Imagine waking up without an alarm and floating through the day with no plan and no strict agenda (and no real reason to wear actual pants – Lululemons all day!)
Sounds lovely in theory, right?
If you answered yes, no judgement. Unfortunately, there’s actually a dangerous flip side to this coin: Breezing through your days without a solid plan means you’re far more likely to waste time and not actually get what needs to get done, done.
I get it the appeal, though: Most of us became entrepreneurs because we crave freedom. We were sick of our boring 9-5 jobs (or never wanted one to begin with) and hated constantly being told what to do and when. (And yes, also hated adhering to a strict dress code.)
But turns out, as we get deep into the trenches of running an actual successful business, we realize that if we want peace and profit in our lives, we need at least a semblance of a routine. (And usually, a lot more than a semblance! Entrepreneurship can feel chaotic without supportive structures, systems and routines in place. Ask me how I know.)
If you’re a creative type (or type B personality), you might resist routine. And even the most organized, type A entrepreneurs can easily fall out of a routine when they’re working from home day-after-day with no boss to answer to. But the truth is, routines are actually really flippin’ good for us. Adding (a little bit of) structure to your day can actually make you more productive, efficient and happier.
That said, I put together a quick list of my top tips for creating productivity-and-happiness-boosting routines that provide much-needed structure and still allow you to experience the freedom you desire and deserve:
1) Create Morning & Evening Routines that Work for You
You probably already know how important it is to start your day on a positive note with a solid morning routine. It’s super beneficial to get ourselves in a good state of mind to tackle whatever the day throws at us.
That said, a solid morning routine isn’t worth the time it takes for you to write it down if it’s not actually serving your unique needs & goals.
A morning routine shouldn’t feel like a hefty chore – at least not if freedom is your goal.
Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs get hung up on crafting the ‘perfect’ morning routine – to the point that it becomes overwhelming and unrealistic.
So, here’s my challenge to you: Instead of trying to pack everything & the kitchen sink into your morning, think about what you personally need to feel your best in the A.M.–and then do only that.
Is it a little T-Swift-fueled dance party? A full face of makeup (or a swipe of gloss and mascara)? Or maybe some light stretches? Whatever you do, it should feel energizing and not like a burden. (It also doesn’t need to take up an entire day – it’s a morning ritual after all.)
And here’s the most important part: Write it down or create a quick checklist to run through every day. Why? Because that’s where the freedom piece comes in: When you know exactly what you need to do every morning – and evening! – you free up loads of mental bandwidth to be more creative and make better decisions throughout the day. You’ll breeze through tasks easier and feel better doing it.
2) Set Official Business Hours
This one seems simple–and it is, to an extent. Most business owners think “working whenever they want” is the ultimate sign of freedom. Sometimes, though, you just won’t feel like working, no matter how much you adore your biz & clients.
Ultra-creative, go-with-the-flow types, I’m looking at you!
That said, it’s actually highly beneficial to set official business hours. Which days – and times – are you committed to working each week?
Be sure to schedule these set “business hours” into your calendar. As a result, you’ll know exactly when you will (and won’t) take meetings, when your team can (or can’t) reach you for help or direction and also when you’ll get “the work” done–whether that’s writing new client-magnetizing social media posts or delivering client work.
Plus, here’s where the freedom piece comes in: You get to choose these hours, and you can (and should) choose them based on your natural rhythms. You don’t have to force yourself to be an early bird if you’re a night owl at heart, or vice versa.
Not to mention, you’re much more likely to actually get things done inside said hours when they’re well-defined. This frees you up to spend your time outside of your work hours any way you please – instead of pushing your work off until later and later in the day or week (and then winding up overwhelmed and stressed).
You can also choose exactly what you work on within said hours. (As long as it’s work-related, of course.)
Bottom line: Having business hours doesn’t mean you can’t ever switch your schedule around, work late or start earlier. But it does mean you’re not constantly telling yourself, “Oh, I’ll get to that later” but never actually, well, getting to it because you simply didn’t have time carved out for it. Show up for your business hours the way you would a ‘real’ job – and watch as your productivity soars.
3) Create a Work-to-Home Transition Routine
One reason lots of entrepreneurs don’t feel “free” even though they’re very much their own bosses is because they’re constantly thinking about work. As someone who works from home, it’s vital to let your brain know when it’s time mentally clock out of work and switch into home/family/bestie/human mode.
An easy way to do this? A simple transition routine that allows your brain to relax, settle down and “switch off” from work mode.
This routine doesn’t need to be complex or crazy. Maybe you light a specific candle (our brains are very sensitive to smells and will immediately ‘know’ it’s now “home time”), meditate for 5 minutes or reset your desk for the next day before snapping your laptop shut. Whatever it is – make it a habit, so you start to automatically decompress as soon as you get that first whiff of bergamot.
4) Batch Like Tasks
You’ve probably heard about batching. But if you really want more to experience better time management (read: more time and freedom to do what you truly want), killing the context switching is key. What do I mean?
Well, how about instead writing a To Do List that looks like: “1. Write blog post, 2. Edit TikTok video and 3. Client calls” all in one day, you group like tasks together on the same day (or afternoon).
For example, writing happens on Monday, filming multiple videos happens on Tuesday (so you only have to get glammed up one time – that’s a #win, right?) and all client calls happen on Wednesday and Friday. Studies prove you’ll work more efficiently this way–so who can argue with that?
Adding a little routine to your days can be an easy and powerful way to get more done, stop work from seeping into life and actually provide you with more freedom (and free time!) when all is said and done.
And of course, no routines is ever set it stone. Regularly assess what’s working and what’s not–then adapt, evolve, and keep crushing it, queen.