Lately my work days have been so much more enjoyable than before. I get a solid 7 hours of client work and administrative stuff out the way, I'm actually taking my lunch hour for myself instead of working through it, have the energy to put a few more hours into my own projects daily, and still have time to take care of housework, working out, and simply relaxing (and man, that's the part I missed the most).
Good for Me. So What?
My productivity has at least doubled recently - I'm getting far more done every day even though I have far more to do every day (client work has been booming, and I always have my own sites to spend some time on).
The Best Part?
I only had to make one little change in my routine to improve my productivity and satisfaction with my freelance writing work. Just one. What was it?
I reset my alarm clock.
Now, instead of dragging my sorry ass out of bed at 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning, squeezing in a workout, and then working straight into the evening on one thing or another, I get up at 5am.
Oh, I can hear the grumbling now. "There's no way in HELL you're going to see me up, nonetheless working at 5am!" you're saying. "But I work better at night," you're thinking.
I used to say the same things. I work very well late in the evenings - as things are winding down and getting quiet. But there's no way around the fact that our brains, late at night, are prepping to rest. We can't expect to truly be at our best when we've been working our minds all day long, even if on seemingly mundane, non-work-related things. (Now of course, I'm talking about people who actually sleep during "normal" hours in the evenings - if you sleep in the afternoon and then get up to work all night, you're a completely different animal).
I've found that the biggest reason I didn't do this earlier was the fact that I kept telling myself that I couldn't, or didn't want to. I still struggle in the mornings sometimes to convince myself I'll be happier later if I get up "now." But that's exactly what happens.
I wish I could tell you how incredible it feels when I have nearly all of my "required" work done by lunch time, and just a few things to clear up after lunch before I quit (anywhere from 1:30 - 2:30 depending on how long I was out walking or whatever before work).
The thing is, afternoons had always been my most unproductive working time. Lately though, even after putting in a full official day at work, I have more energy during those afternoon hours where I seem to be getting a heck of a lot done (either around the apartment or my less creative personal projects - I do still get into my most creative mindset after dark).
Try it. Even if you only do it for a day, or a week, try it. Make a note of your biggest problem areas with productivity, and then see how you fare with an early start-time. You may just be surprised and realize there's "more time" in the day than you previously thought. At the same time, it may very well not work for you. If that's the case, try 6am. Or try an even later time. Maybe try working overnight and sleeping in the afternoon. Obviously what you can manage will depend on some external factors, such as whether or not you have children that need to be shuttled around during the day, or if you have another full-time job. But play with your clock (external and internal) if you can, and come back to let me know if changes worked as well for you as they did for me.