Just over two months ago I left a major NYC-based PR agency to form my own marketing/PR practice. It’s been both terrifying and exhilarating, but more importantly, a learning experience. Literally every day I mess something up, do something right, and learn more about myself overall.
One of the first things I’ve learned, is that I might not have been wiredto work 9-5s. Now, saying that 9-5s don’t make sense is easier saidthan done. After all, I’ve been abiding by that structure for close to a decade. My first few days of not being required to be somewhere at 8:30am, and responding to e-mails and calls on my own time left me wracked with guilt. “Shouldn’t I be doing something or meeting with someone at 11am?” I thought.
The answer was no, but it took me a solid month to figure that out. Of course, I’m available around the clock to my clients and partners, but realizing my hours of efficiency and maximizing them has proven to be productive, and very beneficial to me mentally. For example, I’m an early riser, and usually start working between 6:30 – 7am. This provides me: a) a quiet time to focus and map the day; b) time to get e-mails to recipients before their inbox is full; and c) enough time to get ahead so I can use the rest of the day to react to urgent matters.
I’m very productive up until lunch, but then, like many — run into that afternoon wall that looks like it requires caffeine or a nap. This is generally where I’ve found it beneficial to take a walk, run some errands, catch up on news, and other mental breaks from my laptop and cell phone. Normally, when I return from this period, I’m refreshed and able to dive back into work. Following dinner and some relaxation time, I will generally work for anywhere from 1-3 hours. During weekends, I work as needed.
What’s the point, and why does my schedule matter to you? It doesn’t, at all. What should matter is identifying when YOU are most productive and how YOU can best leverage your skill-set to do a good job for yourself, clients and colleagues. Everybody on this planet is wired differently, just because 9-5s are the “standard” for work — doesn’t mean it needs to apply to you.
I don’t know if running my own practice will be a permanent professional/lifestyle decision for me, or whether I’ll return to the world of W2s tomorrow or in 20 years. What I do know, is that this mental break from a 9-5 mindset has taught me plenty about myself, and I’m only two months in. Whatever comes next, I’ll be better equipped on a daily basis to maximize my own potential, and get the job done.