In our series, My Ritual, we talk to badass women about what rituals they've adopted that have contributed to their success. We spent the day with Founder & Investor, Sarah Kunst in her beautiful L.A. home. When you break traditional scheduling restraints and get creative with your day, you increase your odds of being happier and more successful. Here's how Sarah finds time to run a business, and her life, most efficiently.
Thinking about starting your own business or working from home? Get ready for an onslaught of advice from other entrepreneurs. A lot of this advice is a variation on “Lock yourself in a room from 9 to 5. It’s the only way to get things done.” While this kind of structure might work for some people, it’s always felt stifling to me. When I’m not traveling for work, I like to give myself as much flexibility as possible. My work-from-home days are more than just an opportunity to fill my day with conference calls; they’re a chance to balance work, play, and chores that I don’t have time for when I’m on the road. While I like to give myself as much room for spontaneity as possible, a total lack of organization isn’t going to fly--I need reminders to help me stay on track. Here’s how I schedule everything to have a more flexible and fulfilling workday.
I know I just said that structure could be stifling, but calendaring everything makes me more accountable to living a balanced life. The logic is simple: you HAVE to schedule things like conference calls and lunch meetings. Putting those things on the calendar means you’ll remember to do them. So why not take the same approach to things that you often let slip? I schedule my workouts, my downtime, my errands, my self-care rituals: everything. I even merge my to-do list and my calendar, focusing on just 2-3 objectives every day. By having my whole day planned out, I’m more likely to do things that are vital to my mental health like chill time and making myself a healthy breakfast.
Set Up Your Calendar So That It Matches Your Unique Rhythms
Against the advice of almost everybody, I reach for my phone first thing in the morning and shoot off some emails while I’m still in bed. I wake up ready to answer emails. You might feel your best if you work out first thing in the AM. We’re all different. To get the most out of your day, set up your calendar so that it follows your unique energy rhythms. Schedule time to do work when you feel mentally sharp. If you reliably hit a midday slump after lunch, schedule some time in your calendar to do some errands, take a yoga class, or have a nap! Almost no one experiences peak energy from 9 to 5. Being more flexible with your schedule will actually help you optimize your time.
Break It Up
If you’ve ever sat in a three-hour meeting, you know that our brains are just not meant to do the same thing for long periods of time. Work marathons without mental breaks are a sure way to be totally burned out by Friday. I schedule everything in half hour or hour intervals. If I can’t get something done in that time, I come back to it. This approach makes it easier to maximize my time. For example, I shop for groceries in the middle of the day to avoid nutty L.A. traffic. I can do this because I don’t block out the entire day with work; I chuck it out.
We all have those days when work just isn’t happening. You can try to force it, but most of the time, you’re just going to stare at your computer screen. I’m a big proponent of allowing yourself to shift with your moods. If you notice that you aren’t getting anything productive done, try doing something else. Still not working? You probably need a walk or a few minutes to chill out. My advice? Work when you’re working. Stop working when you’re not working. Commit mentally to what you’re doing and let the rest go. Being present makes your work and play better. I’m the boss, but I still have to make sure I’m not engaging in brain-dead face time at the office.
I used to think that structure and spontaneity were at odds; then, I started making the structure work for me. Scheduling my life actually gives me the freedom to follow my whims without guilt or anxiety. (And still get stuff done.) Try it! You might be surprised just how much more effective you feel.