Not all Time is Created Equal: A Lesson from Gabriel García Márquez

Even if you haven’t had the chance to read One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, walk into any bookstore or peruse a high school english class syllabus, and you’re bound to find Gabriel García Márquez—a Latin American author known for popularizing magical surrealism. Not only is he a literary genius, but he also happens to be a remote work advocate, in disguise (at least, from our perspectives).

Source: Gabriel García Márquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69

As Tam read through his Paris Review Interview, she learned that the writer struggled with the same thing as most new remote workers: schedule.

When I became a professional writer the biggest problem I had was my schedule. Being a journalist meant working at night. When I started writing full-time I was forty years old, my schedule was basically from nine o’clock in the morning until two in the afternoon when my sons came back from school. Since I was so used to hard work, I felt guilty that I was only working in the mornings; so I tried to work in the afternoons, but I discovered that what I did in the afternoon had to be done over again the next morning. So I decided that I would just work from nine until two-thirty and not do anything else. In the afternoons I have appointments and interviews and anything else that might come up.

If you’ve attended one of our Tools to Boost Your Productivity in 90 Minutes with O’Reilly, we’re sure you’ve heard our mantra: not all time is created equal! Real productivity requires tracking your energy, not your tasks.

While Gabriel García Márquez discovered this through trial-and-error, first feeling guilty about not working his old journalism hours, and then trying to write in the afternoons and falling short, he learned how to redesign his work day around his energy level: focusing on heads-down creative work in the mornings, and then saving less demanding tasks for the afternoon.

Well, we’d say his plan worked, considering he won a Nobel Prize for literature. Even if you’re not planning to write the next great novel, you can still apply the same learning.

We recommend taking a week to track your energy and your biological rhythms. What boosts your energy? What drains your energy? Include both professional and personal tasks, given remote work enables more flexibility.

At the end of the week, reflect on your energy patterns and decide on one change to prototype the following week, whether that’s a mid-day walk, or moving meetings to later in the day.

Want to get started with our Remote Works Energy Tracker? We are currently offering it for free by signing up for our mailing list, simply visit our homepage here to get started, or try out our integration with Gather.