Welcome to the next profile in our Work Styles series! In each profile, we highlight one person's untraditional workday. You'll get an inside look at alternatives to the traditional 9-5, Monday-Friday schedule (and maybe pick up something new to try).
Today, we're featuring the lovely and talented Amanda Natividad! Amanda is the VP of Marketing for audience research startup, SparkToro. She's also a speaker, former journalist, and Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef.
In this profile, we get an inside look at her approach to juggling working from home with a toddler, utilizing motivation management, and what she does instead of working five 8-hour days. Let's dive in!
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.
Here's what a typical weekday looks like for me:
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.
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.
Lunch with my family, and then put my toddler down for a nap.
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.
Cook dinner, eat, and get the kid ready for bed.
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.
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.
Some people might realize they actually like working mostly 9 to 5 and keeping their evenings free to relax. Perhaps what they actually want is a greater sense of autonomy. Or perhaps what they actually want is to not be bogged down in meetings half the week.
That could be solved by finding opportunities to move up as an individual contributor. Granted, most corporate environments reward those who want to build and manage teams. But there's a dearth of experienced senior practitioners in any given space of knowledge work, and the greatest opportunities might lie in smaller startups.
When it comes to remote work, think critically about what you really want — what will make you fulfilled, and what will help you find your flow state. Beware of anyone who aggressively pushes one form of work over others — be it hustle culture, startup entrepreneurship, or starting your own agency — and do the inner work to figure out what you truly want."
Big thank you to Amanda Natividad for giving us an inside look at her workday schedule!
Highly recommend following Amanda on Twitter and subscribing to her newsletter, The Menu. I've never been a marketing person, but it plays a big role in what I do as a founder now. I love how Amanda brings personality and original thinking to the topic.
Finally, in case you missed it, in the last issue we did a deep dive on Hybrid Work Red Flags to look out for. Here's what one reader thought:
The latest issue of the Remotely Interesting newsletter from @mar15sa nails the issues with the approach most companies are taking to hybrid work. ckarchive.com/b/xmuph6hg2nzz
March 30th 2022
I'd love to hear from you! What did you find interesting about Amanda's workday? What could you potentially try out yourself?
Feel free to reply to this message or DM me on Twitter @mar15sa.
I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this. Hope you have a lovely day!
P.S. Who's workday should we feature next? If you're interested in being featured, fill out this form.