How I Work

christina canters how i work blogging challenge

In 2015 I spent a good part of the year house sitting.

It was a great way to live at the time. Not having to pay rent was rather delightful, especially in the first year of my business.

I house sat for friends, friends of friends, and people who found me online. Each stint ranged from 3 weeks to 7 weeks, and I was very fortunate to be able to hop from one place to the next.

During this time, I had no fixed place of work.

I’d work from home, cafes, libraries, etc. It worked for a little while, but with the constant moving I found myself spending more and more energy deciding on where to work.

Remember how I wrote about ‘mind chatter’ in my post about constraint? I experienced the full force of it. After moving to a new place, my daily mind chatter would go something like this:

Should I work from home today? Maybe I should go to a cafe? I could spend a couple of hours at home, then go to a cafe later…but which cafe should I go to? Do I just want a coffee, or should I eat there? Hmm, maybe I should go to a library instead…wait, is there a library around? Is it within walking distance? Should I drive? What’s the parking like…

…and so on.

Making a decision about how and where to work was taking up more mental energy than the actual work itself.

Something had to change.

So I bit the bullet and joined Hub. I bought a membership that gave me 24/7 access to the office space, meeting rooms and kitchen.

I decided that I would treat Hub like a normal 9-5 office: I’d get up every day, go to ‘work’, spend 8 hours there, and come home. And it didn’t matter where I was living, I’d always work from the same place.

This alleviated the need to make a million decisions about my work day every morning. Win!

And so I began spending every day at Hub.

I got involved with the community, introduced myself to people and went to as many events as I could. It was great fun! I had a whole new bunch of friends, I was surrounded my like-minded people and I felt part of a community.

The only problem was, I wasn’t getting any work done.

I’d come in early in the morning when it was quiet, get maybe about an hour of work done, then I’d go to the kitchen and start chatting to someone while making coffee. Back at my desk, other people would come in and say hi, what’s up, what are you working on, let’s catch up for coffee, etc etc etc. And being the social person that I am, I found it really difficult to say: “I’m actually working right now, can we talk later?”

I even tried wearing big ‘fuck off’ headphones to deter people from talking to me. But that only prompted people to wave furiously in my face.

I am fully aware it’s my own fault for allowing these interruptions, but one morning when my friend Frankie said: “I love Hub and the people are great, but I just don’t get any work done!” I knew it also had something to do with the environment.

So I tried something new.

I thought about the types of work I do. It falls into 3 main categories: creative, admin and client work.

I then planned how I would work on each category at different times of the day:

1. Creative (writing, preparing presentations, goal setting, strategic planning)

I know that I am most productive, creative and energetic in the mornings. So I needed a ‘morning’ work space where I could work comfortably and uninterrupted for a solid 2 hours.

The solution? A cafe. And it had to be the same cafe every day to avoid that pesky mind chatter. I love the cafe solution because I like the energy of the background buzz, no-one disturbs you, and you feel bad about staying longer than a couple of hours (well, I do anyway), so it forces you to get your work done and leave!

2. Admin (email, writing quotes, invoicing, other financial stuff)

This stuff I can do with my eyes closed, and is for the afternoon when my creativity is low. Coming to Hub for admin work is great, because I need frequent breaks, so having other people to talk to helps get my energy levels up.

3. Client work (meetings, coaching sessions, running workshops, recording voice overs)

I do this in the late afternoon or evenings. It works well, because as most of my clients have full time jobs, we meet after 6pm anyway. And as an extrovert, I feel energised when I’m around other people, so working with clients late in the day automatically gives me a much-needed energy boost. (If you’re wondering, when I record voice overs I pretend I’m talking to another person anyway…so it’s almost the same!)

Since implementing this system, I’ve found I am much more productive.

I get my 2 solid hours of creative work done in the morning, then I head to Hub for the afternoon and schedule client meetings in the late afternoon or early evening. Of course, my schedule isn’t consistently like this every day, but I try my best to stick to it.

So if you feel like you’re being unproductive at work, think about the types of work you do, and what the best times of day are for that type of work. Then, focus on what you can do to help you get your best work done: can you schedule meetings for certain times of the day? Can you block off your mornings for your most important work? Can you find a place to work alone, even if it’s for an hour? Even if you tweak one little thing, you may find it makes a huge difference.

Thanks for reading! I’ll see you tomorrow for Day 16 of the Blogging Challenge!