#022—Is your schedule a friend or your enemy?

Hey all, some not-so-fun news… it finally happened for me. I got COVID. It’s day 6 and the experience has been...unexpected. I’m physically okay! But emotionally, it’s been strange. Even after having so many friends unfortunately go through it, and reading about strangers’ experiences online, I was not prepared to feel the range of emotions I’ve felt this week. 

And as you might expect from me by now, I’ve been trying to understand why I’ve been feeling those emotions. Got paaaaages full of thoughts in my journal that I’ll eventually distill for you. 

For now, sending all of you wishes for good health and if anyone is interested, here’s an awesome guide I received from a friend: COVID, An Herbalist’s Perspective.

I’m a big fan of plant medicine but of course, please consult a trusted medical professional and do your research. I’m just here to pay it forward by sharing what helps me. :)


Alright, so for this week, let’s talk schedules and more importantly, energy management. Three weeks ago, I started experimenting with a new schedule, and the results have been interesting to say the least. For context, I used to block out every bit of time on my calendar, even for relaxing, eating meals, etc. But during my move to Florida, I was feeling overwhelmed and uninspired, and I decided to change things up to a looser type of schedule, one that relies more on inspiration in the moment. 

It’s been a big (positive) change for me, so I wrote about it in this week’s Final Thoughts.

Now let’s get to the resources for this week 🎊


💼 CAREERS AND MEANINGFUL WORK

Have you paid attention to when you get your best work done? What about that 3-hour block that haunts you every day when you feel like you can’t get anything done? If you’re like most people, your body and mind don’t stay focused throughout a traditional 8-hour day. You have ups and downs—times when you work well and times when you don’t.

That’s why I’m a big fan of advocating for a schedule that allows you to do your best work. For some people, that could mean working mornings and nights, with a big break in between. You might like to work long hours for four days and have a three day weekend. 

If you’re thinking, “No way my company would go for something like that,” don’t be so sure. With the work from home trend accelerating, companies are starting to realize that a flexible schedule isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Primarily because they’ve been forced to recognize that SO much of what they believed would be bad for productivity actually isn’t…

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out this article from Nikki Carter where she breaks down how she was able to ask for (and receive) a 32-hour work week from her employer. She definitely had to weigh her opportunity cost, but it made sense for her lifestyle and so she went for it. 

I’ve personally coached several people over the past six months to advocate for results-based schedules. You work when you want with certain core working hours so you can be available with the team, as long as you get your work done.

You might get turned down. But on the other hand, you might end up with a schedule that makes you way more productive, lowers your stress, and increases your overall happiness. We spend waaay more time worrying than we do working when our schedules don’t align with our natural working desires.

  • If you don’t know what type of schedule you’d do best with, think about energy management instead of time management. Spend the next two weeks documenting how you feel throughout your day. Here’s a simple energy management tracker I created a while back for my mentees. It will help you recognize your peaks, downs, etc. 

  • I want to share my recent conversation with Tyrone Ross, an incredible human I met through a mutual friend. He opens up about his personal struggle and the moment that made him realize he’s done living for his resume, and instead is going to start living for his legacy. 

  • Are you a working parent? Riveter is hosting a series of events to bring together working parents to support each other, share resources, and find community.

  • Want to dive into investing? Check out Ladies Get Paid’s Investing 101 event, happening next Tuesday, the 27th. More of an experienced investor? Check out one of my favorite publications, Codie’s Contrarian Thinking, where she discusses passive income streams and interesting investing frameworks.


👋 SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL HANGOUTS

  • How She Got There: Women in UX

October 22nd, 9:00 p.m. PDT

We have invited a panel of outstanding women from different backgrounds to discuss their paths to UX, how it's changed their lives, and how you can benefit from it too. Engage with your fellow UX designers and talk about experiences, both positive and negative, and get the support and inspiration that your are looking for. More details here.

  • Lessons from the Design Community

October 26th, 4:00 p.m. PDT

Young leaders will share how they're leveraging their superpower - their diverse backgrounds - to create a new narrative in design. Four presenters will provide a glimpse into their own personal and professional journeys and how their diverse backgrounds have helped shape them into the designers they are today. More details here.

  • Product Management: Lessons from the Product Community

October 27th, 3:00 p.m. PDT

Product managers aren’t just continuously learning new things and need to improve within their product, they are also learning how to do this for themselves in their daily roles. The role of a product manager is ever-evolving and it takes effort and energy to keep up with those changes. Join General Assembly and our seasoned product managers to learn the valuable lessons they learned along the way in their role. They will delve into their most valuable tips, tricks, and best kept secrets of the product community. We hope you can join us! More details here.

  • Meditation w/ Yvonne

October 28th, 9:30 a.m. PDT

Join us each Wednesday for a quick, 30-minute meditation and breathwork session over Zoom. Yvonne will guide us through simple actions that can help create a sense of mindfulness and ease, so you feel refreshed and recharged before you go about the rest of your day. More details here.

  • Build Your Brand

October 28th, 3:30 p.m. PDT

Making people care is hard. Making them care about your brand is even harder. Join us to learn, debate and craft the building blocks of creating a brand that people will fall in love with. You'll hear about tips, tools & advice you need to craft your very own brand story, and ensure you're building a brand that connects with your audience. More details here.


⭐ FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m someone who loves to schedule her calendar weeks in advance. At the very least, on Sunday night, I’m working on blocking out time in the upcoming week to make sure I get done what I need to. 

Or at least, that’s how I was operating. 

I recently tried something new. I found myself feeling guilty when I didn’t get enough done in a day. And then I realized I was spending allll this time feeling guilty and not being productive. So, I asked myself, what would happen if I just let myself have a couple of days every week to do what I feel inspired to do in the moment?

So a couple of weeks ago, I looked at my calendar and re-organized my schedule.  I left the most important, urgent stuff on my calendar blocked (some calls you just have to take), but for everything else, I decided to work on it as I felt inspired.

The very first day was a revelation. In the morning I had coffee on the balcony and let my mind wander. I felt inspired to journal, and ended up writing pages on new ideas for Personal Learning. Throughout the day, I was alternately working, running errands, and hanging out with my family. 

There was a moment during the day when I had to decide whether I was going to hold myself to what I thought I needed to get done, or keep going with what I felt inspired to do. It happened like this:

  • I’d told myself that I needed to get at least three hours of strategic work done that day. But when I got home from running errands, I just felt like chilling and having dinner with my husband and brother-in-law.

  • During that dinner, just through our conversation, I ended up getting at least an hour of that strategic work done. We began talking about an idea I had, and it spiraled into a pow-wow session that left me feeling so energized, and frankly was way more productive than if I had spent that time by myself.

  • After dinner, we all went out onto the balcony to hang out. I was feeling inspired, so I started taking notes in my journal. Before I knew it, I heard my brother-in-law say that he was going to bed. I looked up and it was 1:00 a.m. I’d inadvertently done all the strategic work for that day that I had “missed” by going to dinner. 

So, coming from someone who has always sworn by time blocking, I’m now recognizing that I need a balance. I need days where I let my instincts guide my work; after having done this four times now, I see how much more creative I am and frankly, happier at the end of the day. 

This does however require a great deal of self-awareness. These days can easily turn into watching TV for hours if you let it.

I always start these days with an intention and hold myself accountable to being in an environment that promotes creativity and flow, not passive consumption.

I also recognize that not everyone reading this has the ability to do what they want during the day. I get that most people are still working on a traditional 9-5 schedule. But this goes back to what I mentioned in Careers and Meaningful Work. There is an opportunity now, more than ever, to advocate for a results-based schedule that works for you. Even if it’s not your entire day, just gaining autonomy over some part of it can make a big difference.

When you do have autonomy over part of your day, be thoughtful about how you spend that time. I’m learning that trying to force things may not be the best way to accomplish what I need to, and I hope you can take something from that as you think about your own schedule. 

Let me know how you’ve adapted your schedule during this time, or what you’re struggling with. I’d love to help. :)

I’m here for you,

Shireen