A day in the life of doing what you love...
Confession session: As a career transformation coach, you can imagine how insatiably nosy I am about what people do, how they chose their career and what their day to day looks and feels like! If we happen to connect, at a dinner party, networking function, bus stop, trampoline class, festival, village fete, gym class, online forum, garden party, office, it won’t be long before I can’t help but ask about you and your working life!
So I thought it was only fair to provide an insider peek on what my working days look like, having found a working life design that really suits me. This isn’t to be Smuggy McSmugston, but to share a bit about how I organise the day and work to my energy flows - so you may be inspired to adapt your immediate working environment and activities to better suit who you are and what you need - and hence be fitter, happier and more productive! And also to demonstrate that I never said that doing what you love wouldn’t mean doing quite a bit of work - in fact I accomplish more and work harder now than I did in previous not-quite-right roles, mainly because the environment and politics slowed me down or dulled my morale.
And lastly, because I really could not advise people thinking of making a big change and hold their hand and provide credibly reassurance that we will get them to the other side - if I hadn’t done it myself.
That would be rubbish!
So, to the day design...
To recap, finding the right work for you and sculpting your role, your week and your day to suit is a combination of: -
Knowing who you are (in my case - boundlessly energetic, project based, practical extrovert).
What you are good at (in my case - speaking, writing, asking good questions, listening, storytelling and synthesising information and sharing it in easy to digest ways).
The environment that suits you best (in my case - a lot of freedom, quite pacey and a range of projects at once).
What motivates you (in my case - helping people be all they can be).
So let me show you how I use this info to design my day. This was Thursday the 28th July 2016:
- 6.15am - Up, groaning and out the door to do a session with our boot camp, which is held in the woods near my home. Peter (my other half) and I do it together, so it's a fun way to spend time as a couple.
- 6.45am-8.15am - Get ass kicked. I complain a lot through the session which involves throwing logs and other natural movement (don’t ask). I love being in the woods this early in the day, which totally makes it bearable - the birds are loud, no one else is around but the odd charming dog and his owner and the forest is in full bloom. Survive. Leave smiling.
- 8.30am-9am - Shower, breakfast, the usual stuff.
- 9am - Off to London for the day to work with clients. On the train I review today’s list - which is divided into three categories:
1) Work - divided by client - with goals and deadlines.
2) My Life - things like doctor’s appointments, bills to pay etc.
3) My Projects - longer term activities like learning about marketing, or research for my new book, which I aim to do a little of, every day.
I tend to check emails and do admin - receipts, invoices on the train. I am listening to When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanathi on audiobook. I find that audiobooks are a great way to ‘read’ en route from one place to another.
- 9.45am - Take a call to review a consulting project with a client - this one is on performance coaching in a large luxury brand. Take a bunch of notes on the revisions I need to make for the client - I will try to amend and complete this as soon as possible, while it is fresh in my mind.
- 10.45am - Arrive in the City. Pop to the bathroom to change my shoes from the go-faster trainers to the heels and check the hair!
- 11am-1pm - Second client of the day, we are kicking off the design of a senior leadership programme that will launch in the U.S in 2017. I like to go and meet clients in person for design kick offs, as it gives us a chance to brainstorm together and to make sure I am developing a programme in line with what matters to them. Sometimes it has been a while since we agreed the project and signed the contract and their scope or priorities might have changed. We get a skeleton of a design together - using my mind map technique to help visualise the flow and structure of the programme.
- 1.30pm-2.30pm - Client and I go for lunch - he and I have become good friends over the two years I have been designing and delivering leadership programmes for him so it is great to have a chance to have an informal catch up with one another.
- 2.30pm-3pm - Walk from City to Shoreditch. I try to walk in London as much as I can. As a social historian by education, I adore the City. There are so many little ancient nooks and alleys, funny named streets that hark to its past (Garlic Hill, Bread Street). Despite growing up in London, it took me a while to learn that the Tube map can make it look like something is quite far away or fiddly to get to when actually it is totally walkable! Yay for Google maps.
- 4pm - Call with my mentor to discuss the final touches for my new courses. Grant specialises in helping to make experts magnetic online and has created and sold a number of training businesses of his own.
It’s been important to have an expert mentor to help me - as I don’t have a boss or a massive infrastructure around me and there are plenty of things I need to learn. I find it helpful to have someone stretch and challenge my thinking. We go through the final scripts and agree on the digital and tech logistics to make sure my audience has a really good experience and learn a lot.
- 7pm - Home and dinner with the better half and our fat cat, Brian. Who has had another busy day. Catch up on Peter’s current portrait sculpture.
- 8.30pm - Little sneaky listen to podcast while in the bath - from a competitor in my field. I think it is really important to learn from and listen to the wider market - people in your area share your expertise and interest and have their own unique style, sometimes you can learn a lot from how they approach something.
- 9.30pm-10.30pm - Peter and I have a lovely habit of reading a book aloud to each other. It is sort of like the analog version of working through a box set together.
- 10.30pm-10.45pm - Checking in with the list for tomorrow - what are the priorities on my three categories and where do I need to begin. I always start with the most urgent and important task for the day on a stay at home day (which Fridays always are), so I work out what that is before bed.
- 11.15pm - Beddybies. I have learned, in my dotage, that sleep impacts everything! If I don’t sleep enough I am not on form, can be grumpy and tend to overeat. So it’s lights out before midnight pretty much every day unless I am on an information binge (will share more about this in another post).
This is a typical day when I am out and about. The other two kinds of day are ‘home alone’ and in delivery - running workshops or talks.
So, the lessons are:
- I need variety, so I schedule a number of concurrent projects and work on them in short bursts throughout a day.
- I need company or I wilt, so I always factor in human connection, face to face and in person.
- I love to learn stuff from other people, hence the mentor, the boot camp and the podcast - I find it very rewarding to feel I am learning and growing.
- I find it best to get exercise done first thing - then you have it under your belt. I sometimes do a dance class or something soft like yoga or pilates or a walk in the evening but I try to break a sweat before 8am.
- Sleep and self care - as an enthusiastic ENFP personality (“the campaigner”) I can easily forget I have a body, as I am so absorbed in ideas. Taking time out to eat properly, connect with my partner, rest and catch up are crucial to my happiness.
If you would like to work on shifting your working life to one that has you up early and excited and sends you to bed happy and fulfilled, please sign up for free report and training here: www.ericasosna.com/report.
Please do drop me a line and tell me, what makes a great day at work for you?
Over and out!
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About Erica Sosna
Erica Sosna is the author of Your Life Plan. As a career coach and expert in the 21st century world of work. Erica helps people all over the world to discover and design a working life that matches their skills, passions and lifestyle.