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

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

He's on every high school English class syllabus. His books are on the shelves of every indie bookstore. Even if you haven’t had the chance to read One Hundred Years of Solitude or Love in the Time of Cholera, you’re bound to come across the famous Latin American magical surrealist Gabriel García Márquez.

While his literary genius is largely recognized, we think that his work process goes unrecognized. In fact, we think he's a remote work advocate in disguise.

Like many of us, García Márquez struggled with guilt and scheduling his time when he first transitioned to the work-from-home life of a professional writer. Earlier in his career, he worked as a journalist—where he had tight deadlines and specific hours. So when he started writing full-time at 40 years old and had the freedom to craft when and how he worked, he felt compelled to keep a 9-to-5 day.

According to García Márquez:

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.

In short, García Márquez discovered a fundamental truth about work through trial and error: not all time is created equal! Real productivity requires tracking your energy, not your tasks.

How can you get started? Well, we recommend starting by tracking your energy. What boosts your energy? What drains your energy? Then, based on your personal matters, prototype small changes you can make to ensure you're doing your most important work while you have the energy, and resting when you need time to recuperate. You can get started today by using the Remote Works Energy Tracker here.

Reflection Questions:

  1. Do you work the same way in an office as you do remotely?

  2. What times of day are you most productive? When do you start losing focus?

  3. How might you change your schedule to leverage your natural energy peaks and valleys?


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