I worked in Corporate America for over 13 years before leaving to work for myself full-time. And while I LOVED my corporate career, I really love working for myself. I started my career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs, then starting working at BB&T when I moved to North Carolina. My last corp America job was at Wells Fargo managing national social media strategy and video production.
While I loved my corporate career, I got to the point where I needed to choose between climbing the ladder and growing my own business. My blog and Beautycounter starting taking more and more of my time (even after having it for 10 years!) and I was just working too much (sometimes 80 hours a week). I also knew what I valued more than anything was flexibility. Given that, I knew that it would be better for me to work for myself vs. someone else.
I wanted to be able to see my family in Utah more than once a year for a few days. Counting PTO days stressed me out and I never had enough. I wanted to have a Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday I had more than one day off. And I wanted to have more control over where and how I worked.
I made a plan to leave Corporate America about 8 months before I actually did it, so I could financially ramp up to where I needed to be. And then I gave my notice in March 2019. It was a HUGE blessing to leave when I did since shortly thereafter my sweet dog, Maizey got sick and I had all the flexibility in the world to take care of her before we said goodbye. And for that, I will ALWAYS be grateful.
Day In The Life Since I Left Corporate America
While it took me a while and some trial and error to figure out how I wanted my days to go when working for myself, this is where things have settled for now. There are always exceptions, e.g. if I have an appointment or a photoshoot, that shifts things around. But, for the most part, this is what days look like. And I’m lucky that it looks pretty much the same even with the COVID-19 work-from-home orders.
6:00 – 7:00
I wake up sometime between 6:00 and 7:00. What time I wake up depends on what time I get to bed the night before. And, while I NEVER used to use the snooze button, I’m guilty of using it now! I spend about 30 minutes drinking coffee in bed, and catching up on news, answering social media direct message, and scanning my inbox (but never replying) on my phone. I VERY rarely respond to emails on my phone – it’s so much more efficient to do that with my computer so I wait until I sit down to work to do that.
7:00 – 8:30 am
I get out of bed, eat a pre-run snack, grab my laptop and I start working. Sometimes I start working earlier if I was up earlier but I love to knock out 1-2 hours of work before I do my workout. I might have a second cup of coffee but I don’t crave it nearly as much as I used to (I cannot believe I used to drink 8+ cups a day!!!!) And I work from the couch for this little portion in the morning – it helps me ease into my day.
I go through my inboxes and answering emails from Beautycounter customers, my A Foodie Stays Fit team, my Beautycounter team or brands. Clearing out emails help me feel like I have a clean slate for the day without something lingering over me.
If all five of my inboxes are in a good place (rarely but occasionally), I’ll start writing a blog post or do some work on my next big project, whatever that is. (Currently, getting my online running course ready to launch is my big project!)
Before I break for a workout, I write down ALL of my to-do’s for the day and then write the numbers 1, 2 and 3 next to the top priorities. Using the Notes app on my computer, I also roughly outline my day by hour (similar to what I’m going here) so I can estimate how long each task will take and see what’s reasonable to actually complete. I almost NEVER get through everything I map out!!
8:30 – 9:30 am
Workout! Some days I run, other days I ride the peloton. If I’m not sure if I want to run, I’ll often go on a 10-15 minute walk first to see how my body feels. When I go on a walk, I typically answer messages on Voxer from my Beautycounter team.
If I do a shorter run or ride, I’ll do some PT exercises or strength training for 15-20 minutes. Since all the gyms are closed, nearly everything is body weight or using light weights – I only have 3 lb and 8 lb dumbbells! That’s a big change from my CrossFit days and even from my solo lifting days, but I’ve enjoyed the change!
At the end of any workout, I always always always stretch for at least 5 minutes.
9:30 – 10:15
Finish my workout, make breakfast and watch the news while eating. My go-to’s lately are eggs, toast, berries and avocado or this smoothie. (You can get my free breakfast ebook here for more of my go-to breakfasts. What I crave changes as the seasons change!)
10:15 – 11:15
11:15 – 12:30
I sit down in my office to work! After my morning work session, task prioritization list and day outline, I know exactly what I’m working on first. What takes priority varies by day – sometimes it’s a blog post. Other times it’s a newsletter or an email to my BC team. Some days I’m recording videos for my online running course, other times I’m on Instagram stories, other times I’m reviewing work my A Foodie Stays Fit team has completed. My priorities and tasks change every day which is part of why I love what I do!
12:30 – 1:15
Break for lunch! With all the restaurants being closed, my husband has been coming home for lunch a lot which is a nice break during the day! I usually make a salad (get my salad recipe ebook here) or an open-face sandwich (this is my current favorite). Sometimes I’ll reheat leftovers from dinner and other times Tommy will pick up lunch for us (Village Juice, West End Cafe and B.L.L. are some of our go-to’s). Before coronavirus, I had lunch dates 1-3x a week with friends or potential business partners. I love that Tommy and I get to eat together more often these days.
When I was working in Corporate America, I was always rushing to knock things out during my lunch hour, whether it was errands or letting Maizey out while I ate lunch at home. I was so worried about the hour time limit all the time, even though I was salaried! And when I worked at Goldman Sachs, lunch breaks were NOT a thing without the commentary “Oh muuuuust be nice to take a lunch break.” It’s nice to enjoy lunch now!
1:15 – 4:00
Back to work! I usually take a break around 3:00 to go walk around the block and respond to any new Voxers that came in. When I schedule calls with brands or anyone on my AFSF or BC teams, I try to schedule them between 2-4. That’s when my productivity naturally wanes and phone calls help keep me on track since I’m accountable to someone else! If I need to test a recipe, I’ll usually do it around 3pm. I often run to the post office during this time too – I always have multiple things to mail every week!
4:00 – 6:30
This is my favorite part of the day because it’s, without fail, the most productive part of my day. (Although, my morning work time is nearly tied for that honor.) The late afternoon is when I knock out tasks that take big blocks of time. While my phone is on Do Not Disturb almost all day, I often put my phone on airplane mode during this time so I don’t get any distractions. (Tommy and my family can still reach me if necessary via text since my laptop gets my texts so I’m not entirely unreachable!)
If I’m fried, sometimes I wrap things up around 6:00 and go for a walk to unwind from the day before starting dinner.
6:30 – 9:30
Wrap up work, start dinner, eat dinner and spend time with Tommy. We always play Jeopardy while we eat and after cleaning up the kitchen (which Tommy does most of), we’ll watch a show together. Lately we’ve been watching The Voice, How to Fix a Drug Scandal and Billions. We fast forward most of The Voice since we like the performances the best, ha! If we happen to eat dinner early, we may go to the golf course and play a few holes, or go on a walk. Or, sometimes we’ll do that before dinner and eat a bit later.
9:30 – 9:45
I head upstairs to get ready for bed. I wash my face (this is my skincare routine), Tommy and I fold any laundry that needs to be taken care of, and I’ll get in bed to read. (Tommy usually comes up a little later.) To be honest, I usually scroll Twitter for quite a bit and read a few articles from there before I turn to my book. 🙂 I’m currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow.
10:30 – 11:00
Lights out! Somedays I’ll have lights out by 10:15 but I just haven’t been tired lately. A late bedtime leads to waking up later than I want, but I’m not willing to scrimp on sleep after doing that for FAR too long! Then I wake up and do it all over again!
What I Learned After Leaving Corp America
I don’t have to follow a traditional 9-5 schedule or workout super early
Since leaving Corporate America a little over a year ago, it took me a while to realize that I don’t have to run at 6 am just because that’s what I HAD to do for years. (This post has tips on how to wake up early to run!) I used to fantasize about waking up early to work and then running when I needed a break. And then, when I left Corporate America, I didn’t let myself do that for a while even after fantasizing about it!
I think partly because I wanted to run with my running friends and partly because it was so ingrained in me that it was “best” to run first thing! Now I’m happy with my late morning run. I do still struggle with the fact that I don’t get ready until about 11 am most days but that’s okay! I’ll let go of that unnecessary guilt someday soon!
I feel guilty or lazy for not following a traditional schedule
Along those same lines, I often feel like I’m not working enough because I don’t work the normal 9-5 hours. But I work plenty! After working 50-80 hours a week for over a decade, I could do with some 40 hours (or less!!) work weeks.
I like to work before working out
Like I mentioned in my timeline, I work for 1-2 hours before I work out. I am really able to focus during that time and that time kind of disappears. Sometimes I forget what I did during that time until later in the day when I think about something I need to do, and remember, “Oh! I already did it!” And I really don’t mind jumping into work right away and it makes my workout even more enjoyable since it’s a break from work.
I like having a weekend
I used to work every single weekend. And while my work never shuts off, I do my VERY best not to open my laptop over the weekend for work unless completely necessary or unless I really want to. Having those two days to do life and disconnect from work is so luxurious and so necessary. I also try to post less on social media and let direct messages sit until Monday since that’s work too!
I love when I wake up early (i.e. before 6)
On the days that I fall asleep early (i.e. around 10), my body often wakes up around 5:30 and I LOVE IT, mostly because I love how much work I get done in those early hours!! I wish I could make a 5am wake-up happen every day but I am not willing to sleep less than 7 hours anymore! Sleeping 5-6 hours a night while training for the Boston Marathon marathon and working 80 hours a week was NOT a good thing. (And yes, I am well aware that my 7-hours-of-sleep will change if we ever have kids.)
I prefer working from home vs. an office
I got a private office in a co-working space for a few months since I was struggling at home without any social interaction. After we lost Maizey, Tommy and I both thought it’d be good for me to get out of the house a bit. Turns out, I didn’t really like having an office. You can read this post that compares working in an office to working at home.
I’ve found it’s much more efficient for how I like to do life and work to have a home office. It allows me to work early and then run. When I went into the office around 11 or 1 every day, it felt like a waste to even get everything together to go to the office that late. I also like being home to knock out small tasks throughout the day, like laundry. And, I’ve notice I go on a LOT more walks when I work from home since it’s easier to just walk out the front door! (And walking helps my stress!)
When I had a corporate job, I preferred being in the office most days. I really liked most of my coworkers and sometimes it’s just easier to discuss thins in person! Working from home 1-2 days a week was ideal! But since shifting to blog and work for myself full time, I like to be VERY productive when I’m working.
And let’s be honest, an office isn’t always the most productive place. People interrupt you to chit chat, meetings are unnecessarily long, there are lunch outings with coworkers, coffee breaks, walking to and from a parking deck, etc. There’s a lot of wasted time! Maybe I’m a workaholic (okay, definitely) but I like to work without interruptions unless they’re on my terms!
What’s your ideal work day if you could do ANYTHING with your schedule?
And now it’s 6:30 pm and it’s time to wrap things up! I’m hitting publish and stepping away from my computer!