People ask me all the time, “What’s the biggest difference between having a boss versus being your own?”
Besides a steady paycheck, my response is: a lack of routine.
Parents stress how children need routine and structure to survive (it’s true I have 2 kids under 3 years old). But what works for kids also works for adults.
If you work for a company your routine is taken care of during the day, but if you’re an entrepreneur or even work remotely it’s up to you to set a routine.
I’ve been on my own since 2007 and through much trial and error here’s what works for me:
Morning workouts – I try to exercise 5 times a week in the mornings between 6:30-8:30 AM. I don’t consider myself a morning person, but with 2 kids I don’t have much of a choice. Since I’m up anyway, I force myself to go to the gym regardless of how I feel. It’s become my morning coffee and when I don’t stick to this routine I literally get cranky and feel lethargic.
Task time – I know I do my best work from about 10 AM-2 PM. As much as possible I try to find a quiet place with minimal distractions and accomplish as much as I can. Since I’m a pretty organized person I schedule everything into my phone with alerts so I don’t have to think about what to do next. This uninterrupted time is when I plan my workshops, speeches, marketing, etc. Protect this time, it’s necessary.
People time – Around mid-afternoon I usually hit a wall, so meeting with people, Skype or phone calls are scheduled between 2-5 PM. Conversations energize me, so whatever creative juices I am lacking usually get rejuvenated through interactions. Of course sticking to this schedule isn’t mandatory, but over time you pinpoint what flows best for you and go with it.
Routines promote productivity. Without them distractions will rule your life. I’m a planned person, but don’t consider myself Type A. The nice thing about routines is they can change. Tinker with them to see what works best. What matters most is to have them.
Routines are like boundaries. They determine what is useful and help us decide what to say yes and no to. That’s why they should be mandatory.