EP12 – How to Structure Your Work Day

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Working as a Part-Time Entrepreneur

While I was working part-time as an Entrepreneur and full-time as a senior software engineer, I created my blog and starting filling it with content on a fairly regular schedule. While I was doing this, I knew that the content I was putting in the blog would later be re-purposed into an eBook.

I’m not a morning person, at least I wasn’t when I was working for someone else. So this meant that I had no drive at all to do any work in the morning. I didn’t try to get up earlier, as the thought of waking up at 5am was just dreadful to me. I did my work at night. Here’s what my schedule looked like:

  1. get home from work
  2. eat dinner (thanks to GF at the time)
  3. Work (6:30pm -> 9:30pm)
    • create content -> write blog posts, syndicate content
    • I had the end in mind, as blog posts would be turned into eBook
  4. Weekends were more or less an entire sprint of business work

If there were any sort of engagements on the weekends or social activities at all, I would get upset. I saw anything outside of business as a hindrance. I still struggle with this today, but this kind of thought pattern is quite common for entrepreneurs.

The key to the work schedule that I maintained is consistency. Just show up and take action every day (even if it’s only 30 minutes) it will make a huge impact on your journey. Every successful entrepreneur will say that you need to take action to reach your goals.

Two parts action, one part learning.

Most of your endeavours will fail, but that’s what the journey is all about. Fail often and fail fast, you’ll get to success faster this way.

Dealing with Fatigue

Passion! This is how I dealt with fatigue of working those 12-16 hour days.

I wanted it so bad.

My goal when working full-time was to quit, which sounds bad because I loved my job. But I wanted to be an “entrepreneur” SO badly. I wanted to call myself an entrepreneur. I called myself a software engineer for quite a while after I quit my job, which is strange, but I didn’t feel like I “earned” the title of “entrepreneur.”

One experiment I did when I worked full-time to “fuel” my passion to quit my job was something I learned in the The 4-Hour Workweek book.

I put up a simple sales page for my eBook that I was still writing, and put a “Buy Now” button on that page. Then I paid for some ads (via Facebook) to drive traffic to this sales page, and I tracked how many people clicked on that “Buy Now” button. If they clicked on it, I would just show a popup (or another page) saying that the book wasn’t finished yet, but to provide me with an email address so I could inform them when the book was indeed complete.

Note: I wouldn’t recommend doing this the way I did it, as I got really excited by the results. It wasn’t until later that I learned that just because people click the “Buy” button, doesn’t mean they’re actually GOING to buy. I think only 10% of the people who clicked that button actually purchased the book once it was released.

Saving Time with Food

Let’s face it, we’ve all got to eat if we want to stay in business.

Preparing meals and/or eating healthy is never a “quick” task. Here’s some tips that can help you save time in this one important recurring aspect of your schedule.

Preparing Food in Bulk

Cook everything on Saturday or Sunday and freeze it. Think about it… it takes about as much time to cook 7 portions of a meal as it does to cook 1 portion. So why are you wasting time cooking your meals every day? My fiancĂ©e and I tend to cook our meals in bulk on Sundays: soups, spaghetti sauce, chilli, you name it.

It’s a huge time saver and this also helps to ensure that we’re eating healthy foods. Ordering take-out every day is bloody expensive and typically not great for your long-term health.

Remember that the goal of entrepreneurship isn’t to end up rich and fat. Health and wealth people!

Hiring a Personal Chef

This may seem like a dream come true, but there are companies that can provide food in bulk for you. The same concepts apply to them as it does to you. They can cook up a week’s worth of meals in more or less the same time it would take them to prepare a single day’s worth of food. So you can use this to your advantage and buy their services in bulk… especially if you have room-mates!

Alright, so you’re curious… your next question is likely going to be: “Where can I find someone to cook for me?”. The answer? Check Craigslist for these types of chefs / cooks / companies! I did it for my area and there were about 10 different posts for people in the Toronto, Canada area.

As far as prices go, Carter did a check in his area (Boulder, CO) and saw that it could be anywhere between $4-$7 per meal. Not too shabby!

So hey, try doing this for just one meal of the day, whether it’s lunch or dinner. I find that if I try something once, I much more likely to do it again and again. Just think of the time savings!

Working as a Full-Time Entrepreneur

I was so used to hustling every day in the evenings and on the weekends that when I made the transition to a full-time entrepreneur, those 3 hours a night I used to work now would expand to fill the typical 8 hour work day. I wasn’t expecting this to happen, and I’m not proud of admitting it, but that’s just what happened.

To address this issue, I’ve recently purchased a copy of “The Miracle Morning” (You can get a free copy of the audio book on Audible.com with a free trial) This book teaches you how to create a morning routine that will slay procrastination and help fuel productive days.

The problem I’m having with my morning routine as it stands right now is that I plan out my day while I’m showering that same morning. Most people with good habits plan out their days either the night before, or a week in advance.

Carter’s Routine

Carter used to listen to podcasts or audiobooks during his daily commute. He would even go so far as to take notes while driving (we do not recommend this approach of course).

Lately Carter has fully implemented his morning routine (check it out here) to get a jump-start to his day. He doesn’t often eat breakfast (bad Carter!) and instead opts for a smoothie or a piece of fruit to keep things quick in the morning.

He always asks one question while he’s looking over his TODO list:

What can I do today that will have the most impact?

As part of Carter’s obsession with time management, he’s also discovered that a certain 3-hour time-frame in his day yields a 3x return on his time investment. This means that he could work for 9 hours OUTSIDE this specific window and he’d get the same amount of work done.

Carter ensures that during this time-frame, he doesn’t schedule any calls or meetings that don’t relate to business. He doesn’t plan any chores or errands during that time either. He focuses on using that time to make the biggest impact on his business.

Also, there’s a 2-4pm time-frame that Carter has identified as a really poor return on his time investment. So he usually schedules this time to run those errands, takes a nap, or takes his dog for a walk, etc. Anything non-business related.

He has another work sprint through the evenings and then unwinds with a movie around 10pm.

A Quick Productivity Tip

Don’t check your email in the morning.

Emails in your inbox serve someone else’s schedule. These are distractions that other people are imposing upon you.

Even if you just LOOK at the email and don’t respond, your brain will still work in the background on all the things that you read.

Don’t waste your valuable brain power in the morning, don’t check your email!

The average person checks their email 37 times an hour

This is just teaching your brain to get used to interruptions. Don’t fall into this trap ladies and gentlemen!

Links Mentioned in this Episode

  1. Startup with Alex Blumberg
  2. The ONE Thing