Establishing habits for doing work is based on the idea that different times of the day are optimal for doing different types of tasks. I work at home and have very few appointments. This allows me to control what activities I do when.
I divide my work to make the most of the natural rhythms that affect my alertness. I am not rigid about sticking to this plan but recognize that this is the optimal work rhythm for maximum performance.
The morning is the time when I have the most mental energy. I start the day by investing in creative work. During the night, when I should be sleeping, I typically get ideas. First thing each day, I try to capture these ideas before they evaporate.
The morning brainstorm often involves problems that my subconscious has been grinding on. I attempt to pull these out to look at them consciously. The usually sparks an outburst of enthusiasm for some new project of feature on an existing one.
I dive right into the project that has captured my interest in the moment. I make no attempt to weigh the merits, but just dive headlong, to see how far I can get. This is the time where I write like a mad man. This is the best time of every day.
The next portion of my stay is spent integrating all of the different pieces of work together. This is when I do testing of the software, editing of the articles I've written, building outlines of new content, and reviewing the courses being developed. This is the detailed work that is necessary to make the ideas real.
While this time brings less joy it is the most productive time on my projects. I typically use a structured approach to the development.
Another activity I typically do during this time is learning. There are always new technologies that I would love to learn more about. I use this time to pursue those and try out new ideas.
Every project has issues, challenges, and problems to solve. Concentrated time much be spent in creative problem solving.
I force myself to organize my work and coordinate the projects with other collaborators. This is my least favorite part of work life so I often minimize it in favor of doing more creative work. When things have problems it is usually because I do not invest enough energy in this area.
Most of the reason that this is difficult for me is related to my personality.
Many of the attributes that make me creative also make social interaction difficult. This part of my work day requires that I look beyond the creative project work to the human dynamics of the project.
My personality traits tend toward task over people, but I recognize the importance of working with others. As an Introvert I get energy by working alone and it take energy for working with others. As an Intuitive I love the big picture and coordination is a mind-numbing focus on details. I must put my creativity on hold to coordinate with others and this feels like it slows me down.
I love to dream about the future and work to make the present projects turn into the future that I desire. While organizing requires me to work with others, planning is totally under my control. This time in my work day is dedicated to shaping the active projects and moving them toward completion.
There is an infinite number of goals that I would love to pursue but a very limited amount of time or energy. Clear priorities are required to produce the results that I desire most. I have a clear list of active projects sorted by priority. Within each of these project I maintain a prioritized list of deliverable results I wish to achieve.
Planning for success involves matching the project priorities with the time I intent to invest in the near future. Each day I review my priorities to make any changes that are needed. I find that by regulating the invested time well, that the actual project goals happen without much planning. Maintaining the proper priorities is my main planning activity.
Of course, the perfect day rarely occurs. Things happen and I also act spontaneously when the mood strikes. But I still find it quite useful to have a picture of my ideal work day. This lets me contrast the reality of my day and look for missing elements that may have been overlooked. I encourage you to think about what your ideal day might look like. This is bound to generate some fresh insights.