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TV breaks: Help or hurt your productivity?

Posted by Deidre Rienzo on

Hi, I'm Deidre. In my posts, I talk about my voyage down the road of self-employment as a copywriting partner to designers, my achievements and roadblocks along the way, and what I’m learning as I go (with Marketing Mentor as my guide).

As I learned in this impromptu podcast, Ilise’s methods of productivity are pretty simple – a daily Post-It Note and a 5:30 AM wakeup time.

How do other creatives schedule their days? Ilise and I thought that insight into each other’s days was hard to find, so here I’ll share how I “do” my day—and in the comments, I’d love for you to share how you “do” yours. Here goes:

My personal (non-working) operations

  • I get up around 8:15 AM (rarely before, sometimes after). I change (into something casual), brush my teeth, turn on the kettle, make some coffee, and get to work around 8:45. On the rare occasion I do get up early (7:15 for me), I luxuriate in the long day and am always impressed at how much is possible. Could I do this every day? Sure I could – but I don’t unless I have big day.
  • Breakfast: At 10 AM, I have breakfast or a smoothie and it takes about 10 minutes. 
  • Lunch & Shower: At around 2 PM, I make a salad or something quick for lunch, and if I’ve already made a dent in my day, I turn on the TV and watch 15-30 minutes of House Hunters, a cooking show or Flea Market Flip while I eat. Then I take a shower. This total break is about 45-60 minutes. 
  • Getting outside: At some point during the day, I leave my office for 15-30 minutes to go for a quick walk, or run an errand in the fresh air. 

Doing work

  • At 8:45 AM, I check all of my emails & get groovy. I check emails, respond, and start streaming WFUV (listener-supported) or NASH FM, a country station that recently arrived in NY/NJ, which I find is spirited and pretty darn delightful.
  • What’s due today? I look at my planner and finish up “due” items and send them off as quickly as possible. This can be quick or take most of the day—depending on how much work is left on these items. 
  • What’s due this week? Next week? I look at upcoming deadlines and spend time working on upcoming projects. Even if I just brainstorm or outline for 10 minutes, it helps me feel less stressed because I’ve started. If something is in the works instead of untouched, that soothes me.
  • I usually work in 30-60 minute spurts, separated by the meals/breaks I’ve mentioned above. Sometimes I get water and stretch for 5 minutes in between. 
  • Client calls. I try to schedule client calls between 10 am – 3 pm Tuesday-Thursday so that Mondays and Fridays are client-free. I sometimes schedule client calls on Friday (mainly used for marketing)—but hardly ever on Monday. Monday is my get moving, get organized and get a head-start-on-the-week day. 

Staying organized 


  • In my planner, I keep track of my upcoming phone calls and appointments. At the very top of each day, I write what’s due that day in very small letters (the smaller they are, the less of a “big deal” they seem). I cross everything out once it’s completed. (I’m usually scheduling these due dates two weeks in advance. After an initial strategy call with a client, we choose a date when I will send their first draft.)

Avoiding overwhelm

  • I try not to have more than 1 big project or 2-3 small projects due each day. If my list is more than 3, I start to feel overwhelmed. I’ve learned this about myself so I try to avoid that. By scheduling projects properly (and occasionally telling a client I can’t start their project until next week), I’m able to achieve this. 
  • I just signed up for Ed Gandia’s upcoming 3-part class: Effortless Productivity: How to Accomplish 30% More Every Day Naturally and With Less Stress.” Not sure it’s right for me – but I’m going to give it a try. I’ve heard there’s a great capacity worksheet to help you figure out how much you can be doing in one day. I’d love to get 30% more done each day!


  • I used to be a lot more flighty and distracted. I quit Facebook, and it’s upped my productivity drastically!

Finishing work

  • I’m much better now at stopping work when I’m done. If I’ve accomplished everything on my list and it’s only 4pm, I leave the office or do other things.

What do you think about my day? Am I the only one guilty of a TV break?

How do you schedule yours? What works for you?

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