoology, travel, science, entertainment, design, and creativity in general. Email Me