“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”
How many times have you planned to do something but just haven’t been able to get started? It can be extremely difficult for many of us and why deadlines can be so useful at getting things done. But relying on deadlines isn’t the most productive way to be when there’s something much better out there – routine.
Looking back on your childhood, particularly your time spent at school, do you ever wonder how you managed to fit everything in? You had five or six lessons a day, lunch, after school activities, homework and you still had time to spend with family and friends, right?
It was all down to a routine. You knew what you had to do, there were allocated times to do it and even though the school holidays threw a spanner in the works, it was ok because you’d soon be back at school again.
Except now, you’re not.
So, here are my tips for establishing a routine that’ll benefit your business and help you get that work/life balance right.
Plan out your day and create a schedule
Remember those timetables you couldn’t wait to get your hands on at the start of term? While it might not be as exciting today, you should still break up your day into activities, such as:
- Before school time/before work
- Work time
- Lunch hour
- Work time
- After school/after work
- Family time/personal time
- Relaxation time
Your day might look different, but you should be able to see that there’s a set time for everything, and that’s the important part here. When you know what you should be doing and when it’s much easier for your mind to kick into gear and get started.
Of course, Covid-19 is making routines difficult to manage right now, especially when the lockdown rules seem to be ever-changing. You can still allocate time each day to key areas but build in some flexibility and be aware that things might take twice as long to do with your family at home or other responsibilities to deal with.
Having a contingency plan in place for occasions where it’s impossible to work or you need to outsource to a trusted professional is worth setting up now if you haven’t already.
Set boundaries and stick to them
One of the biggest problems for business owners trying to keep to a routine, especially if you work from home, is other people interrupting your plans. When you’re working you need to be present and concentrating on the task at hand, not distracted by family members asking for help, the ping of your email inbox and unexpected phone calls.
Make sure everyone around you knows what your boundaries are – if it’s 10 am on a weekday then it’s ok to put up a sign saying “do not disturb unless it’s an emergency” (and make it clear what an emergency is!).
Setting boundaries with yourself is also important. Are you guilty of checking your work email one last time before bed? How about checking your phone every 5 minutes late into the night?
Disable notifications after 9 pm (or whenever you feel is right for you), turn off your computer and keep the technology out of your bedroom! You’ll feel so much better for it.
Define your working day by looking after you
Another challenge I hear from fellow business owners is that it’s never clear when the working day starts and finishes.
When you are employed and go to work, you have some form of commute to and from work. You maybe buy lunch or a coffee along the way and stop off to pick up dinner on the way back, etc. Whatever it is, there’s a transition period between home, and work.
That transition period is often missing when you work for yourself and time blurs into one, which is why it can be difficult to get started on things (and wrap up at the end of the day!)
A virtual commute can be a good idea and one of the simplest ways to achieve this is by doing some exercise. Replace that commute with a walk or jog around your neighbourhood first thing and perhaps delve into an exercise class or yoga session to end the day? A mental exercise is a great option too – I find journaling can be a fantastic way to start and end the day.
Outsource your pain points so you can concentrate on what you love to do
Getting started on the tasks you just don’t want to do is always going to be difficult. If your heart isn’t in it then you’re going to struggle to get started and complete those chores.
Figuring out those nightmare tasks and removing them from your schedule by outsourcing to a trusted professional can be one of the best things you do for yourself and your business. By freeing up your time to concentrate on what you do best, you’re going to be more productive as you enjoy the tasks left for you.
I hope you found this blog helpful and has given you some ideas on how to be more productive at home and at work by establishing a routine. If you’re interested in outsourcing some of your business tasks, do get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how myself and my team can help you with that.