Use the First Hour of the Day for Creative, Inspiring Work
If you have a flexible schedule, start your day with something creative and inspiring. Maybe this is the novel or story you were working on, or a painting, or a creative project. Whatever it is, if you can, take your first hour for it. It’s a continuous time and a good start to the day.
In an essay published in Science (a note, an essay, not a study), Jeffrey J. McDonnell, professor at the University of Saskatchewan’s School of Environment and Sustainable Development, explains how difficult it was for him to find the time to do something for himself, and also carry out your usual duties:
Despite the fact that I worked like crazy, my productivity, measured by the volume of paper, was meager. I just didn’t have time during the day to write without distraction. And when I did find time after a long break from writing, the warm-up period to get back to work was often long, which further slowed my progress.
… Since then I have developed my own version of this approach. I call this a 1-hour work day, referring to the short, sacred period when I do what I consider to be the “real” work of the academic community: writing articles.
In the morning I’m primarily in my mental state and still in control of my time, so now I use the first hour of my day to write. For me, this is best done at home. I’ve developed something like a ritual: I wake up early, make an espresso, and write until I’m done – or until distractions such as email, day deadlines, and appointments get in the way. Usually it is about an hour, sometimes a little less, and sometimes more. I have found that, as with hitting the golf ball, writing is easier when I put the ball down. I plan to write early the night before. It’s on my calendar and on my to-do list, with details of which document and section I’ll be working on.
McDonnell goes on to explain how a simple shift changed his work life and gave him the freedom to do a little bit every day, just taking some time to get started . While he talks about writing in terms of scientific writing, there is no reason you can’t generalize his advice to any kind of creative or personal endeavor that you wish you had more time for.
Beyond that, while the main idea here is to do these personal home projects in the morning, if you’re not an early riser and your “best hours” are in the evening , then get busy with your own projects. We even have some tips to help you get the job done after a tiring day at work .