The earlier years of my career as a freelance graphic designer were focused on clocking as many hours as I could manage in an effort to grow my client list and in turn, my bottom line.
It was this laser-like focus and unflappable work ethic that allowed me to grow my business into a small design agency and earn more than $500,000 on Upwork in just four years.
But since the pandemic, my focus has shifted to figuring out how to work "smarter" rather than "harder." The past year has taught me about the importance of self-care and striking a better work-life balance.
Below is what a typical work day looks like for me.
My alarm clock goes off around 8:30 a.m.
I used to be embarrassed to admit how much I love to sleep. But the truth is, I feel better, more inspired, and more creative after a solid eight to 10 hours. After learning that Mariah Carey swears by getting a full 15 hours of sleep, I’ve decided it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
I typically roll over and respond to Slack messages and emails from bed before I officially begin my day. Once I’m up, I pour myself an iced sweet tea and begin getting ready.
I never eat breakfast, and I don’t drink coffee. I try to only eat when I’m actually hungry, and I’m almost never hungry in the morning.
I’m out the door by about 11:30 a.m. My work attire usually features jean shorts and a tank top.
Luckily, most of my clients are on Central or Pacific time. Since I’m in Florida, I can get away with a fairly late start most days.
The morning commute is my exercise routine. I live in downtown Miami, which allows me to walk to work every day — a half-mile each way.
I tend to keep an extra sweater or blazer and a brush and some makeup in my desk if I feel I need to recompose myself after being in the heat.
I’ve owned a small commercial office space since 2019.
My husband is also an independent contractor who’s always worked from home. We learned early on in our marriage that we prefer a little separation during the work day. He agreed to stay home and I agreed to find an office.
I find that many of the local collabs in my neighborhood are noisy and cramped. This office allows me to have more space and control over my environment, which is crucial to my productivity.
The office consists of three private rooms and a shared lobby. I work out of the largest space and rent out the other two private offices on a month-to-month basis.
The first half of my day consists of updating our team Trello board, attending calls, and replying to emails before diving into ‘Deep Work’
Before the pandemic, I let my clients dictate my schedule. I accepted every conference call request that came my way.
I found myself taking up to 10 Zoom calls per day, which was devastatingly disruptive to my workflow.
I’ve since learned to schedule Zooms (when possible) around my work instead of the other way around.
The "Deep Work" period normally consists of working on my blogs or design projects for clients. I try to ignore my phone and email and usually listen to instrumental music on Spotify (The Piano Guys and Lindsey Stirling are my favorites).
On slower days, or when the type of work I need to perform requires less concentration, I sneak in a bit of Hulu or a podcast.
I eat lunch around 2 p.m.
I rarely pack a lunch. I either have something delivered or walk to a local restaurant for takeout.
Because Miami is heavily influenced by Latin American culture, eating lunch in the late afternoon is pretty normal. In Miami, it isn’t at all unusual to see people eating lunch at 3 p.m. and dinner at 10 p.m.
I love to work late.
The earliest I typically leave work is around 7:30 p.m. when my husband or friends want to go out. Otherwise, I’ll work until about 9 or 10 p.m.
I’m a true night owl. I often feel like I hit my creative stride around 7 p.m., so if I’m on a roll I’ll just keep going.
But if I’m working on client projects, I generally schedule any emails I would normally send after 8 p.m. to go out the next day.
I wind down with TV or a book and reflect on my goals.
I’m the world’s slowest reader. I’m normally asleep after just a few pages, so it takes me months to get through a single book, but I tend to enjoy books about human behavior and business. Two of my most recents reads include "The Stoic Challenge" by William B Irvine and "The Do or Do Not Outlook" by Nick Maley (from the "Star Wars" franchise).
"The Do or Do Not Outlook" talks about the importance of working toward your goals a bit each day. It’s a mantra that I try to live by.
Like Maley, at the end of each day before I fall asleep, I take a moment to reflect on my goals, the steps I took toward achieving those goals that day, and how I can take additional steps toward those goals tomorrow.
Morgan Overholt July 22, 2021 at 08:15PM