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Woman Reading Paper at Desk Wearing Pink Slippers
Frank Gaglione—Getty Images

A few months ago I read an interesting analogy in the book Talent is Overrated, by Geoff Colvin.

The average runner, says the author, thinks about anything besides than the painful fact that he’s running. Elite runners, by contrast, focus on every detail of their run. They monitor their strides. They critique their gait. They time their breath.

That’s how top performers in all arenas behave, Colvin said. High-performing executives watch themselves from overhead, as a trained observer would.

I could certainly use a dose of that. As a self-employed gal, my success hinges on how well I can manage my time. That’s why I pay $70 a month for a membership to a co-working space (a shared office for freelancers). It helps me go to the office everyday at 9 a.m. sharp.

Well, maybe sharp is an exaggeration. Let’s take a page from the high-performance playbook and observe how I structure my day.

8 a.m. — Hit snooze.

8:05 — Repeat.

8:52 — Frantically search for my car keys, muttering curse words under my breath.

8:54 — Get distracted from key search when I notice the cat is missing. Start searching for cat.

8:56 — Found her! She’s sleeping in an empty box that I was supposed to throw into the trash. Which reminds me: I’m supposed to put the trash on the curb today.

8:59 — Still can’t find car keys, but discover an old pair of sunglasses in the bottom of my junk drawer. Is this shape is still in style?

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9:02 — Discover tweezers in the same junk drawer. Begin tweezing eyebrows. Try to create that Angelina Jolie arch.

9:05 — Notice I’ve over-tweezed eyebrows. Start filling the gap with eyeshadow.

9:07 — Realize I’m hungry. Wander into the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

9:09 — Boil a pot of water with eggs on stove. Hard-boiled eggs are healthy, right?

9:12 — Notice stack of mail on kitchen table. Start riffling through it. Netflix is here! Lets see what movie they shipped. Oh, it’s The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. Hmm, that’s funny. I thought Cars 2 was the next movie in my queue?

9:14 — Log into Netflix to check movie queue. When is Cars 2 arriving?

9:17 — Notice headlines in the top bar of my Internet browser. Looks like there’s a wildfire in Colorado.

9:18 — Look at photos of a Colorado wildfire.

9:22 — Notice that the same news website has a photo gallery of the London Olympic setup. Click on pictures.

9:24 — Smell something funky coming from kitchen. Oh no, the eggs are burning!

9:25 — Hear the screeching sound of kitchen smoke detector. Ugh, that thing is way too sensitive.

9:26 — Stand on chair and try to turn off smoke detector. Can’t reach.

9:27 — Open windows to air out the room. Remember that one window is sealed shut from layers of paint. Need to call a handyman to fix that.

9:29 — Start Googling handymen in Atlanta.

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9:42 — Finish emailing three handyman companies. Turn attention back to photo gallery of London Olympics.

9:54 — Notice clock. Oops, it’s almost 10 a.m. Guess I better go to the office.

9:56 — Realize I still haven’t found car keys. Resume search.

10:02 — Found them! They were in my purse the whole time!

10:08 — Get into my car. Turn the key in the ignition.

10:09 — Realize I forgot to put trash on the curb. Get out of car.

10:12 — Put trash on curb. Get back in car.

10:16 — Still hungry. Didn’t get a chance to eat, after I burned those eggs. Swing by grocery store on the way to the office.

10:22 — You’ve got to be kidding me: $4 for a prepackaged breakfast burrito? Stroll the store for better deals.

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10:30 — Start feeling anxious about the fact that I haven’t gone into work yet.

10:35 — Call boyfriend to complain about feeling anxious.

10:46 — Arrive at the office! I’m here!

There you have it: a day in the life of an aspiring high performer. Emphasis, of course, on the aspiring. Looks like I have a long way to go.

But don’t worry. If this self-employment thing doesn’t work out, I can always take up running.

Like this article? Read more about my zig-zag road to success at Afford Anything!