One of the beauties of the internet age is the inherent flexibility in the way we work.
Unlike the older industrial systems (of which our industrial education system is bred), which required a certain consistency in time (when you’re using a series of wheels and gears, each cog must fit seamlessly together), our new world is one of fluidity. The digital world functions whether anyone’s at the factory at 7am sharp or not, and the work that is required is more flexible in nature.
As long as we get things done, and send them to people by the times they’re expecting them, we can work wherever we want, however we want — and whenever we want.
This flexibility is, as most things in life, a mixed blessing and curse. A blessing because it allows you to work in the ways that work for you best; a curse because, if you choose, it can afford you the freedom to not be productive at all. Consistency requires discipline; there are less external forces pushing you into a disciplined structure.
The beauty and challenge of working freedom is that you can become intentional about your best natural rhythms.
Everyone’s best working structure is different. The way our energy levels shift throughout the day are different. Some of us are morning people, some night owls; some can work for sustained periods of time, and others are better sprinters.
You need to come in tune with your natural rhythms in order to build a work cadence that feels natural and effortless to you — which means you need to learn to see them.
Start taking notes on your observations. At what points in the day do you focus best? Feel most motivated? Tend to be most easily productive? What sorts of things break your focus? What enhances it?
For example: my purest focus comes in the morning, but my best creative energy emerges at night. I work well in sustained periods, but only if I don’t break focus. In the morning, content consumption distracts me (because I’d rather be spending my time on that). In the afternoon, it recharges me and brings me back into focus. Morning workouts tend to hurt my productivity. Evening workouts calibrate me for another batch of work at night.
I’ve built my work habits accordingly, to match my natural points of high and low energy: rising early in the morning and doing focused work for a handful of hours; taking meetings when I’d normally be getting tired, because conversation sustains me. I leave the office reasonably early at the start of the week, so my evenings can be balanced and I can feel rested, and I stay late on Thursdays and Fridays, when I can burn myself down (because I don’t have to rise the next morning and do it all again).
Get to know your working habits, and build a structure that facilitates your natural rhythm.
A more organically structured world means it has the ability to feel more natural. Be intentional about taking advantage.