Maximize Your Flextime

Six women weigh in on how they make the most of an unstructured work schedule.

Flextime allows employees to set their own working hours. Giving them the ability to maintain a work-life balance and perform when they feel most efficient, it’s no wonder why it’s become increasingly popular. In fact, The Muse predicts the standard 9-5 will disappear in under 15 years. Here, six women reveal how they make their flextime work for them.

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1. Use time blocks and plan ahead

“Working in the tech industry provides a lot of flexibility,” says Diane, 28, a director of client relations at a startup IT company and a part-time blogger based in Paris, France. “The best way to optimize my schedule is to work in blocks. For instance, I'll block out separate times to read emails and attend meetings to keep me focused and efficient.” Veronica, 20, a video engineer at a New York City-based radio station, also works in time blocks to stay on track. She schedules two, two-hour sessions each week at the station for filming and then finishes other tasks in free moments. “I write down everything I need to do and then etch out time accordingly,” she says. “I prioritize what needs to be completed today over what can wait a few days.” Teresa, 49, a dance instructor from Big Bear, California, makes sure to plan ahead and not slack off. “If I have a class to teach, I will spend a few hours planning the class choreography, one to two days before the class is scheduled,” she says.

2. Balance work, relationships and self-care

“To me, flextime is about balancing work commitments, relationships and self-care,” says Erica, 28, a history teacher from Farmington, Connecticut. This can mean walking her dog, reading for pleasure or taking a nap in between classes. Veronica also finds a proper balance. “I allocate my time to balance classes, work, friends and rest,” she says. She lets herself take a break if she begins to feel exhausted, knowing that being well-rested will help her productivity long-term. It’s also important to stay motivated with flexible hours. If Teresa is not prepared to teach a class, her students won’t continue to attend, resulting in a canceled class. “In my work, I can take time to smell the flowers as much as I want, but if I linger then the business disappears,” she says.

3. Be open to completing tasks on the go

Myriam, 50, a tax accountant from California, takes full advantage of technology. “When I leave the office, I forward my office phone to my mobile phone so I don't miss any important phone calls.” On longer trips away from her desk, she brings her laptop to handle any last-minute emergencies. Elaine, 37, a personal stylist from San Diego, California has learned to be flexible while working in the fashion industry. “I use moments of free time, like when I am in line at the grocery store, to work,” she says. “I can shop on e-commerce sites, get inspiration from Instagram or text an international contact on WhatsApp, right from my iPad.” Diane has an hour-long commute daily and doesn’t let that time go to waste. “I use my time on the metro to work on different blog posts and plan the rest of my day and week,” she says.