The power of a non-linear workday

August 3, 2021

How gratifying, invigorating and productive do you think your workday could be if you could plan it around your life instead of the other way around?

One of the opportunities of distributed work is that you no longer have to be tied to the 8-5 routines that have shaped our lives for the last 100 years. If you're someone who's not only a worker but also a runner, a parent, a traveler, or basically anything else, a non-linear workday can be a life revolution for you.

It could mean that you wake up at 6 am to work for four hours before you go rock climbing with your friends. After a great day in nature, you'd be back by the laptop at 15:00 to finish out the day at 19:00. Or, in a more moderate scenario, it could mean that you:

  • Wake up a 6:00, get dressed and do your 30-second commute to your workstation.
  • Review the messages that you've received since yesterday. Answer the ones that need an answer, knowing that your colleagues will receive them when they start their workday.
  • Get started with whatever is most important for today. With no disturbances, you get a lot done in an hour.
  • At 7:30, you take your kids to school before you go rock climbing (now you're a rock climber with kids!) for 90 minutes.
  • At 10:00 your back at work, ready for some crunch time.
  • At 13:00, you go for a walk and meet up with a friend from the neighborhood for a quick lunch and coffee.
  • Lunch is over at 14:00 when you do a few walking meetings before heading back home to continue in front of the computer.
  • Between 16:30 and 20:00 you hang out with the family, have dinner, play games and laugh together. (In real life, this time most likely contains some chores around your home, but remember that this is an alternate reality. You're a rock climber!).
  • While the kids do their homework and get ready for bed, you finish some low-priority tasks and prepare for tomorrow. At 21:00 your done for the day.

The point of this a non-linear workday isn't that you have to start doing activities during the day. It's that you have the option to do so. It's one of the life hacks that working remotely unlocks for you. Of course, it requires that you and your team embrace distributed and asynchronous work.

What changes would you have to make to enable a non-linear workday? And how would you structure your day if you could make it non-linear?

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