About four years ago I started working for myself. I wanted the freedom and flexibility to own my schedule and the space to bring my ideas to life.

One of the biggest challenges was structuring my time so I was fully experiencing the benefits of working for myself while also being as creative and productive as possible. At first, the idea of systems and planning made me cringe. I felt like they would hold back my creative potential. Eventually, organization and effectiveness challenges pilled up and I decided to give structure a try.

I wondered:

How do I balance client service with working on my own ideas?

How do I avoid interruptions that mess with my creative flow?

How do I stop putting off the stuff I hate but still have to do?

In my first attempt, I mapped out my day hour by hour, squeezing in all the elements of what I defined as an “ideal day.” After a few weeks, I ended up feeling like a robot and the predictability was anything but inspiring.

That’s when I decided to zoom out and think more about the categories of an ideal day and how I can batch my time to be most effective.

My problem became more clear: How do I make sure I’m getting stuff done, taking care of myself, making time from for play, and actively pushing myself outside my comfort zone?

That’s when I developed a framework called “Work, Play, Fit, Push.” Hanging from my wall, it looks like:


Here’s how it works:

1. Set priorities on Sunday.
Every Sunday, I sit down and map out my week. Instead of defining the hour-by-hour of each day, I outline my weekly priorities and what I want to have accomplished by the following Sunday.

2. Map out work, play, fit, and push.
Work: For each day, I outline my “Top 3,” meaning the three most important things I will have accomplished by the end of the day. Sometimes I’ll map out the entire week on Sunday because my priorities are super clear. Other times, I’ll decide on my Top 3 on a day-by-day basis.

Play: I’ve found that play enables me to self-express, reflect, and give my ideas space, which shows up positively in my work. Making time to create art, get into nature, go on photo walks, read poetry, skip down sidewalks and the like puts me in a constant state of curiosity and flow.

Fit: Movement keeps ideas moving forward so I aim to move my body for at least 30 minutes each day.

Push: Since learning and growth is important to me, I do something that scares me (almost) every day. This may be asking someone whom I deeply respect for an interview or writing about a topic that makes me feel vulnerable.

3. Batch your days.
Batching actions into specific days and creating time for creativity has been a huge gamechanger for me. Here’s how I break down my schedule.

CREATE on Monday/Wednesday/Friday: I create holes in my schedule for thinking and creating. On these days, instead of thinking about how to spend my time in advance, I pay attention to my body and take breaks as needed.

CALLS and MEETINGS on Tuesday/Thursday: When possible, I avoid phone calls and meetings because I find them typically unproductive and often easy to solve via email. I set aside three hours on Tuesday and Thursday for meetings, and once these spots are filled, I say no. There are, of course, occasional exceptions.

“Hate you but have to do you” is saved for Wednesday morning: Things like paying bills, clearing out my email inbox, and the like, take up just one morning.

SPONTANEOUS Saturday: With so much structure, I make room for spontaneity. On Saturday, I let go and go where the day takes me. Balancing structure with a day of free-spiritedness makes me feel whole.

INTENTIONAL Sunday: Plan for the week ahead.

Above all, when it comes to reaching peak creative performance, it’s all about experimenting to figure out what works best for you.


What Pocket Users are Saying

  • Maciej Trojanowicz

    February 10, 2017

    Ciekawe podejście do planowania work/life balance.

  • Ghada امل

    August 7, 2018

    Balancing structure with a day of free-spiritedness makes me feel whole

  • Jason Toney

    June 23, 2018

    Might try

  • Asma .

    March 1, 2017

    occasional

  • Priyanka Sharma

    January 13, 2019

    A good Sunday read!

  • Karmi Phuc

    January 2, 2017

    Thoughtful

  • Noel Jacob

    December 10, 2017

    My problem became more clear: How do I make sure I’m getting stuff done, taking care of myself, making time from for play, and actively pushing myself outside my comfort zone?That’s when I developed a framework called “Work, Play, Fit, Push.”

  • Nabha Cosley

    April 23, 2017

    I wanted the freedom and flexibility to own my schedule and the space to bring my ideas to life.

  • Harit Himanshu

    December 29, 2016

    Some great ideas to schedule your week and creating holes to think

  • 'ttushka

    January 5, 2017

    interesting concept for balancing structure and chaos (aka creative freedom), might try that out for myself

  • Tarun Avasthy

    January 5, 2017

    👍🏽

  • NEERAJ DHULDHULE

    June 24, 2017

    do it diligently

  • Julia Gutiérrez Ocaña

    August 11, 2017

    A great idea yo organize days better

  • Connor Johnson

    January 2, 2019

    Planning hour-by-hour can take a toll on your creative flow and positive mentality for the day. This system is devised to make planning a breeze and keep your creative juices flowing with new and exciting plans!

  • Challa F.

    December 12, 2017

    I love the idea of this. I was just saying this morning my day was making me feel like a robot. I needed to switch some things up since I hadn't done a single thing creative all month long!

  • Aaron Via

    July 1, 2018

    Love the balance of the approach!

  • Saeed Ahadiyan

    January 5, 2017

    This is a really helpful method for getting the best out of every week.

  • Christian James Welly

    January 29, 2017

    In a JC where we are so pressed for time, perhaps a plan like this can help us all to maximise the limited time we have.

  • Tadas V

    May 11, 2017

    Push: Since learning and growth is important to me, I do something that scares me (almost) every day. This may be asking someone whom I deeply respect for an interview or writing about a topic that makes me feel vulnerable.

  • Pontus Lundgren

    August 13, 2017

    Test

    One of the biggest challenges was structuring my time so I was fully experiencing the benefits of working for myself while also being as creative and productive as possible

  • Christa Prophete

    November 29, 2017

    very helpful

  • Rokhini Prabhu

    December 5, 2017

    How do I stop putting off the stuff I hate but still have to do?

  • Rokhini Prabhu

    December 5, 2017

    How do I avoid interruptions that mess with my creative flow?

  • Rokhini Prabhu

    December 5, 2017

    The million dollar question.

    How do I stop putting off the stuff I hate but still have to do?

  • Rokhini Prabhu

    December 5, 2017

    Want it all.

    How do I make sure I’m getting stuff done, taking care of myself, making time from for play, and actively pushing myself outside my comfort zone?

  • Rokhini Prabhu

    December 5, 2017

    How to do stick to that and not just avoid it though?

    “Hate you but have to do you” is saved for Wednesday morning: Things like paying bills, clearing out my email inbox, and the like, take up just one morning.

  • Leyi You

    March 11, 2018

    This article has really inspired me to create a timetable. It's so lovely to sit down and read this so I've recommended.

  • Shie Papio

    March 26, 2018

    My problem became more clear: How do I make sure I’m getting stuff done, taking care of myself, making time from for play, and actively pushing myself outside my comfort zone?

  • Jamie Foo

    April 23, 2018

    in the busy, crazy world, this seems pretty helpful. gonna give it a try!

  • Davy Thielens

    May 20, 2018

    Seems a worthwhile way of planning your work week. Time to give this a go.

  • Christina F

    July 23, 2018

    ❤️❤️❤️

  • vince chen

    October 20, 2018

    a nice and reasonable approach to try. 🙃

  • Megan Burton

    December 11, 2018

    How do I make sure I’m getting stuff done, taking care of myself, making time from for play, and actively pushing myself outside my comfort zone?

  • Rocky Johnson

    December 23, 2018

    Show Schedule

  • Tessa Foris

    March 25, 2018

    😀

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