Experimenting With Theme Days

I enjoy experimenting with my workflow. One day last week I woke up at 4am and worked till 10am to get a “full day of work” done before my family had lunch with my dad. It was a productive day and getting things done early helped me not be anxious during our lunch. It’s not something that I’ll keep up for the long haul since I was very tired come mid-afternoon.

Goals checkup

I previously wrote about doing monthly goals instead of annual goals. Last Saturday I reviewed my February goals. I found a few things:

  1. My revenue was less than half my goal (ouch!)
  2. I want to produce more content because it’s a great marketing tool
  3. I have trouble focusing on the most important thing to do during a day

Number #3 was killer and I often ended the day anxious about not getting enough things or the right things done.

The demands of bootstrapping a plugin marketplace while doing client work and making progress on other side projects can make for a jumbled brain. I decided to try a new experiment with my work time to see if I can increase productivity while decreasing anxiety.

Inspiration for a new experiment

I already check email only a few times per day as mentioned by Syed Balkhi in his post ‘5 Productivity Hacks Every Busy Entrepreneur Should Try‘, but hadn’t considered his #3 tip Consider Theme Days or Time Blocks.

This suggestion was similar to a video by Amy Schmittauer of Savvy Sexy Social posted back in January where she talks about her weekly video workflow.  Here’s the video:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFRKx9rj794]


Trying out theme days

I opened up my trusty moleskine and started sketching out what my perfect week would look like and grouped tasks into themes.  Here’s what I came up with:

Monday – Content Creation

For me Sunday nights have been soured recently by an anxious feeling of not having any content lined up for Monday. The last thing I want to do on Sunday nights is write content so I just ignored the anxiety. The problem was that come Monday other demands had higher priority than creating content.  It would be later in the week before I hit publish, and I felt like I missed an opportunity.

To cure this cycle of missed publishing I adopted Amy’s Monday theme verbatim. Mondays will be spent writing blog posts, scheduling tweets, and recording videos for the following seven days:  Tuesday through the following Monday.  This saves me from needing to write on the weekends or late at night (something I’m not very good at) and I give myself permission to ignore other demands because they have their own place.

Tuesday – Project management and coding

Now that the content is produced and scheduled I can focus guilt-free on projects. With my client work I have two very dissimilar roles:

  • Project manager on projects coded by someone else
  • Coder on projects managed by someone else

If you’re familiar with Paul Graham’s essay on Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule you’ll know that these two roles don’t sync very well.  So Tuesdays will have 2 hrs of project management and the rest of the time spent writing code for client projects and new commercial plugins.

Wednesday – Client calls and coding

Curtis McHale wrote about his ideal workweek and how that involves scheduling calls to one day per week.  Wednesdays will be the time for scheduling client calls if needed (ideally all communication can be done via email).

The rest of the day is more coding on specific client projects or new plugins.

Thursday – Project management and coding

Exactly the same as Tuesday.

Friday – Shop Plugins

The launch of my new plugin marketplace took a lot of time and effort. Jeroen Sormani is a featured developer on the marketplace and he helped me with a lot of the heavy lifting getting to launch and beyond. We spend a few hours each week talking over plugins, support tickets, marketing, and the plugin roadmap.  Jeroen lives in The Netherlands which is 6 hours ahead, so I wake up early so we can meet during the afternoon his time.

I’ll spend the rest of the day working specifically on Shop Plugins tasks till they are all complete.

That’s it! I’m sure there will be some adjustment and things that need to get done in the margins, but hopefully this will result in more productivity and hitting my monthly goals.

I’ll let you know at the end of March how this new experiment worked out!

How about you: Do you have days were you do one thing only, one type of work, or stick to a specific theme?