Why Establishing A Routine Is The Key To Success When You Work From Home
Routines are really hard for me. I’ll be the first one to say it. So, read this knowing that I spent years resisting the very advice I’m about to give you, which is this:
Routines are essential for success if you work from home.
When I first started working from home I basically threw my hands in the air when it came to keeping a routine. I slept in as late as my body wanted, I took breaks whenever I wanted, I stayed in my PJ’s all day… it was pretty fabulous. I was so tired of the corporate world dictating how I should live my day, how long I should spend working, and when I could eat. I was ready for total control of my life; to live it exactly the way I wanted.
And so I did that - whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But the reality turned out to be that I walked straight to my computer the moment I woke up. I often forgot to eat meals regularly - usually only once a day. Pretty quickly I found myself working even longer hours than I had in my cubicle. And my social life? Ha. Who had time for that?
After a while I found that I wasn’t quite loving the entrepreneur life the way I thought I would. I felt frumpy, tired, unhealthy, and unproductive. I knew I could do better, and I knew I deserved better for myself.
Enter: The Routine.
It didn’t happen overnight and at first I didn’t even consciously realize I that what I was doing was establishing a routine! I just thought, “okay - what if I just took some time for ME in the morning before sitting at the computer?” Because when I worked outside of the home, I had moments of space in between crawling out of the blankets and sitting down at my desk. By the time I arrived at work I had showered, gotten dressed, had breakfast, enjoyed some quiet time in the Jeep on the commute, drank some coffee, and maybe chatted with people for a few minutes while putting my lunch in the fridge. What was so bad about that part of corporate me? Nothing! I was seriously missing that “me” time and that feeling of being put together.
No, I don’t work in a pencil skirt and cute blouse in my home office. In fact, I’m writing this while lounging on my couch in leggings and one of my favorite old t-shirts (what? It’s Sunday). But most days I do pull on a pair of jeans and a shirt I wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear in public. For me, it’s all about shifting my mentality from “lazy Sunday every day” to “I’m ready to ‘go’ to work now.” And that’s just one example! As time has gone on, I’ve actually developed a whole routine from the moment I wake up, to the moment I lay my head down on my pillow (at a decent hour, I might add).
What I’m finding is that I’m far more productive, my work is being produced at a higher quality, my self-confidence is up, I’m sleeping better, and hey! I’m even feeding myself three square meals a day. What up, self-care? *high five*
So how can you establish a routine that doesn’t stink of your old corporate life, but keeps you on track as an at-home entrepreneur?
Choose your non-negotiables.
For me, it’s 3 hours of “me” time in the morning (from 6-9am); breakfast, lunch, and dinner, a set bedtime, and days off. Since I run two businesses, I actually schedule one hour in the morning for creative tasks for Biz #2, and one hour at night for training - that way I’m certain I’m putting time in on that business, too. Basically, pick the absolutely critical things in your life that you cannot skip. Gotta get your kid to practice? Write it in. Have (or WANT) a weekly massage appointment? (Hashtag jealous). Write it in. Go to church on Sunday? Write it in. You get the idea. These are things you are unwilling to skip
Choose your “menu” of things you like to do.
I like thinking of this like a menu because then every day I can sit down and pick a few things to do during certain times of my day and it doesn’t have to be the same all the time. For instance, my morning menu has things like: meditation, visualization, revisiting goals, writing in my journal, creating a vision board, pulling a tarot card of the day, stretching, reading a few pages of Rumi, play some relaxing instrumental music, etc. The point is not to cram all of them in every morning. That would suck all the enjoyment out. Instead, pay attention to what your mind, body, and soul are asking you for that day.
Set some office hours.
Listen, I was really really opposed to this for such a long time. I thought I was perfectly okay just setting some boundaries and floating on through. I would say to myself, “My clients know I’m not a morning person, and after 8pm I’ll just shut everything down and stop answering until I get up the next day. It’s fine.” It was NOT fine. I was waking up at 11, 2, 12:30, 1… trying to pour some coffee down my throat so I could open my email and hope that no one knew how late I’d slept.
Initially I thought setting office hours HAD to mean Monday-Friday, 9-5pm. What I’d like to suggest instead is that if those hours are not your jam, don’t work them. Me? I don’t really enjoy speaking with other humans before 11am. So I don’t. I don’t want to work full 8 hour days. And I don’t even want to work 5 days a week. So I work 6 hours a day, 4 days a week. At the moment, I take Tuesdays “off” and work on my second business for 6 hours. What I’ve realized is this: There is always enough work to fill 24 hours a day if you let it. By limiting my hours like this, I still get a ton of things accomplished. I’m just doing it in a more highly focused manner because I know at the end of my six hours, that’s it for the day.
Leave “white space” in your calendar.
I’ve tried packing a tight schedule and it just stresses me out and makes me feel like a failure if I can’t stick to it. This time around, I’ve left gaps in my schedule, so that way if I want to step out and go for a walk around the block, or if I need to run to the store, or if my mom IMs me, it’s no big deal. I can take care of life as it happens, and it doesn’t “mess up” my day.
That’s it! My four simple tips to setting up an easy-to-keep routine that works for you. We'd love to hear if you gave this a shot and how it worked out for you!
About The Author
Jamie-Lynn is the owner of Mindful Manipura. She is passionate about helping others through their journey of self-discovery through the use of tools like astrology, tarot readings, and essential oils. She lives in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with her two fur baby guinea pigs, Homer and Porter.