Keeping Regular Hours and Sticking To Them
When I first retired from my day job to take on the Dot Com Lifestyle, I thought that I'd do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. This proved to be a disaster as the irregular work hours and my well documented short attention span didn't mesh too well. As a result, I got burnt out for a while and had to refocus. One of the things that I've come to employ to assist me with staying focused on the task at hand is to keep regular business hours.
Hours Of Operation Are...
During the week, Monday to Friday, I start my day at around 10:00am (unless Ed Lau is bugging me to play RockBand2 till wee hours of the morning), and am pretty much done by 6:00PM. I do make the exception when I'm feeling the groove though, and will go till I'm not feeling it anymore. When I'm not feeling it, I've learned to shut'er down because I just end up trying to get water out of an empty well. My best work is done when I'm engaged and focused. I do make exceptions when we have an article that needs to launch the next day that needs the final edit, but that's something that will be eliminated moving forward with scheduling changes. I've also found that these late night rushed to finish reviews end up having more mistakes and just don't reflect the care and quality that Futurelooks is known for.
It's really important to structure those business hours as well. My days start off with the usual flurry of emails and returning phone calls. It's my only time to talk real people usually and I tend to get a lot covered in those conversations, versus trying to construct a coherent email. I also touch base with the writers and check on work in progress to try to make sure that we can keep to our promised deadlines. Keeping people focused, keeps me focused. Next comes lunch and then my other duties, but I'm sure this could be better elaborated in its own post of my typical day.
Everybody's Working For the Weekend...Except Me...
Weekends are always off no matter what. This also sort of makes up for those Stat Holidays I no longer get. Although it's easy to just write off Friday when no one is cracking the whip on you, I do try to stay engaged till the final hour, as long as I'm feeling the groove. Having the weekend to look forward to further engages me to keep driving through the week. When I was working at all hours of the day in the beginning, picking up work whenever I wanted, I was really unfocused and found it really hard to finish something I started. Having a real end to the week, and a beginning and completion of each day has really helped me maintain consistent focus, while having the option to disengage when I'm not "pushable" has allowed me to recharge for the next day.
If you're working for yourself, and finding that you're just not as productive or as focused as you used to be when you were runnng the 9-5 gauntlet, maybe it's time to take a page out of that play book and run it for a while. Try setting your hours and sticking to them and get more done within them. When it's time to quit, don't keep working. Quit and rest for the next day. It's worked for me. It might work for you.