Hey, friends! In the beginning, one of the hardest parts of being an entrepreneur was figuring out how to find a routine and schedule. If you have your own business, I know a lot about you: you’re motivated, driven, a self-starter… and you probably like to be organized. But how organized and routinized can we be as entrepreneurs?
Life as an entrepreneur changes by the minute, let alone by the day.
If you’re looking for how to create some semblance of a routine as an entrepreneur, I’m sharing 6 ways you can try to build a routine today. Having some form of a schedule or routine can help us feel like we have a little bit of control over an otherwise tumultuous career. But since I’m all about self-care, finding what works for you, and incorporating happiness, I like to think I’ve learned a few things about how to build a healthy, self-love filled routine. Here’s what I’m thinking…
1 – Let Go: Your new routine doesn’t need to look like your old one
I know this sounds weird, but the first step in trying to create an entrepreneur is letting go of the idea that your new routine needs to be like your old one. When I first made the switch from attorney to health coach/entrepreneur, I felt so out of sorts (I was definitely a newbie entrepreneur!).
For 5 years, I had a somewhat similar routine: get up, make breakfast, exercise some days, head to the office, work (bill) all morning, go out to lunch with colleagues, back to work for the afternoon, and head home to cook dinner. When I made the switch, I struggled with not having an office to go to, colleagues to work with, or a set number of hours I needed to bill.
It wasn’t until I let go of the idea that my new life needed to look like my old life that I could set a new routine. My old routine wasn’t better than my new one, and vice versa. The circumstances and day-to-day goals had just changed. And my routine needed to change with it.
2 – Light Structure
Once I got over the idea that my new routine needed to look anything like my old one, I went a bit off track for a while. I was so happy to be building my own business and following my passion that I lost having any sort of routine. I met old colleagues for lunch multiple times per week, took leisurely walks or adventures in the middle of the workday, and said “yes” to anything that came my way – regardless of whether I should’ve been working or not.
On the one hand, I think it was helpful to have a little time to blow off steam and celebrate taking a huge leap of faith. On the other, I see now I should’ve put in the hours, saved my money, and set myself up for some light structure.
Eventually, I learned about how a little light structure could go a long way. What does light structure look like? It’s when you organize your days, or even parts of your day, around a certain area of your business or set of tasks to do. Instead of creating 1 giant to-do list and working from the top, you can set Tuesdays as your admin day, or weekday mornings as client meeting time and afternoons as content creation and to-do list time.
Any entrepreneur knows how tough it is to have 100% consistency in your day. So having a bit of light structure might give you the direction you’re looking for in this crazy world we call entrepreneurship.
3 – Set Boundaries
When you’re self-employed or work from home, it’s hard to get everyone around you to adjust to your new life. At least for me, I went from spending a lot of hours in the office to spending 24/7 at home, working. A lot of people assumed that because I’m home, I’m not working.
As well intentioned as everyone is, it’s so important for your business’ health to set a few polite boundaries about the fact that you work from home now. This got so much easier once I set some light structure in my day. Then, I was able to say – “Thank for the invite, but I actually work on my blog posts for the week until 5:30pm on Tuesday! If you want to get together after dinner, let me know!”
It might be hard for people to accept at first, but those who care about you will understand. They’ll see your hard work, dedication and passion and say, “ahh! That’s why Sam’s been locked away at home turning down all my invites!” Once your business gets off the ground, you’ll hop right back into your normal social life.
4 – Anti-multitasking
This sounds counterintuitive, but one of the ways you can set a routine as an entrepreneur is to stop multitasking. By tackling one project at a time, you are present, focused, and will actually complete projects after you start them.
My routine felt scattered and incomplete when I hopped around from project to project, without ever actually completing one. It was hard to focus or set any sort of schedule when I felt like I had so many things started and nothing finished.
Here’s what you can do to start focusing on 1 project at a time…
- Keep 1 browser window open at a time.
- Work in small chunks of block time — 30 minutes to answer emails (and just answer emails), 45 minutes to create course content — you get the idea.
- Break larger projects into sub-tasks. For example, if you want to create a new blog post, maybe you break it into tasks such as: draft post, find photos for post, create social media images, finalize post/finish SEO, plan sharing on social media, etc.
- ‘Celebrate’ the end of each project. When I finish a project or even a large sub-task, I like to get up from my desk, walk around, go for a short walk outside, call a friend, or do something else to signal to myself that I finished one thing and I’m going to move on to the next.
5- Stagger Your Days/Weeks
One thing that’s helped many of my clients and coach-friends has been to set certain days of the week (or even certain weeks) as designated weeks for clients v. business work. For example, maybe you only schedule coaching calls on Tuesdays, Wednesdays + Thursday. Or maybe you have client calls Monday-Friday every other week, with the in between weeks being for blog posts, content creation, client development, marketing, etc.
As of today, I have certain set days to have my client appointments. That way, I know 2 days out of the week are free from client appointments so I can focus on content creation, answering emails, and marketing.
6 – Goldilocks
Just like your new routine doesn’t need to mimic your old, your routine today doesn’t need to be your routine tomorrow. Your routine can either change day-to-day, or it can change as your business grows/changes. Either way, the faster we accept the fact that our routines are always going to be different the faster we can just find something that works for us.
Because that’s the point at the end of the day: we just need to find what works for us. Not what used to work for us, not what works for our friend or neighbor – just what works for us at that moment, at that time in our business.
We have to remember why we went into this business. We chose to follow our passions, help other people, do what lights us up. At the same time, we also chose this path to make a living and have more flexibility in our day-to-day lives.
That might mean some days you play hookie and head out to lunch with friends instead of working during the day. Just because you can. And that might mean that some Sunday we hunker down in a cute coffee shop to work since we played hookie. That’s the benefit of being self-employed! We can play around with our schedules, find what works for us, and just get it done.
On the one hand, finding a routine that works for you might help you avoid entrepreneur burnout, but on the other, it’s so important to practice self-care and be patient with ourselves as we figure out the unknown.