I’ve been somewhat obsessed lately with the idea of “maximum sustainable progress.” Some people’s careers are not just productive but prolific. How do they structure their time to sustain productivity over the long haul?
I suspect they work long-but-reasonable hours, and use those hours incredibly well. This got me thinking about what I would include in my perfect 40 hour workweek. A few ideas:
Strategic thinking/planning (2.5 hours) — We always hear the entrepreneurial advice to work on your business, not just in your business. A little bit of thinking and planning goes a long way. This could be done as half an hour a day, or a long session once a week with a few minutes each day spent planning the next day.
Core production (20 hours) — This is the “stuff” of the job. In my case that’s ideally researching and writing articles and books. I’ve been doing less of this lately because I’ve been doing…
Visibility/”broadening my scope” (5 hours) — This is the promotion and networking element of the job: media interviews, professional events, possibly some social media. Anything that expands influence.
Skill building/speculative (5 hours) — This is the playing around part of the job. You dabble in potential work you’d like to do and practice your skills too. I’d put my fiction and book concept pondering in here (and maybe practicing speeches). Sending out proposals for new work could go in here.
Existing relationships/social (2.5 hours) — catching up and water cooler type chit chat (online as well) with colleagues/friends.
Open space (5 hours) — just unclaimed — available for serendipitous stuff that comes up, and for the ability to expand other categories should I wish.
If you looked at the breakdown of your week, how do you think it would tally up? What other categories should I include? There’s obviously some overlap (is blogging about core production or visibility? Probably some bit of both! Likewise, when I interview people for articles — the core stuff of my job — it often becomes networking too.)
Photo: Brothers in the morning, checking themselves out in the mirror