Work Style Profile: Amanda Natividad

What does a day in your work life look like?

“My partner and I both work full-time and we split “shifts” in caring for our toddler. This makes for long weekdays, but it allows for predictability in our schedules. It also makes for some predictable constraints, which in some ways, allow me to be more productive with the time I have at my desk.

8am

Wake up, do a quick workout. I pick a different muscle group to strength train each day. Funny enough, I’ve never considered myself fitness-inclined, and it has usually been a chore for me to work out… but working out every day became easier than choosing 3–4 days per week. It means no bargaining with myself.

8:30am

Make breakfast and coffee while I check email and Twitter.

9:00am — 1pm

Office time. While my husband watches our toddler, I have this time blocked out to work. I’m doing work in my day job at audience research startup SparkToro and doing tasks related to my Content Marketing 201 course. This is also the only time frame that I speak on podcasts, run webinars, or guest on webinars.

1–2pm

Lunch with my family, and then put my toddler down for a nap.

2–4pm

This is sort of my “power hour.” My energy is still up and this is usually when I’m playing defense with my tasks: Replying to emails and messages, finishing up tasks I started and meant to finish, focusing on any urgent tasks. My kid will wake up anywhere from 4–5pm so I try to use my time wisely.

4 or 5pm

Tag in for childcare. Go out for a walk with my kid, play with sidewalk chalk, read books, listen to music — whatever he feels like.

6:30pm

Cook dinner, eat, and get the kid ready for bed.

8pm

Free time. I have about 2 hours to do some reading, cleaning, or writing. I like saving fun writing projects for this time because I know I won’t be interrupted.

10pm-ish

Unwind and get ready for bed.”

What approach did you take to optimize your work schedule for you?

“It took me a while to realize that I work best with some very long days and some very short days. When I have extra energy and feel inspired, I might work a few 12-hour days in a row. But that also means by day 3 or 4, I’m spent. And I’ll only have a couple of hours in me to do work. As far as what is in my control, I tend to spend Monday ramping up with administrative tasks (or tasks that I find fairly easy). Then Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are usually long days, where I’m working longer hours. And by Friday, I’m ramping back down and looking ahead at the next week.

Why did you choose to go against the standard 9–5 schedule?

“Most of this was reactive to the pandemic. Prior to this, our kid was in daycare while my partner and I were at work. So my current schedule is largely a function of working around childcare. But… it works. One upside to not having my child in daycare is that he doesn’t get sick. During our daycare times, the kid would get sick with something awful — like the flu, rotavirus, or norovirus — every 3 weeks. Like clockwork. It would send my husband’s and my schedules into a tailspin, and we’d take turns taking the time off work to stay home.”

What’s one area you’re still looking to improve?

“Managing my motivation levels. Sometimes, I’ll get really excited about a new project, work hard on it for an hour, become overwhelmed by what I ultimately want to accomplish with it, and then I’ll put it down and procrastinate on completing it. This is why I try to push myself to work harder when I feel a burst of motivation and energy. I know the feeling may pass, so I want to get the most out of it in that moment.”

What is your top tip for someone wanting to transition away from the standard work schedule?

“I might gently push back and suggest they look inward and think critically about whether that’s what they actually want.

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