Remember your routine in kindergarten? Our schedules have changed a lot since then but there may be significant advantages to reverting back to a time where a hearty breakfast, a scheduled nap and recess periods helped us maintain peak intellectual performance.
Let’s review what our kindergarten schedule may have looked like. Here’s a typical seven-hour day:
Wake up: 6:00 – 6:30 a.m.
Breakfast: 6:30 – 7:00 a.m.
Arrive at school: 7:30 – 8:00 a.m.
Productive work: 8:00 – 10:30 a.m.
Morning break: 10:30 – 10:45 a.m.
Resume Work: 10:50 – Noon
Lunch/Nap: Noon – 1:15 p.m.
Resume Work: 1:15 – 2:15 p.m.
Wind down/Recess: 2:15 – 2-45 p.m.
Dismissal: 3:00 p.m.
Home Play/Snack: 3:50 – 5:30 p.m.
Dinner: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Play/Relax: 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Your schedule may have varied somewhat, but I maintain reverting to a revised kindergarten schedule could increase productivity and lead to a happier, healthier lifestyle.
I entered the corporate workforce in 1985 when I was in my early twenties. I quickly learned if I wanted to succeed in sales I needed to work 10-12 hour days, not including the late happy-hour time reserved for clients or colleagues. Getting to bed sometime between midnight and one a.m., then stumbling out at 7:15 a.m., with barely enough time for a quick shower and donut, was relatively easy then. Let me down a Mountain Dew, Coke or three cups of weak office coffee and I was ready to go another round.
Today’s corporate culture hasn’t changed much. Ask any new MBA or law school grad and they’ll revel in stories of 14-hour days with the expectation to work Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons, sometimes both.
Why? Because that’s the way the partners and senior executives did it and by gosh, that’s the way you should do it too.
Not everyone can control their daily routine. Medical personnel, first responders (police, fire) and journalist, have little control over their schedules. They react when things happen.
Because I work for myself, I have the flexibility to exert more control over my work day. Since I started writing and performing contract/freelance work, here’s a schedule I found works for me. I refer to it as my “kindergarten schedule.”
Wake up: 5:45 – 6:15 a.m.
Prepare for Day: Drink at least 8 oz. of lemon water and read, scan news headlines until around 7:00 a.m.
Breakfast: 7:00 – 7:20 a.m. Heavy on proteins, light on carbs
Tackle Emails/Daily to-do’s: 7:20 – 7:45 a.m.
Writing/Creative Work Projects: 7:45 a.m. 12:30 p.m. (Taking short, 10-15 minute breaks every hour or so helps keep me focused and mentally energized)
Lunch: 12:30 – 1:15 p.m.
Siesta/Power Nap: 1:15 – 1:50 p.m. (I wish this was a period of deep sleep. More often, it’s a time to lie still with my eyes closed and relax. Even if I’m awake, it rejuvenates me.)
Project Work/Review: 1:50 – 3:15 p.m.
Work out/ Play time: 3:15 – 6:30 p.m.
Cocktails/Dinner: 6:45 – 7:45 p.m.
Review Work/Prepare for Next Day: 8:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Bedtime: 10:30 p.m.
Do I maintain this schedule every day? Heavens no. I’m lucky if I realize anything close to it one or two days a week. On average, it’s about six and a half to seven hours of work, with the remainder devoted to rest, rejuvenation and social time. Some things I don’t miss in a corporate/office environment are wasted time in the break room and colleagues popping into my office unannounced. All I know is when I can adhere to something like this schedule, I accomplish more, am happier and in better physical shape.
Whether you’re an employer or employee, I encourage you to think about how you can adjust daily work routines to maximize productivity and quality of life.