Unusual schedules as a Happiness Engineer

Having flexibility in your job is awesome, but with flexibility comes responsibility. Not only in the work itself but also in our daily lives, having a balance between your personal and work activities. Working at home implies there is no physical boundary between your work and personal life. In an office, you might be able to leave work behind when you exit the office, but in your house, in theory, you can still be working on your personal time, on your family time, working still at night on your bed, and working while your family is around and doing a family activity. If you don’t define the lines,  none of the activities gets the concentration that is needed.

I tried experimenting in several ways since I joined Automattic. Initially, I had a very similar schedule to an office job, more or less from 9 am to 6 pm. Then I tried starting much earlier in the morning, at around 7 am in order to be able to finish early in the afternoon. However, it didn’t work for me. I would still work until 6 or 7 pm. Finally, I have settled on this schedule for when I’m at home in Bolivia:

Personal time:

I wake up between 6:30 and 7:00 am and have a nice breakfast without rushing. It’s a time of my day that I enjoy. I then practice meditation for around 15 minutes (I’m new to this but it’s working well so far, I’m using Calm app). I usually have an early reading session (without a computer) where I try to start my day with a positive reading that allows me to start my day at the fullest. I’m currently reading “We, A Manifesto for Women Everywhere” by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel.

Since I have a goal of learning German, I spend at least 30 minutes going over a textbook and doing some online lessons. Then I focus on writing. Writing is one of my biggest hobbies and I try to devote at least one hour a day to it. After this, I check some personal emails and/or watch something interesting on TED. It’s all about starting with a positive mindset. I’ve also incorporated a 15 minute routine of exercise before I head for a shower.

Work Time:

I start my work at around 10:30 or 11:00 am. It’s a late start but I found it works for me. Depending on my schedule, it might be tickets or chat. I meet my Aunt for lunch, usually from 1:00 to 2:00 in the afternoon. Then I continue the rest of my work tasks. During the breaks, I try to stretch, walk around my house, get more coffee and share a moment or two with my dog. She’s already used to seeing me around the house. I also read p2s and do follow-ups between ticket and chat shifts.

I end my work day at around 8:00 pm. I don’t mind ending at this hour. Any social activities where I live (like dinner or getting together with friends) start around this time. I end my day with a really good feeling knowing that I had managed to comply with my job but also with all my personal activities/hobbies/extracurricular goals etc.  I found out that if I did that the other way around, that is starting work early, and finishing early to devote to other stuff, I might end up too tired and would just sit in front of the TV.

Quiet evenings at home are usually spent reading, with a couple of TV shows in the week that I follow. I usually go to bed early now (I need my 8 hours of beauty sleep), so I go to sleep at around 10:30 pm.

When I work on weekends, it’s also fun. I usually schedule a Saturday and Sunday together and I get my days off on the Friday before and the Monday after. I actually see it as having two weeks of 4 days each. On these days, I do the opposite, I start working as early as possible, at around 7 am, so that I’m already free by 4 pm. Any weekend social activities usually fit after this time. Flex days on Fridays and Mondays are awesome, I do errands and go to the city center. It feels awesome to be able to do things I wouldn’t be able to do on Saturdays or Sundays since most businesses and banks are closed on these days.

Traveling Schedule

But this is the schedule when I’m at home, I still haven’t mentioned that I like to travel a lot. Since I’ve started working for Automattic, I’ve traveled to Buenos Aires, Rome, Seville, Madrid, Lisbon, Viena, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Stockholm, Bergen, Reykjavik, Oslo, Vancouver, Whistler, Banff, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Kampar, Penang (Malaysia), Siem Reap (Cambodia), Bangkok (Thailand), Bali (Indonesia), Singapore, Long Beach, California, Prague, Vienna, Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Rome, Orlando, and soon heading to Nashville, TN. When I travel and I’m still working, my routine varies depending on the location.

Meeting with my teammates:

On traveling days I wake up early around 7:00 am, work from the hotel/airbnb for an hour or two, head for breakfast (If I’m in a hotel, I love hotel breakfasts). Then I work for two or three more hours either at the hotel or a coffee shop. Then I go out, visit a place or two, and I’m usually back at the hotel by 6:00 pm where I work around four more hours. My weekends while traveling are the best and I do my best to sightsee as much as possible on these days. Who wouldn’t want a weekend in a exotic location in Bali or a beautiful city European city as Hensinki?

Although it’s taken me some time to figure out my schedule (I’ve been with Automattic for two years), I understood that it was a matter of experimenting with what worked for me. This is my personal schedule and might not work at all for other Automatticians, but I’m lucky to have the chance to define it myself.

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