Work Style Profile: Anne-Laure Le Cunff

published24 days ago
5 min read

Hey there, couple notes:

  1. I'm doing a 1-hour webinar on how to avoid burnout when working remotely. Register here.
  2. Registrations for Mastering Remote Leadership cohort 2 are now open! The world went remote overnight and you never got the training you deserved. I've created a course to support you in figuring out how to thrive as a remote leader without going through years of trial and error. Check out more details below.

Welcome to the first profile in our new Work Styles series! In each profile, we'll 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 a creator I deeply admire. Anne-Laure Le Cunff is the founder of Ness Labs, a platform to help knowledge workers become more productive and more creative without sacrificing their mental health. Her weekly newsletter is read by 35,000 curious minds.

She is also a Ph.D. researcher at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Neuroscience at King's College London, where she explores neurodiversity in the context of online education. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Rolling Stone, Business Insider, and more. Let's dive into her interesting approach to work!

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Two people working together in their own time

What does a day in your work life look like?

"Of course, no two days are the same, but I try to stick to some routines around the goals I truly care about.

The first thing I do every morning is to write for a couple of hours. After that, I usually catch up with conversations in the Ness Labs community.

Around lunchtime, I take a break to recharge my mental batteries. I sometimes go for a walk or go to the gym and grab something to eat on the way back.

During the afternoon, I focus on tasks that don't require too much creative energy, such as answering emails or giving presentations. Of course, these still require to be fully present, but it's okay if I don't feel like I have the mental capacity to come up with creative ideas.

This is a very rough outline, and I'm completely fine changing things up to match my priorities, my mood, and my energy levels."

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

"I try to keep my calendar as free as possible. Whenever someone wants to meet, I ask myself: could the goal of this meeting be achieved over email?

I have become more comfortable protecting my time by saying no more often. It's very rare that I have more than a couple of meetings a day, and more often than not, I don't have any meetings at all. That leaves me with lots of space to think and create.

It also means I can have those weird days where I randomly wake up at 5 am, write an article that's been on my mind, and go back to bed for a nap around 9 am. Or sometimes stay up all night reading a fascinating book, and not having to worry about "showing up" at work in the morning!"

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

"Research suggests that knowledge workers should only spend around four hours a day on creative, output-driven tasks. Forcing yourself to stick to a 9-5 schedule is counterproductive.

Instead, I want to make sure I have enough space for those random bursts of creativity, that I let myself feel inspired, and that I can connect with people in a way that doesn't drain my creative energy.

Of course, I realise this is an incredible privilege. Many jobs require a standard 9-5 schedule, and not everyone can enjoy such flexibility. But, since I'm lucky I can, I think it would be a shame not to take advantage of it."

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

"Because I run a newsletter, lots of people have my email address. Some weeks, I'm grateful for all the questions, opportunities, and feedback I receive.

But sometimes, my inbox feels like the sword of Damocles hovering over my head. As soon as I'm done answering emails, there is more coming in. I try to block time to go through my inbox, but it feels tedious.

While I'm very happy about my schedule's flexibility, my inbox can be an artificial source of rigidity."

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

"Start by figuring out why you want a more flexible schedule. Is it to carve out more creative time, to spend more time with your loved ones, to better follow your body's natural rhythm?

Unless you are a solo founder with no dependents, it's unlikely you will have complete control over your schedule — even a solo founder needs to connect with their customers — so you will have to make some trade-offs. The trade-offs you're comfortable with will depend on your personal goals."

Final thoughts?

"There is no magic bullet to figure out the schedule that works for you. Keep experimenting until you feel comfortable. And it's okay to tweak your schedule as your circumstances and priorities change."

Big thank you to Anne-Laure for giving us an inside look at her workday schedule! Highly recommend subscribing to her newsletter if you love thinking about creativity, productivity, and time management. Also, check out her private community of knowledge workers sharing their strategies to be more productive and creative without sacrificing their mental health.

I'd love to hear from you! What did you find interesting about Anne-Laure's workday? What could you potentially try out yourself?

Mastering Remote Leadership

If you're interested in making your work more flexible so you can have your own untraditional workday, I can help!

So many people are settling for a bad remote work experience because they think it's normal.

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  • Feel disconnected from your team
  • Spend more time in meetings than not
  • Have no boundaries between your work and life
  • Constantly feel burned out

This is not normal. Your experience could be so much better!

Let me help you completely transform your workday. The Mastering Remote Leadership course shows you how to create serendipitous moments virtually, embrace the Work Forward Approach to switch from spending 80% of your time in meetings to 5%, take advantage of the benefits of remote to upgrade your life, and so much more.

Here's what a student from the last cohort had to say:

This was made for managers, team leads, product leaders, and founders. I'm very excited to help you level up as a remote leader!

If you're not a leader, please share this with your leaders because it will help them provide you with a better work experience. Also, check out my webinar on avoiding burnout out and reply to this message to get on the waiting list for my upcoming course on working asynchronously.

Happy to answer any questions you have and I'm always open to requests. 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!

Marissa

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