In my current role, I work from noon until 9 p.m. I hadn’t worked a schedule like that before, and I was a little nervous. Usually, by 7 p.m. I’m in pj’s on the couch with my knitting (the things I willingly reveal on this blog), but I didn’t know if that’s because I’d already done a day of work or whether it was my natural pattern. Would I be able to be a productive employee at 8 p.m.?
The answer is yes, but it has taken a little more intention and self-awareness than working a traditional schedule. First of all, I have to prioritize “business hours” tasks for the first five hours of my work day. If I want to talk to someone else in the library or at the university, I have to make sure I do that before almost everyone goes home at 5 p.m. This also means that the first four to five hours of my day tend to be pretty jam-packed with meetings. The reverse effect of this is that my evenings are fairly quiet. The library itself is hopping, but because most of the staff is gone, I can work on projects that take a little more focus in the evenings.
Secondly, I’ve learned that while the office is quiet and conducive to quiet work, I am tired by 8 p.m. I’m able to work but I like to leave any detailed work I’ve done for myself to look over when I get in the next day and am more fresh. I also try to save projects that won’t take too much motivation for this time of day. If it’s something I’m looking forward to, something that resonates with me, it will actually energize me as I do it and help me focus.
Having a non-traditional work schedule has made me look at this more intentionally. I believe this is a practice I will carry forward in all future positions, even Monday through Friday 8 a.m – 5 p.m. jobs.
Our energy naturally ebbs and flows throughout the day and the exact timing of our more productive hours can be a little different for each of us. Are you most productive when you first get to the office? Do you HATE mornings and don’t really feel focused and energized until after lunch? Take the time to answer these questions about yourself and figure out what work should be focused on when.
Libraries are open many hours to serve our communities, so our employees have a wide variety of unusual schedules. We don’t always have the luxury of picking when we do things at work. Whenever possible, work with your internal clock instead of against it. This will help you perform your work effectively without wasting energy trying to prop your eyes open when you’re tired, or tying yourself to your desk when you’re energized and would rather go out and talk to people.
What do you think? Are you a morning person or do you perk up mid-afternoon? Do you arrange your work in any particular way? If you could have any work schedule, what would it be?