When it comes to daily living, some people are structured and some just fly by the seat of their pants.
While this is a personal preference that you are free to make, you might find that the fun and fancy free mindset leads to some problems when it comes to freelancing.
Even if it’s not causing issues with deadlines or productivity, you might be missing opportunities to find waste in your daily work. This means you might be leaving money on the table or adding unneeded stress to your freelance lifestyle.
In this article, we’re going to go through my personal method for optimizing my routines and establishing some much-needed structure in my business operations.
Let’s get started!
The Importance of Routine and Structure
Routines and structures are the best way I’ve found to to balance the needs of a family in the stacks with my freelancing obligations.
If you started freelancing with the dream of spending more time with your family and find instead that you see more of your office than you do your loved ones, it might be time to assess your routines.
Yes, freelancing is hard work. But if there’s zero time for the other important things in your life, you’re plowing headlong toward burnout.
Take a step back and breathe!
While you don’t need to schedule every second of your day, forming even basic routines can help to streamline your activities and productivity throughout the day. This results in increased productivity and, in many cases, a happier family.
Think about it with your kids. While none of them will say they love an early bedtime and regular list of chores, things run a hell of a lot smoother and they are happier with systems in place.
Your business is no different. Knowing when and where things should happen makes them flow a little easier and before you know it, you’re cramming a whole lot more “getting things done” into your day.
Not to mention, with your business wrangled, you can purposely fit your personal life around it. It is nice to know when meals are going to be, when it is nap time, what time mommy or daddy is giving you their undivided attention and other such things.
By incorporating routines into your daily life, you are not only helping to ensure the success of your freelance endeavors, you are also providing a stable and consistent base for your children to structure their day around as well.
This being said, don’t expect to write up some glorious game plan and start it tomorrow. This process will take time.
However, by taking it slowly and enacting the changes piece by piece, you can help to reinforce them in your daily lifestyle. This increases the chances of your routines becoming habits and being successful.
Step 1: Identify Your Daily Time Eaters
Since the overall goal is to increase productivity, one of the first steps to establishing an effective routine is to identify the needless tasks throughout the day that eat a large portion of your time.
For some, this might be chatting with friends or browsing Facebook, for others it could be checking email too often or spending too much time on paperwork.
Obviously, some time eaters, such as your child’s homework or meal preparation, can’t be eliminated entirely. However, making note of these will allow you to plan accordingly.
Step 2: Create Goals
With troublesome tasks identified, the next step is to determine the actions needed to reduce their impact.
Maybe you’d like to limit Facebook usage, only check emails at a specified time of day or disallow chatting with friends and family throughout the day. Maybe you need to set office hours for family members when you shouldn’t be disturbed. These goals are all up to you.
Just remember, completely eliminating something could be worse than reducing it.
If you are truly into your Facebook or friends, going from constant access to no access at all will be maddening. This will just result in a lot of wondering about what is going on instead of not checking.
Cut back on these things gradually. Easing into your routines greatly improves the chances that they’ll stick.
Step 3: Implementing Your Routine
So you now know what is causing problems in your day, you’ve created goals to improve them and you are ready to start tomorrow with the perfect day right?
For a daily routine to truly stick and be effective, you will need to slowly incorporate it into daily living.
Start with the beginning of your day and tweak a few things. Once you are comfortable with those, tweak a few more. Continue this until you have a routine nailed down and you will find that when the process is complete, your routine is like second nature.
If you are looking for faster results, you can try starting at both ends of the day and working towards the middle. Change a little about your morning wake-up and evening turn-in routines.
As you get comfortable, change a little more. You’ll be amazed how effective this is and how much you can actually squeeze into a day.
Step 4: Repeat!
Now that you’ve seen how much time you can save and how much more you can accomplish, head back to the beginning and start again.
By turning your routine and schedule optimizing into a cyclical, regular part of running your business, you never have to worry about becoming complacent. After the first cycle, pick a focus for your next.
You might focus on increasing time with family, cutting down on unbillable tasks, posting more regularly to your business social media accounts.
Each time you complete a cycle, make notes of the gains and areas you can still improve.
Before long, you’ll find you’re doing more than you ever thought possible!
So there you have it! Three simple steps for improving your daily routines. Do you have any tips or tricks for managing your daily routines? What is your daily schedule? Do you limit certain activities or find its best to allow things to take their own course? Let me know in the comments below!