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What does a healthy and productive work day look like to you?

goodidea profile image Joseph Thomas ・1 min read

I've been freelancing for 7 years, mostly working solo. I recently realized that my own understanding of what constitutes a "productive" day is based only on my own experience --- and, even though I have been able to work much more effectively, I still have a hard time feeling like I have done "a good day's work".

I think that part of this is that I only feel like I am productive when I'm in a "deep working" state - which often takes me a couple hours of busywork/surfing to warm up to. Then, it's hard to wind down at a regular time because I feel like I should take advantage of being in the zone. Then, I burn out.

I don't want this discussion to become about "how to be productive" - there are plenty of articles about that (and I think our culture prizes productivity in an unhealthy way anyway).

Instead, I'm wondering:

How much of your work day is "deep work"?

How do you maintain a healthy pace throughout your week?

How do you maintain a healthy separation between work & the rest of your life?

Any other thoughts / questions / experiences about this?

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Joseph Thomas

@goodidea

I build software and work with software teams to improve workflows, communication, and best practices. If you'd like to work together, please get in touch!

Discussion

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How much of your work day is "deep work"?

Probably only a 2-3 hours realistically. I work in an office, so that "deep work" state you mentioned can get interrupted very easily; and then it's difficult to get back into. But when I do reach that zone, I find I'm naturally coming out of it after a few hours.

How do you maintain a healthy pace throughout your week?

I don't have a hard-written rule, but if I've had a really tough day I'll try and have a slightly more relaxed day the next (if possible). Obviously that's not always feasible, but I know several tough days in a row wear people out.

How do you maintain a healthy separation between work & the rest of your life?

Where I can I try not to work weekends; I need that time to unwind and reset for the week ahead. It's the same with evenings; I'd rather spend that time with my family than doing work. If I have to work into the evening (say 20:00), then I don't start to unwind/relax until later, meaning my sleep isn't as deep and it affects me the next day. Better to finish working at 18/18:30 and be more productive tomorrow. Plus switching off from a problem often helps me find the solution anyway!

Any other thoughts / questions / experiences about this?

If you know your burn-out point, that's good! You know when you're reaching it and when you need to pull back. Working longer hours does not equal more productivity. Switching off from work is just as important as working.