How I Manage My Own Capacity: A Day in the Life

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Day-in-the-life posts are a little weird to write. As a reader, I usually enjoy them and often find them helpful. But when it comes to sitting down to write one, it feels a little conceited and self-indulgent. Like, who really wants to know the details of how I spend a typical day?

Um, maybe people like me who find it helpful to know how other people manage their days (and find it encouraging to know that other people don’t have it together every hour of every day)?

So here goes. This is how I spend a typical day as a work-from-home freelance writer, homemaker and wife, and how I apply everything I’ve talked about in the last two posts.

Early Morning

My husband usually wakes up between 6 and 6:30. I wake up when he does, and get up long enough to let the dog out of his pen and do his morning business. Then I get back in bed with the dog until my husband’s done in the kitchen, usually sometime around 7:00.

Once I’m up for real, I take my thyroid pill and drink a big glass of water before I feed the dog, let the cat out and make sure she’s got food and water, and check on the turtle. Then I go into the kitchen and put on water to boil for coffee (I make it in a French press). While I wait for the water to boil and then for the coffee to steep, I try to get some kind of movement in. Sometimes I do stretches, sometimes I just pace back and forth in the kitchen, sometimes I get on the stationary bike. Lately, though, I’ve been grabbing a wet wipe and using the time to wipe down surface in the kitchen, and also round up any recyclables that got left out the night before.

When my coffee’s ready, I pour myself a cup and then snuggle on the couch with my dog and my Bible. I usually spend about 15 minutes in prayer, then I open up my Bible to whatever chapter we’re reading that day in the First 5 app before reading that app’s lesson for the day. If I have any of my own insights, I’ll jot them down in my prayer journal.

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After I’m done with my Bible study I usually have some time left before I can eat, so I use it to scroll through Bing and earn my daily mobile Bing points (we do this to earn Amazon gift cards). This usually entails looking at headlines, which usually leads to discussing current events (and to one or both of us ranting about the state of affairs).

By the time we’re done enough time has passed since taking my thyroid pill that I can eat breakfast. Typically on weekdays I eat refrigerator steel cut oats that I set up the night before. I zap them for about a minute to warm them and then zap a couple of chicken sausage links to go with them.

After breakfast I pour (and heat up) my second cup of coffee and sip it while I read my favorite daily devotional blogs, and then I segue into my favorite secular blogs and newsletters before taking a few minutes to check e-mail and notifications on all my social networks (and if I have time I might go ahead and scroll a little).

Mid-Morning

By the time I finish drinking coffee and making my online rounds, I’m usually feeling sufficiently awake to really begin my day. So I put down my phone, get off the couch, and go make myself change out of my pajamas into actual clothes–usually some combo of sweater/sweatshirt and leggings (or shorts and a tee-shirt in the summer). I don’t bother with makeup if I’m not going anywhere, but I do wash my face and put on moisturizer, and run a brush through my hair before either putting it up or hiding it under a wide headband. I also brush my teeth and take an extra minute or two to wipe down the bathroom sink and mirror.

Feeling sufficiently put together, I put on a cup of tea and then do some light housekeeping while it steeps. This usually involves picking up a trail of dog toys and corralling any living room clutter that might distract me while I work. If it’s cold or gloomy outside, I’ll usually light a candle or two, then sit down with my tea ready to work.

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(At this point either my husband or I usually retreat to the bedroom with our work so we can both do our thing without distracting each other. Lately it’s mostly been my husband hanging out back there and leaving me with the living room all to myself.)

Late Morning/Early Afternoon

Before I start work I usually go over my bullet journal and see what’s needed that day. This typically involves praying and asking God to show me what He wants me to work on that day and asking Him to set my pace and give me the capacity to do what’s needed.

Then with my agenda in place, I get to work on whatever novel project I’ve got going on. Right now that means researching, plotting and outlining my next book, but when I get to the drafting stage this will be the time of day that most of the writing gets done.

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I usually work on my book for about an hour to an hour and a half before I run out of steam. Then after a short break to check my e-mail and peek at Facebook and Instagram, I’ve usually got enough time before lunch to spend about 20 minutes working on my blog.

At about 1:00 I stop for lunch. First I feed my dog–he eats three tiny meals a day, and pretty much eats when I eat–and then I eat something quick and easy. On weekdays I’m a big fan of what I call healthy adult lunchables–cut up nitrate-free lunch meat, avocado slices and gluten-free crackers with some kind of fruit on the side.

After lunch, if the weather’s even halfway decent, my husband, the dog and I usually head outside for about twenty minutes to get some sunshine and/or fresh air (as fresh as it gets living off a major city street, at any rate) and some more movement. When we’ve had enough, we head back in and I make myself another cup of tea and do some more light housework while it steeps–usually involving dusting and wiping down surfaces.

Mid-to-Late-Afternoon

Once I get my tea and sit back down I’m usually feeling refreshed and focused enough to do some more writing. This is usually when I work on freelance projects. If I’m between freelance assignments, I use this time to work on my blogs or my newsletters, and also do various book and blog marketing tasks. If I’m getting close to a book deadline I’ll use this time to write on my book.

I usually run out of steam by about 4:30, so I get up to eat a healthy snack and make my third and final cup of tea–something light and non-caffeinated. Then I usually come back to the couch and just sit and sip my tea and look out the window. Sometimes I pray, sometimes I meditate on the Word, sometimes I just practice being still. Sometimes I just let my mind wander. The important thing is that I allow myself a few minutes every day to stop doing and just be.

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All of this usually gives me enough of a charge that I can get in another hour or so of work. But I try to stop working and shut down my computer by about 5:45. This gives me 30 to 45 minutes in the evening to do something just for me. Sometimes I’ll put on a podcast and work on a craft project, or on KonMari-ing my stuff, or coloring in my adult coloring books or doodling in my journaling Bible. Sometimes I’ll just read a book or watch some videos. If it’s laundry week, this is usually when stuff gets folded and put away.

Evening

Around 6:30 I stop whatever I’m doing and eat dinner (after feeding the dog his last bitty meal, which is more like a snack so he doesn’t feel deprived and spend the evening pouting). My husband and I are on different eating schedules and also different diets, so we usually each cook for ourselves, but I try to do enough meal prep on the weekends that on week nights I can just heat something up.

After dinner I clean up my mess and wash my dishes, then set out everything I need to make my coffee in the morning and prep my refrigerator oats to soak overnight. Then I brush my teeth and make another pass at wiping down the sink and mirror before my husband and I snuggle up together on the couch and watch a show.

After the show, usually around 8:30, we turn off screens and start getting ready for bed. We have an elaborate routine involving putting all the pets up for the night that I won’t get into, but by the time they’re all tucked in and I change into my PJs and wash my face it’s usually about 9:00. I take my bullet journal to bed with me and write down anything I want to remember from the day, and also answer my daily questions. I’ll also jot down a tentative agenda for the following day, and if there’s a lot on my mind I’ll do a quick mind sweep to clear my head. Then I read a book until lights out at 10:00.

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So there you have it. The main things to notice are how I don’t really schedule my time; I simply have times of day that are best suited to certain tasks, and everything else kind of flows around that. I’ve established rhythms for myself that make the best use of my peak capacity and let me do things that rebuild my capacity when it starts to wane.

I also keep a tight reign on things like social media and other distractions, although I don’t eliminate them completely, because they do add a little spice to my day and help me feel more connected to the world at large. It’s taken a lot of trial and error (and a lot of beating myself up for not being able to do it the way I thought I was supposed to), but this is what works, at least for this particular season of my life.

What about you, friend? Do you arrange your day according to rhythms or are schedules more your jam? How do you manage your capacity? Have you learned anything from this series of posts that might help you manage it better? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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3 thoughts on “How I Manage My Own Capacity: A Day in the Life

  1. Hi from your neighbor at God-sized-dreams. Thanks for sharing how you manage your day. It is amazing how full our days get. May your soul be refreshed as the Lord leads you in His will through each day.

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