4 Ways to Structure your day: Time & energy management for WFH, self-employed, and freelancing Ninjas


During this time of COVID-19 madness, working from home is a privilege.

But it comes with its own challenges like temptations to laze around, grab a snack every 10 minutes, play with your pet/child, and be distracted with other things. This can use up the time and energy you’ve set aside for work.

Having a structure can create a rhythm to your work and off-peak hours. But since everyone’s set up is different, there’s no one perfect way to structure your day. You have to create one that works for you.

Here are four ways you can try: 

  1. Time Blocking Method  

This method became popular when it was reported that Elon Musk uses it to get things done. The idea is to focus on one task (or similar tasks) within a certain amount of time. The most popular kind is the Pomodoro Method, where one does similar tasks within 25-minute blocks. Versions of this are planning longer time blocks of 45 minutes to 1 hour.

If you are someone who gets easily distracted, this is a great way to be more productive during your working hours.

  1. Energy Management  

Leadership guru Carey Neiuwhof explains how time is a fixed resource, but energy is not. Identifying the times of the day where our energy is highest is key to quality output for our most important tasks.  

It might be hard to do this if your work hours are fixed. But if you have flexible work hours, it can be worth trying. Many right-brained types prefer to do creative work early in the morning when their energy is at their peak, or late in the evening when the solitude and silence re-awakens it like a vampire.  

I personally reserve the middle of the day (2-6 pm), when my energy dwindles, for mundane and repetitive tasks that don’t require a lot of critical, analytical, or creative thinking. And the least productive hours can be spent on breaks or even naps! 

If you are prone to multitasking and struggle to finish tasks, this method can help you prioritize and allocate your energy to the most important ones.

  1. Daily Themes (Weekly Schedule)  

Assigning ‘themes’ to your days can save time in transitioning from one task to another. It sets a focused rhythm to your day since your tasks are all connected under your ‘theme’.

You can schedule Mondays for creating and ideation, Tuesdays for Zoom meetings, and Wednesdays for social media marketing. Twitter’s Jack Dorsey divides his time between his two companies by having different themes for each day of the week. 

This method is a bit less flexible but it’s useful if you have many commitments that need to be spaced out throughout the week. It also makes your days more varied, so if you thrive on a dynamic schedule, this can be a great option for you.

  1. Daily Routines 

Routines can help to anchor daily tasks, even if the rest of your schedule is not as structured. This is great for families with young children or other relatives living under one roof.

This can be a morning routine, a lunchtime routine, a mid-day routine, a mid-week routine, an evening routine, and a bedtime routine. It’s like having a daily ritual and helps save you time planning and switching between tasks.   

Oprah is known to have her morning walk with her dogs and spiritual meditation first thing in the morning, followed by exercise. She ends the day with relaxing, reading, and journaling.

I know a family of six that set a daily family routine at 3 pm during the lockdown. They convened to meet, talk, and pray together in addition to daily themes to help add structure to their suddenly structure-less days in quarantine.

I’ve since developed a weekly plan that is a combination of time blocking and daily routines. I thrive on structure and variety in my schedule – without it, I tend to easily become demotivated and lose focus.

Being aware of your goals, working style, and personal needs help in identifying a structure that works for you. And even when you have one, it will not always guarantee a smooth schedule. That’s where learning to adapt and being flexible to suit the needs of your job comes in.

So what are your goals for your own WFH, freelancing, or self-employed setup? Which of these methods do you think suit your working style?  

Featured image by Thought Catalog from Unsplash.com