Work Style Profile: Steph Smith

What does a day in your work life look like?

“Honestly, every single day looks different. Some days I wake up at 7AM and others I wake up at 10AM. Some days are filled with calls (hopefully not too often), while others I’ve completely time blocked. Some days are spent strategizing, while others are spent heads down getting sh** done.

  1. Front-loading: Early on in my time working remotely, I realized that not every day needed to look the same. I also noticed that I would get unnecessarily stressed near the end of the week because I didn’t get everything that I wanted to be done. Over time, I found that working really hard on Mondays and then slowly easing up by Friday worked really well for me. For example, I prefer a 12, 12, 8, 6 2 spread of my week, compared to 8, 8, 8, 8, 8.
  2. Parkinson’s Law: Related to the idea of front-loading, I prefer to work like a lion, instead of a cow. In clearer terms, I prefer to sprint when I’m ‘on’ and relax when I’m ‘off’. Especially with my personal projects, this manifests in setting ambitious (even if arbitrary) deadlines that I sprint towards and then recharge for months in between. I did this with both my book and my course, which were completed in 7 weeks and 3 weeks respectively.
  3. Meeting-free days: I try to ensure at least one full meeting-free day. As of late, this has been Wednesdays, so it gives me time to catch up on ‘hump day’ before the end of the week.
  4. Time blocking: Speaking of meeting-free days, I utilize weekly time blocking at the beginning of each week to make sure that I make progress across a few important items. Without these blocks, I’ve noticed that time will fly and I’ll have been ‘busy’, but not productive.
  5. Get outside: For a long-time, especially during peak pandemic, I forgot how important exercise and sunlight were. It sounds silly, but I know I’m not the only one. Lately, I’ve made sure that I get outside and move daily. I’ve found listening to the Huberman lab podcast a huge motivator in focusing on these parts of my life.”

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

“Even though I had only worked a ‘desk job’ for a year prior, the first few months of working completely remotely were surprisingly difficult.

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

“I’d like to flip this question on its head and encourage people to ask the question, ‘Why do I feel the need to work the standard 9–5 schedule?’

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

“Saying no. I’ve found that learning to say no is a life-long lesson that forever keeps kicking me in the butt.

Graph showing as opportunities increase over time your bandwidth decreases and requires you to say no to opportunities

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

“Remote work (or similarly, autonomy or a flexible schedule) is not an ‘end goal’.

Box showing: Great job, not remote and great job, remote in green. While, bad job, not remote and bad job, remote are in red

Final thoughts?

“Remote work is whatever you want it to be. It wipes your slate clean, allowing you to build your own approach to work. In the same way that we don’t need to work 9–5 M-F, you don’t need to get up and travel the world, just because you may now have access to it.

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