Since becoming self employed, one of the biggest challenges has been to find a good morning routine. After all, I am now in charge of my own hours, and I’m completely free in deciding what to do and when to do it. That huge amount of freedom meant I had to become way more disciplined than I was before. In this blogpost I’m sharing five tips for a productive morning routine.
Find your pace
Step one is finding a pace that you are happy with. I personally LOVE slow mornings. I wake up early and make myself a really strong cup of tea (with milk and sugar, obv). Usually the cat is bursting to go outside so I sit downstairs for a while, sometimes with my laptop, sometimes with a sample I need to work on, and make sure the cat doesn’t escape. After finishing my first cup of tea I have some breakfast, I let the cat in, and go upstairs to my studio, where I then ‘properly’ begin my work day.
Some people might want to go for a walk first thing in the morning while others enjoy snoozing for a bit. Some people want to take a shower in the morning whereas others may function best while still in their pyjamas. There’s no right or wrong here, just see what feels right for you.
Every morning I try to do a bit of journaling. Sometimes I forget or do it later in the day, but I find it helps best when I do it early in the morning as soon as I’m at my desk. Some days I might write gratitudes – things you are grateful for that day. It might be really simple like being grateful for your favourite flavour of tea, kitty cuddles, or sunshine. Or they could be bigger things, such as having supportive friends, being able to put food on the table, or receiving some awesome feedback from a customer. Almost every day, I write down that I’m grateful for being able to do things at my own pace.
Some days I might do what’s called a ‘brain dump’ instead. Did you wake up feeling a little ‘off’? Go and write about it, and explore where that feeling comes from. Maybe it’s from this one negative comment you got amongst a sea of positive comments, or maybe it’s because you’ve been putting off writing that particular email that you’ve already put off for too long so you’re already embarrassed.. When you figure out why you’re feeling a certain way, you will usually have the tools to do something about it.
Other days, I might sit down and write about my dreams. I’ve been following a business course and one of the assignments so far is to set our DREAM income, and then imagine how you feel when you’ve made that dream income for 12 months in a row. How does your business look? Do you have employees? What does your house look like? How do you feel? Are you working less hours? That kind of stuff. It’s really magical to start your day with positive energy like this.
Clean up your work space
This might be really silly as I’m the messiest person EVER. The ‘normal’ state of my desk is probably horrifying to most, but even I get fed up with a messy desk sometimes. The tidier your desk, the less distractions you’ll have. I’ll come back to that point later. And by tidy or clean I don’t mean it all has to be one colour like in the picture, although for some people I suppose that might work very calming. My studio is an explosion of colour, and I intend to keep it that way! The point is that in your workspace, try to only have things on your desk that you actually need for that activity. I sometimes have knit samples on my desk for weeks, while I should only take them out whenever I’m actually working on them.
A lot of what’s on my desk are things I find difficult to clean up, in the sense that I don’t have a good spot for them in my closet, or maybe I don’t have enough closet space. In that case, go through your closets every once in a while and see what’s in there that you’re not using everyday. I mean, I have a glue gun in there somewhere I’m only using for making christmas wreaths, so I could totally store it in the attic together with christmas stuff. See what I mean? You don’t have to go full Marie Kondo on your studio, but a lot of the stuff you might have in your workspace are not necessary on a day to day basis.
Plan your week
Every Monday morning, I sit down and plan the entire week. An Instagram post each day, spreading out admin stuff across the week, editing a tutorial video on that day, working on a pattern the other day.. The key for me is to never do too much of the same thing each day. As you might have heard me say before, I like colour coding my activities. I’ve divided them into five categories:
Product Development – editing video’s, working on patterns, writing blogposts..
Marketing & Community – publishing an Instagram post, writing a newsletter, promoting something on Facebook, replying to comments
Admin – emails, placing an order for yarn to dye, posting orders in the mail, SEO-optimizing my website
Research & Education – market research, listening to business podcast, doing my business course homework
Self Care – writing gratitudes, taking a walk, taking a long bath, taking the afternoon off if I need to
These are my five categories, and because of the colour coding I can easily see if I’ve planned too much admin in one day, or where I could squeeze in a bit of marketing for example. It really helps me stay focused and not run around like a headless chicken just seeing what’s in front of me and not seeing the bigger picture.
If you are self employed, the risk of being distracted is HUGE. Of course you have your phone within arms reach at all times, and each time you’re reading a new email you find yourself just casually checking Instagram, then scrolling for 15 minutes.. I mean, I’ve been there! I realized I often reach for my phone in search of distraction when I’m faced with a task I really don’t want to do. Writing a difficult email? Oop, there’s my phone! Getting stuck in some pattern calculations? Yep, reaching for my phone again. Other times, I’m reaching for my phone to actually do business related things, like look up an address for a package I’m about to send, and poof, I lose myself in Instagram stories again.
What can you do to prevent, or let’s be a bit more realistic, minimize this? For whatever business stuff you use your phone, try to use your laptop instead. Reading new emails? Use your laptop instead of your phone. Need a calculator? Actually use a physicial calculator instead of the one on your phone. My new phone has this handy thing called ‘digital wellbeing’, where I can install ‘focus time’. During that time, my phone screen goes greyscale and I’m not receiving any notifications unless I open the app specifically. I’m still trying it out, but my screen being in black and white definitely makes Instagram a lot less attractive!
I hope you found these tips helpful, be sure to share your tips below!
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