My 5-Hour Work Day - The First 30-Days

by Pat Hammond on Friday, July 12, 2019

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Photo email or e-mail from Simon Stratford on freeimages.com

 

Don't worry, I'm not going to do weekly updates, but now that I'm almost a third of the way through my 90-day trial I thought it was a good time to share how things are going so far. 

I'm not sure if I picked the best or worst time to try this system, but it's been eye-opening. At first glance, the number one challenge I've had continues to come from outside influences and I don't think there's much I can do about it.

Between article research and interviews, networking, and projects I spend a lot of time meeting people and some of those people are not always good about honoring other people's time. 

Week 1

The first week was fraught with challenges as two different meetings were canceled at the last minute. 

One person contacted me as I was walking out the door to meet them, but the second didn't call until I was already at the meeting place.  

The first one wasn't too much of an issue because I just moved something else into the timeslot, but the one who didn't call until I was already there cost me 3+ hours when I added travel time and time spent waiting until around for my next meeting.

Even worse, I went to the meeting place prepared for meetings and I didn't have my laptop or any of the other things I needed to work on anything else. 

Another monkey wrench was my husband taking an unplanned vacation day on my flex day. 

If I had known ahead of time I could have rearranged my schedule, but he decided at the last minute and I didn't find out until Friday night so instead of working my usual half a day on Saturday, I ended up spending the day with him.

Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the day off, but after Wednesday and Thursday's schedule went sideways, losing a third day hurt my productivity for the week. 

Week 2

The second week was better because I was more or less able to stay on task. It took some effort and strict adherence to my daily plan, but I was able to recover from the previous week's challenges and keep current on deadlines and projects. 

If I had to define one specific pain point, it would have to be email.

As much as I rely on it, email can be a giant time bandit.

Unless I'm working on something that requires I respond right away, I only check email at set points three times a day. 

One of last week's projects fell into a time-sensitive category and as there were multiple people involved the volume of emails seemed to grow exponentially each day. 

I stuck to my schedule as much as possible, but I still ended up spending more time than was necessary reading and responding to email. 

Week 3

This week was almost identical to last week. 

I had a couple of deadlines, a lot of emails, a few meetings, and at least one canceled meeting.

By the time the email situation was resolved, I had another potential crisis lined up to replace it, but I am optimistic about being able to stay ahead of the situation and keep things moving forward. 

Wrap Up

I'm not sure if there's any value in giving a detailed outline of my framework and daily routines. My system is very fluid based on what I'm working on at the time, and while it follows a standard routine, it's not a program that will work for everyone. 

Looking ahead to the next few weeks, I'm coming up on another Flackery deadline and I've got some other deadlines on the horizon that may require me spending more than five hours a day at the office. 

I've been able to stay on task and recover each time something out of my control interrupted the routine. And the fact that all of my challenges have come from external forces rather than an inability to keep up with work tells me that the system is working so far. 

As I said last week, I'll see how things play out the closer I get to my busy time in September, but today, at the 30-day mark, I am still cautiously optimistic. 

Pat Hammond

Director, NH Business Guild

pat@nhbusinessguild.com