You know the feeling when you have been working the whole day but you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything?
The last hour of your work day is running and you feel bad that you have been lazy all day and you definitely don’t have any energy to start working with a new project at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The day hasn’t been boring in any way but you don’t even know how you have spent the last 7 hours, it’s just passed. Yeah, you’ve done a few social media updates, joined a meeting, organized your calendar for next week and prepared the presentation for next Monday. But you still have the feeling that you have been just wandering around the whole day without accomplishing anything special.
I think and hope this happens to almost everyone of us once in a while.
How much should you get done in one day? How do you estimate when you have been working enough for one day? Who tells you when to stop?
Especially if your working hours are not monitored by your employer every day, you are probably familiar with this situation. I have extremely flexible hours and can most of the time choose myself if I want to work at the office, at home, in a cafe or in a bubble bath. Sometimes I work exactly 7,5 hours per day, sometimes much less and sometimes a lot more. Sometimes weekdays and weekends mix up. When you are not obligated to be at the office from 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 it is much up to your morals and conscience to estimate when have you done enough for one day.
I have tried the regulated 9 to 5 style before. Yeah, it is easier to define how long you need to work each day and it is easier to separate your free time and work hours. But it also means you need to sit at your desk from 9 to 5 even if you don’t have anything to do. Anything at all. You know that next week you will have a million things to do but you can’t do anything at the moment so you are just waiting. Scrolling your Facebook page up and down looking over your shoulder that you would not get caught red-handed by your colleagues.
Today I have held a webinar training for 50 people about employee onboarding, written a full blog post, posted some updates on social media and I surprisingly still have a couple of powerful hours left. I think I can be quite happy with myself today.
You can’t always be in your most productive state. We are humans. We need time to recover and bounce back.
The freedom of choice has made me realise I actually want and need some boundaries and rules for being able to be effective at work. I have learned that I actually do not want to mix bubble bath and work. Because then the relaxing image of a bubble bath is destroyed forever. I need to define when and where to focus on work and most importantly let myself have breaks, detach from work and relax systematically. I need to set the boundaries for myself. That’s not easy but that’s a pretty great situation to be in.
My favourite tips to be and feel effective during work days:
- Plan ahead your tasks and goals for each week.
- Have a simple to do list for each day. It helps you to realize the progress.
- Plan ahead your minimum and maximum work hours for the next day. Stick to them.
- Choose the work location according to your task style. Do you need to concentrate, be creative or do you need social interaction?
- Take microbreaks, breaks, naps, whatever you feel will re-energise you during the day.
- Calm down for at least a couple of hours each night when you do not ponder over work even if you know you have loads of things to do the next morning. A good night sleep can magically solve some of the problems.
What are your habits to make flexible hours work for you?