How to structure your freelance working day to have more energy
Do you jump out of the bed and run straight to your home office?
Do you rush through the morning to get your kids ready, looking forward to the silence that will come once they’re at school?
Or do you take enough time to start your day on the right note?
The first few minutes of your day can play a key role.
Just because you could walk straight from your bed to desk, doesn’t mean it’s the best way to kick off your day. A better idea is to begin with a morning routine. But that’s not all. The question is: How do you structure the rest of your freelance day when you’ve finished your yoga/jogging/gym/meditation session?
Not all parts of the day are created equal
I’m sure you don’t need any research or statistics to realise that your energy levels throughout the day change. But let’s call on some decent data anyway. First the most ancient one: Ayurveda1.
- Start early
According to Ayurveda, everything is composed of energy. This energy is comprised of five elements: space, air, fire, water, earth. They can manifest in our body as three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha, which fluctuate throughout the day.
To make the best use of your inner energy, it’s wise to wake up during the “vata time”, so between 2 and 6 am. Waking up shortly before 6 am should be enough to feel energetic and spend a few moments on your morning ritual. Otherwise, if you leave your bed between 6 and 10 am, you’ll feel more sluggish. That’s a “kapha time”, ruled by the elements earth and water, immune to hectolitres of coffee and flows of energy drinks. To make the best use of this part of the day, get moving as soon as possible. Leave the house, focus on physical activity, eat a light breakfast, and start your work. Once at your desk, begin with nurturing your connections: have your meetings, check in with your colleagues, and respond to your emails to do something useful before the real fire wakes up inside you.
- Be creative
Next, it’s time to turn on your creativity mode. Between 10 am and 2 pm we’re most energetic, because it’s “pitta time”, ruled by fire and water. If you need to write a new article, work on a new website or marketing campaign, this is the right time to do it. Plan your hardest task for this part of the day to make sure you don’t waste the energy flowing through your mind and body.
- Take it easy
After the storm comes the silence. In the “vata time”, between 2 pm and 6 pm, our focus decreases. Use this part of the day for reading, making connections, or reviewing your work created under the influence of fire. Finally, spend the last hours, so 6 to 10 pm, away from your screen. Relax with your friends and family, then get ready to wind down. It’s “kapha time” again, so it’s wise to head to bed before 10 pm. If you stay up longer, you probably won’t be able to fall asleep, as the new flow of energy coming from the active “pitta time” (10 pm to 2 am) will submerge you in new ideas. Sure, you might feel very creative at night, and you might be able to focus on some difficult tasks, but in fact you’re “stealing” the precious energy that is meant to be used for digestion and processing everything you’ve experienced throughout the day. Plus, you’ll wake up feeling drained and passive, tempted to switch on the coffee-zombie mode.
Some science behind it
If the theory of doshas and various elements dominating your body doesn’t resonate with you, here is some research data:
A scientific study of brain circuits based on MRI scans confirmed that the activity of prefrontal cortex is the highest when we sleep or right after we wake up. That means, we have more connections in our brain in the mornings. That’s why this part of the day is ideal for creative work and difficult tasks. The analytical parts of the brain become more active in the second part of the day. That’s why afternoons and evenings are more suited for editing, proofreading, or analysing your work.
It’s almost exactly what the ancient Ayurveda prescribes.
Ready, steady, go?
If you’re looking for the way to optimise your energy levels and make the best use of your day, don’t take the ayurvedic recommendations or brain studies with the pinch of salt. Take them to your heart.
There are many ways to boost your energy. But instead of using various stimulants, you can simply go with the flow. The flow of nature.
So, how do you structure your work day?
1Based on the book: “Ayurveda Lifestyle and Wisdom: A Complete Prescription to Optimize Your Health, Prevent Disease, and Live with Vitality and Joy” by Shunya Acharya