I Found the Perfect Balance in a Three-Part Weekday

Drop the conventions and find what works for you.

Auriane Alix
Apr 19 · 5 min read
Photo by XPS on Unsplash

The day my mom asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I said I wanted to “create”. I later realized that “creating” is not something I can do for eight hours every day, and that a conventional office nips it in the bud.

Creating is putting experiences and thoughts into a blender, mixing well, and pouring it all out of your being in a shareable form. To pour, you must first fill. That’s why having to write dozens of articles all day long during my first internship as a journalist made me strongly doubt my aspirations as a writer.

Gradually, I realized that being an independent remote worker was all I wanted. I couldn’t stand having to stick to a schedule or my desk chair. So when I got what I wanted after graduation, I thought I would be the happiest. I wasn’t. I felt terrible. Completely lost. Having lived my whole life on a schedule, I had no idea how to structure my time and make something of it.

It took me a year. A year to find my rhythm. My method of working. And it turns out that this balance results from dividing my day into three parts. I don’t work much, but I don’t fake it. This is how I went from working 6 hours a day to only 2 hours all while earning more. Although now I work a little more since my goals and projects have evolved.

Here’s my typical day. It’s not about copying, but about trying and picking the parts that you like to build your custom life. Try it, stick with what works for you, throw out the rest.

First 1.5 hour: getting my daily output into the world

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities” — Stephen Covey

I don’t list specific times here, for the simple reason that I don’t have any. I’ve ditched the alarm clock. I wake up when my body decides it’s rested enough. More on that here, the effects are amazing.

The first hour and a half of my day is spent on my daily output. An output is what you bring to the world from yourself. It’s basically the heart of your work.

I start my day by writing my article on Medium. I need 30 minutes to write about 1100 words. It would be easier to warm up by checking my email, but that would unnecessarily burn my very first attention points. This is called eating the frog. Start with the hardest but the most important. I don’t always feel like doing it, but once it’s done, I feel good. If I called it a day after that, I would still have made progress.

Then, when I’ve poured the contents of my mind onto the screen, I close the tab and open yesterday’s article. I edit it and send it out to the world.

Output, done. It’s great to have accomplished something meaningful for you in the first two hours of your day.

Before lunch: meeting my deadlines

The next 1–2 hours are spent on my freelance work. I work with two main clients, sometimes more, and have a deadline to meet almost every day.

This part of my day is still a passion for me since it involves writing and I can do it wherever I want, but it’s less about me and more about my clients, i.e., my diversified income streams.

It’s often about writing or editing words. I don’t have much to say about that part. Sometimes it takes me 3 hours, sometimes half an hour. I just make sure I’ve done everything I need to do, often delivering a day in advance.

Then I can go to lunch with peace of mind: I’ve done something for myself, and I’ve done something for my clients. Everything that comes after can wait. There is no longer that sense of urgency (which I should be getting rid of anyway).

Afternoon/evening: recharging or working on my personal projects

I firmly believe that life is not meant to be spent sitting on our asses staring at a screen. There is much more to do out here. That’s why I’ve built my business around working only in the morning.

I make sure I get enough movement every day. If I don’t, I feel restless. Tense. When I do, I feel my mind light and clear. Whether it’s running, surfing, walking, stretching, or lifting weights, I make sure to get out of my head and into my body once a day, in the afternoon, or early evening.

But before that, I have two options. Either I rest, which means spending time with my loved ones, reading, spending time in nature… Anything that allows my mind to unfocus, recharge, to accumulate new material for my writing of tomorrow. Or, I can use this time to work on personal projects. Like writing that book I’d like to see come out one day.

The afternoons are my “me” time. Although the mornings are too because my work is my passion. But you know what I mean.

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” — Henry David Thoreau

The Bottom Line

This sequence fits perfectly with my natural sleep pattern, my focus schedule, and my personal and professional goals. It’s where I’ve found the balance. I don’t work long days, that’s for sure, but I don’t see why that would determine the quality of my work or my legitimacy as a professional.

“When you make stuff, you’re exhaling. But you can’t exhale forever. Eventually, you have to breathe in. Or you’ll be dead.”Matthew Inman, creator of the web comic “The Oatmeal”

Just because the conventions dictate 8+ hour days doesn’t mean you have to fit into that model. Again, it’s about finding what works for you. Try my schedule for a week or two, and stick to the parts that work for you. Or maybe throw it all out the window. You are the only one in control!

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier.

Auriane Alix

Written by

Sharing some patiently gathered tips to help people vibrate on the same frequency as reality — auriane.alix.medium@gmail.com

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier. Join a community of storytellers documenting the climb to happiness and fulfillment.

Auriane Alix

Written by

Sharing some patiently gathered tips to help people vibrate on the same frequency as reality — auriane.alix.medium@gmail.com

Ascent Publication

Strive for happier. Join a community of storytellers documenting the climb to happiness and fulfillment.

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