Monday, May 14, 2018

Organization Tip of the Week: Shifting your 9-5 grind

"Tumble outta bed and I stumble to the kitchen
Pour myself a cup of ambition
Yawn and stretch and try to come to life
Jump in the shower and the blood starts pumpin'
Out on the street the traffic starts jumpin'
With the folks like me on the job from 9 to 5"
In the immortal words of Dolly Parton.... what a way to make a livin'!
But the truth is, that the days of clocking in at 9 and clocking out at 5 are disappearing. 
In the past 10-15 years, the discussion of how our tech means our work can come home with us has begun shifting into a very different conversation; this conversation is less about the concern that we're working too much (though we arguable still are), but instead focuses on the flexibility that it can bring to our lives.
I respect that not everyone has this flexibility in their work day. Some people are very strictly 9-5, on shift work, or don't have the luxury that many do of working from home.
But more and more the business world is moving toward no-fixed-desks, work from home attitudes, and employers who want to see the work get done no matter where you are or when you do it.

With this shift in work-life balance where the two become more and more interconnected, I've developed a guideline on how to shift your 9-5 grind to maximize your output at work, and not overdo it on interrupting life.
And trust me: I learned these tips the hard way, and they have not only improved my sanity but allow me to have a positive outlook on my job (that place I spend 1/3 of my life!). So here are my...
Tips On Shifting Your 9-5 Grind To Work For You!
1) Make it an 8-4 grind: (or 7:30 - 3:30...) Get up early! it sucks for a little while but being able to leave early means more time to make a healthy dinner, get to the gym, and spend time with your loved ones. Also if you have to work a long day (and hey, that happens) "late" is just leaving at a standard time instead of really late into your evening
2) Work on the weekend: OKAY I know this goes against EVERYTHING everyone writes with regards to WLB... but hear me out: I would rather get in 3 hours of work on the weekend than grind late nights during the week. If you have to work the hours ANYWAY because it's a busy time at work, it can be more effective to spread them out.
I usually spend an hour or two on Sundays reviewing the previous week's tasks that are outstanding, preparing for my Monday and Tuesday meetings, and sending out a few emails that I need quick responses on early in the week. That organization leads to an easier Monday/Tuesday where I can actually get stuff done rather than doing frantic organizing between calls. And speaking of calls...
3) Try to book all your meetings in the morning, Tuesday - Thursday: If your job is anything like mine, your meeting schedule is totally insanity. I log probably 10-15 hours of meetings every week. That's a STANDARD amount of meetings for me. I do my best to keep Monday and Fridays mostly meeting free (maybe one on each day) and then to batch the rest on Tuesday - Thursday mornings.
I'm fresher in the morning, and it gives me the opportunity to immediately follow up tasks in the afternoon. This also means that with my afternoons meeting free, I have flexibility to take a proper lunch, hit the gym, or commute home early and work a few hours in the evening if I'm dealing with fatigue. 
4) Work out in the middle of the day: If you have the flexibility to get a work out in between meetings, do it. Or go for a mid day walk. You've got to fit this in to your hours worked, but it can be good to get away from your desk.
Giving yourself flexibility to do something else during those times when you have brain fog and then pick up work again later, is amazing for getting good work done. Just don't cheat your employer; work the hours and get it done!
5) Work from home 1 day a week: If you're allowed to work from home, do it. BUT start your day earlier, don't start at 9 (or 8! see #1!).
Sleep in a few extra minutes, have a good breakfast, and then start working at the time you would normally leave for work. This time is great for getting tasks ticked off before people get in for the day and start sending you other stuff to do.
The other benefit of working from home? Getting light chores done during the day. I like to get my laundry done on work from home days so it frees up my weekend time, or I'll book a lunch time dentist appointment, or drop my car off for service. By getting these chores done that don't require you to get too distracted, you can get a good day of work in and still get a few domestic things done. Plus at the end of the day (and work a FULL one) you're home AND your chores are done; the evening is all yours to enjoy!
I think so often when we're told this flexibility exists, we tend to think that it can't be true or that if we choose to make the most of it we'll be seen as a "bad employee"... and I'm not going to lie to you, sometimes bad employees will take advantage of this system (ruining it for the rest of us).
BUT HERE'S THE THING: If you're motivated, good at your job, and can be effective with a shifted schedule, your employers truly won't care where you work. Suddenly taking a working vacation becomes a real possibility. You'll find that working those long days during the week means leaving early on a Friday without anyone feeling resentful about it.
Be honest, be proactive. Have a dialogue with your employer about what flexibility means to you (and make sure they're good with it!) and give your job your all. Then say goodbye to your 9-5 grind and take off early to enjoy the LIFE side of that infamous balance.
Question: Do you work at a flexible office, or if you're self employed what hours do you like to work? Are you still in a situation where you work a strict schedule (and have you considered asking about flexibility?!) Let me know in the comments!
xxox - Laura