When do I work an entrepreneur asks

A very interesting question this one is. For many entrepreneurs the idea of breaking free and having the ability to work when you want can be both extremely exciting but for many, when they have that freedom, is also incredibly daunting. Many of the clients I work with have a really hard time, even though they have all the freedom in the world, not working 9 to 5. In fact I would say almost 85% of my clients in the first 3 months of opening really stick to the 9 to 5 kind of attitude (you know the one they were so excited to break away from). Many of them say that they must work then because that is when the rest of the world is working, of course I always point out that actually only their own time zone works in those particular hours but that 9 to 5 can translate into a lot of different times in other time zones (I hope that was clear, you’re smart I know you will figure out what I meant).

I always try to encourage entrepreneurs to think about when their most productive times are instead of when they THINK they should be working? I mean in reality who the hell actually works 9 to 5 anyway? I mean yes you are usually in the office that long but to some degree below is what many schedules can look like:

So the question still stands, when do I work? My answer is simple (as it usually is)

  1. When your motivation is high you work your ass off, you type, you talk, you plan, you connect, you do as many things as possible on that to do list of yours.
  2. When your motivation is not quite at its peak you push yourself. You push yourself to find some motivation. Tell yourself you will just write 1 sentence, you will just make 1 quick fix on the website. You do what you can to maintain some kind of productivity. Usually in writing just 1 sentence you find a surge or inspiration and before you know it you have written and entire article.
  3. When your motivation is gone then you stop. You take a break. You read something you have been meaning to read, you go for a walk, you get a cup of tea, you listen to the radio. One of the most fun and productive solutions I have found to work for me and others is that when the drive to get MY work done is not high  I look for someone else to help, ie: a colleague or I go and volunteer somewhere for the day. 
This notion that we have to be working during certain hours is actually quite ridiculous as I have found in my time as an entrepreneur. Yes there are times when things have to get done during certain hours but there are always a million things to do and they can usually be done any time. For instance I would say 2 of the best times for me to work are:
  1. Early in the morning from about 6am-10am. I seem to get lots of reading and writing done in those hours.
  2. Then I’m usually productive again from about 7pm-11pm or even later when I’m on a roll. This is when lots of creativity for me seems to be flowing and when I get a whole bunch of planning done.
So are those regular hours? I would say no and many starting entrepreneurs are mystified by this. The solution is easy you work when you can get the work done. One of the hardest things about this entire process though, and it took me almost a year, is to figure out when those chunks of times arise for you on a fairly regular basis.
Of course I know that some of you are shouting at your computers “but I run a retail store or maybe a restaurant how can I possibly not be working during those hours?” Well this is one of the things you have to consider when you are running a restaurant or retail store, what are the hours? Look at the great model Cora’s has going. Cora’s is a great breakfast and lunch business that is open early in the morning and is closed by 2pm. Obviously, whoever was deciding those business hours realized in themselves that they liked having the afternoons off. In fact I don’t think it was by chance that the restaurant has a strong family value and that when Cora’s kids arrived home in the afternoon their mom was home.
Determine what it is you want to accomplish in life and figure out the times that you can get one step closer and that will make life easier. We have a lot of hours in a day and a lot of choice now because of our technological mobility as to when we get work done.
One last quick tip: I work on an M & M or Skittles time line (depends on the week). That means that when I do something productive I move one skittle from one jar to the other. When all the skittles have been moved from one to the other then I deserve a day off (sometimes I take 2).
When do you work? How often do you work? When are you most productive? What ass kicking method could be employed to make you think about work differently?
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5 thoughts on “When do I work an entrepreneur asks

  1. I still have a “day job” and that isn’t going away any time soon. But if it did start entrepreneuring full time: I’m a morning person. If my body got it way (it rarely does), I’d sleep from 10pm-7am and then get to work. Things are easier in the morning, things make more sense. On the other hand, my wife is a night person, and works 2nd shift. I get a couple of hours in the morning before she wakes up, but otherwise, most of my uninterrupted “me” time is in the evening. Which is when I have the least motivation to do ANYTHING.

    • Thanks so much for sharing Edward. Too bad that your most uninterrupted “me” time is no the time when you feel motivated. I’m curious do you think you could ever train your body to feel differently at that? Have you ever tried?

  2. Actually, you may think you can work when you’re most productive, but in reality, youi work when your customers require you. Anyone who says different, is not in business at all, or has no grasp of the reality of business.

    • But that is what I mean, you need to figure out when you want to work and then you find the industries that suit you. Maybe you love working at night, so don’t work in an industry that has you working in the day (or vice versa). I argue that you need to find the spaces that allow you to work when you are most productive. I don’t think we put enough effort into this and almost no one ever talk about it. I also would argue that businesses can shape how and when people think and shop. For instance I know a great breakfast spot that serves the most amazing fresh baked breads and they are only open from 11am until 3pm. They have trained their customers to be in there at that time. It is amazing the lines that show up at 11am. So I think we can shift people’s perspectives and as long as you are steady and great and get results then this notion of time is out of whack a little bit. I have ran and am running several businesses at this moment and every one of them is on my clock and customers always get used to it as we are consistent and great at what we do. What kind of work do you do?

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