Work-life flow, not balance

I read this article the other day about going for flow to optimize work-life balance. In other words, Tristan was advocating an approach that fit work around his own personal energy levels and bio-rhythms.

I stopped scheduling meetings at the end of the workday. Instead, I schedule my meetings in the mornings and early afternoons. Meetings often start at 7 or 8 am (I do a lot of work with Europe so these are convenient hours) until around 10 am. I then reserve a few hours for solo creative work before I take any early afternoon meetings.

Right after lunch, like many people, I get a bit sleepy. So it’s not a great time for me to sit alone in front of my computer. I tend to lack the willpower to avoid chess.com. However, right after lunch is a great time to work with people. I can borrow their energy and use it to focus on the task at hand.

After 3 pm, I try to avoid meetings whenever possible. This gives me a block of up to 3 uninterrupted hours to do something creative and productive. That’s enough time to accomplish something significant and feel good about my day. It also allows me to recharge and feel ready to talk to humans again when I go home.

My flow looks like:

  • I catch the bus in the morning - and on the 1 hour ride I catch up on emails. I like to have zero or close to zero inbox before I reach the office
  • I like to do meetings in the mornings. It gives me a reason to get up early, and other people's energy gets me started on the day.
  • I'll do meetings until around lunch time and 50% of the time skip lunch and power through emails
  • I'll spend the early afternoon talking to the team, as everyone is slightly groggy from lunch and it makes for good catchup time
  • Mid-late afternoon I'll work through emails, do late meetings, and reserve some time to do more intellectually heavy things
  • Late afternoon I'll talk to the team again as people's normal work schedules quiet down

I tell young entrepreneurs to have a general awareness of their own bio-rhythm so that they can optimize work flow, and ultimately be more productive.

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