If date night doesn’t work, you can try date breakfast.
If you need to work 12 hours a day and don’t want to work from 5-8 p.m., you might be able to take that off and work from 8-11 p.m. instead.
If you’re training for a marathon and don’t want to clog up your weekends with long runs, you might be able to get up early one weekday morning, come into work a little later, and work a little later in the evening.
Just because other people use certain hours for one thing doesn’t mean you need to. And if you use unconventional hours for certain things, that doesn’t make you crazy.
Sometimes it can make you more productive.
I saw a great example of this the other day in a time log that came in for my Mosaic project (the subject of my next book, which looks at how professional women with kids spend their time). On one night, this software engineer’s sea of “sleep” entries was broken up by 2 hours of “work” from about 3-5 a.m. I thought that was just a fluke — a weird bout of jet lag or insomnia — until I got this woman on the phone.
She told me that, in fact, this 3-5 a.m. shift was pretty typical, at least in the sense that it happened a few times per week. Her days got booked solid with meetings. But she still needed to produce the work she was being paid for. She also liked to do that sort of creative, productive work that drew her to her job in the first place. So what to do?
She went to bed around 9 p.m. most nights. She often woke up, on her own, without an alarm, at 3 a.m. Instead of lying there fretting in the dark (which is what I do on the rare occasions I pop up at 3 a.m.), she’d get up and go code or do the other substance of her work. She told me that everything was quiet, and no one was bothering her. Occasionally she’d go back and forth with people in Europe at this time, but often it was a good window for buckling down. Then she’d go back to bed at 5 a.m. She’d sleep until 6 or 6:30 when the kids got up.
So, in this schedule, she was getting solid focused hours to work, and also sleeping 7-7.5 hours a night. The fact that it was interrupted sleep might not be ideal for lots of people. I’d hate it. But it worked for her. So she embraced it and used it, and thus got her work done without staying into the evening — which is what a lot of people would do in the face of a meeting-loaded schedule. She could leave work by 6 and see her family.
One of the reasons I have people keep logs for 168 hours — one week — is that it provides a good visual reminder that all 168 hours are in play. If you keep track of your time, and see that there are particular hours when you’re awake but aren’t doing anything meaningful or enjoyable, you can ponder what else you might want to do during that time. I have seen night owls take slow walks on the treadmill at 11 p.m. I have seen people hit the playground at 6 a.m. during the months when it’s light out then. If it works for you, it works.
Do you have any interesting scheduling quirks that work for you?
A side note: Obviously, it would be great if people’s days weren’t booked solid with meetings. Here’s a post I wrote for Fast Company on How to Spend 40% Less Time in Meetings and Get a Life Instead.
Photo: today’s scheduling quirk — blogging at 6:56 p.m.