I am lucky because my schedule is often open-ended, and I can format my work hours as my day demands. It sure beats working a classic 8-to-5 office job. However, there are some pitfalls to having such a free schedule. Competing priorities can be tough to sift through, especially if deadlines are far-off. It's easy to get lazy since there aren't always strictly designated working hours. The lack of structure has also meant that I skimp on healthy eating habits and fitness.
Two weeks ago, I decided I really needed to examine my work week plan. I was aided by an infographic I saw from Fast Company Magazine which showed the daily creative routines of historically famous writers, musicians and artists. It was nice to see that being creative (and successful) didn't mean haplessly working at all hours of the day, losing sleep, skipping meals & showers. But rather there was sense to finding a rhythm even to one's creative process. I was also intrigued by how individualized each famous person's creative routine was. Basically, they found the groove that worked for them. Instead of asking "How can I get the most working hours in?" I should have been asking "When do I do my best work?"
This has led to a new schedule which I'm just trying out, with full knowledge that it can (and probably will) change in the future. What's nice about this schedule, though, is that it is an honest reflection of my strengths and limitations. I am often most productive in the mornings before lunch, so those hours have been specifically set aside for my creative work (writing, composing, researching, etc). I like to exercise during the middle of the day (rather than morning or evening), so right before lunch, I have gym-time. This means that I can delay my showering until after gym instead of showering first thing in the morning (which used to cut into my most productive hours). Afternoon is when my creative juices tend to stop flowing, and I can really only manage to do specific, pre-determined tasks. So, that's when I will get the business-side of my writing work done (applying for grants, working on demos, e-mails, etc). Evenings are reserved for play and rest.
Now, none of this is rigid. If I'm faced with a looming deadline, I will probably allow myself to become that stereotypical, locked-in-his-room-until-the-work-is-done creative type. But that needn't be the norm, especially if it means going against the rhythms that seem to work best for me.
I'll check in with myself again in two months or so to see how it's all going. Here's hoping!