Guest post by: Giulia Traverso
Disclaimer: this blog post is not about writing a book on a Monday. This blog is about how to get the hard work done… even on Mondays. And it doesn’t have to be a book that you’re working hard on. This plan-that’s-not-a-plan can be adapted to anything you’re struggling with, be it a new start-up idea, a business plan, a PhD thesis, or any other project you want to ship.
Note that this plan requires carving out some ‘solo’ time without interruptions, and the day of the week I set aside for this is Monday. But it doesn’t have to be on Mondays. Saturdays could be your day, or you could simply cover the essentials by waking up earlier one or two days a week. You just need to gift yourself some alone time so nobody can interfere with your project plan. Here’s how it works:
- Work chunk no 1: one hour of work soon after waking up on an empty stomach. That’s the least comfortable work chuck of the day. Basically you get out of bed as soon as your alarm goes off (no snoozing please!). You quickly go through your morning routine if you have one. You then get dressed (house clothes right next to your bed) and work for an entire hour. You don’t have breakfast; you don’t turn on your devices; you don’t drink coffee until the hour has passed. You can drink water, or lemon water, and a green tea with no sugar to stay lucid. It’s dark outside and there’s bitterness in your mouth. And you’re not sure whether that bitterness comes from the green tea or the work you’re supposed to do. It’s both, my friend! Keep going, keep moving your hands, keep typing on that keyboard. Don’t stop. Keep writing that chapter of the book you were stuck on. Soon the sun will rise again.
- Break no 1: breakfast, coffee, and Instagram. Now that you’ve been thorough the first hour of work, you deserve to eat and have that craved coffee while scrolling down your Instagram feed. That’s also the time to engage with your partner, if you have one. I’m in a long-distance relationship, so for me engagement means that I grab my phone and text him: “Have a good day!”. Done.
- Work chuck no 2: one hour and six minutes of work and first laundry of the day. Don’t do your laundry over the weekend (so forget this one if the day you picked is Saturday). Washing machines are your best friend when it comes to time management. If you set up the timer on your phone, you’ll still be looking at it. Instead, put your bed sheets, towels, unsexy basic white lingerie, and sport t-shirts in the washing machine and run the short program (for me that’s one hour and six minutes) for cotton clothes at sixty degrees. Leave your phone next to the washing machine, press the “Start” button and head to your room to work work work work on your chapter chapter chapter! Don’t think or feel anything! One hour goes fast. That’s basically the time of one episode of Gilmore Girls and one YouTube video on vegan minimalism (plus the six extra minutes to recover from the shocking vegan video). Since you’ve watched all the episodes of Gilmore Girls three times (or four times if they’re the ones with Jess) and you know that the vegan minimalist videos make you feel guilty and like you’re not doing enough to ‘save the world’, you’re better off using that hour to get some work done.
- Break no 2: hanging the clothes, green tea, Google Analytics. The washing machine alarm goes off to tell you that it’s time to hang your clothes. Good news! Stop writing. Even though you’re in the middle of a sentence, stop writing. That flow will be even stronger when you get back. Go to your washing machine that doubles as a timer. Shake each single item of clothing before hanging it. This is good to get rid of the worst wrinkles and tone your arms (especially with the bed sheets). At this point you really would like to brew another coffee, but the day is still long and there’s room for more coffee later on. For now, let’s settle for a second unsweetened green tea. And, to give the fake feeling that you’re not addicted to your caffeine or your phone, check the traction that your website is gaining on Google Analytics. Despite using Google Analytics regularly, I can’t really say how my blog is performing honestly. Maybe one day I’ll write a blog post about that.
- Work chunk no 3: see work chunk no 2. It’s time to wash the other clothes, those that aren’t white or pink: jeans, dark T-shirts, blue cardigans, the remaining gym gear and…what’s that? Mmm hmm, the sexy black lingerie I wore on Thursday last week. And the one I wore on Wednesday. And the one I wore on Tuesday! Pretty good week last week, wasn’t it? With these house clothes I’m wearing, I can’t even recognise myself as the cool gal who wore sexy lingerie for three days in a row last week just to go to work… And who then fell into a depressing pit as the weekend approached.
- Break no 3: hanging the clothes, Instagram (yes!), coffee (yes yes yes!). You really need this coffee and this Instagram scroll. Because it’s almost lunchtime but not quite lunchtime and you still need to put in a little chunk of work… So brew that coffee, grab your phone and just relax.
- Work chunk no 4: forty minutes of work and laundry for the delicate clothes. You know those clothes that you’re supposed to hand wash but that you just wash with the forty-minute hand-wash program for delicate clothes at thirty degrees and almost no spin? It’s their turn now. And… you’re tired. I know. I know! But forty minutes can pass very fast. Don’t think of that Episode 7, Season 3 of Gilmore Girls where Rory finally breaks up with Dean to be together with Jess during the dance marathon that you could watch right now. Choose the right thing instead. The right thing that Rory would have done: get moving on that chapter!
- Lunch break while listening to a podcast about complicated stuff. Morning is over and you can enjoy a deserved lunch now. While you cook and eat, I recommend you keep your brain in ON mode. Listen to a podcast about something you are interested in, something you still find difficult to action. For me, that means listening to podcasts about how to grow my blog. I learn about Facebook Ads, Google SEO, Insta stories, list building, copywriting, pitching, guest posting, viral content, etc.. You see, that’s so much stuff to know and I feel so overwhelmed afterwards that I realise that working on that chapter of the book in the morning was not that big a deal after all.
Congratulations, you nailed the morning! What about the afternoon? There’s no afternoon plan. You have put three hours and fifty-two minutes of solid work into your book this morning. And you know that four hours of focused work is as effective as a full 8-hour workday. So take it easy in the afternoon. …Also because you’re probably gonna keep working anyway, especially now that you feel so proud of all the momentum you’re gaining. Brava!