I think there is a somewhat romanticized idea of what being an entrepreneur is - especially a solopreneur with an online business. What I mean is that a lot of people think that being your own boss and working a lot from home equals long sleep-ins, vacations whenever, pyjamas all day (well, that might be true) - all in all a pretty chilled out and even lazy life.
I’m not saying that it isn’t a privilege to be able to work from home, be your own boss, and sometimes not get dressed until noon. But, it takes a hell a lot of work to get there, and that tends to be forgotten. Building a profitable business from scratch is not easy. You have to invest a lot of time, sweat and sometimes also tears to make it work. But, when you believe in something and you love what you do, you gladly put all that effort in to it.
After running my business for about one and a half years, I’ve learned a thing or two. I’m far, far from a pro, I’m still learning and getting better at this, but I’ve learned a lot during this time. Both about being an entrepreneur (no one’s gonna do the work for you) and about myself.
One thing I’ve learned is that having routines is key. Whenever I stop with them I find myself lost and I don’t know what to do. You can read more about that in my blog post from August this year, when I re-evaluated my business and got back to my routines. Another thing I’ve come to realize is that my mornings are holy.
I’ve always been a morning person. I love to get up early, when it’s still dark outside, light up a few candles and start working. Without really knowing about it, I’ve developed a morning routine that I can now not live without. That might be a slight overstatement, but let’s at least say that this routine is very important.
I think that if you’re self-managing your time, routines are absolutely crucial. Especially if you’re not that good at self-managing your time, aka you tend to do everything but working during your day. Like I said, to me, mornings are super important. If my morning is productive and inspiring, the rest of the day is too. On the other hand, if I haven’t got anything done by 10 am, the whole day tends to continue this way - I’ll stay unproductive, lost and when the day has come to an end I’ll sit there and wonder what happened to those 8-10 hours when I was supposed to be working.
Of course, some people are true night owls and prefer to work late at night, but that doesn’t work for me. My evenings are work-free (something I’ve learned the importance of during my time as a freelancer) since my number one priority is to hang out with my bf, wind down and relax. If I don’t, the next day will be all messed up. I’ll be tired in the morning, hence I won’t start working until late and then I have to work in the evening just to get anything done. And then you’re stuck. So, in order to keep my evenings free so that I can hang out with my little family, my mornings must be productive and I need to get things done.
I decided to share my ”schedule” with you guys, just so that you can get a feeling for what my days (mornings) usually look like. It’s not like I follow this by the minute, but it roughly looks something like this:
My morning routine
6.00 am - wake up, get out of bed, wash my face, prepare breakfast.
6.20 am - breakfast with bf.
6.45 am - talk with bf as he gets ready for the day, I prepare my matcha latte.
7.00 am - bf leaves for work after a very long kiss-goodbye-ritual + waving in the window. This little routine that we have is ofc one of the most important things during my morning. It’s the little things, you know.
7.10 am - lightening a candle on my desk (the one I have right now smells of wood <3), turning on the computer, sipping on my cup of matcha latte, opening up Pinterest. I need to start my day in a creative and inspired way, and randomly browsing around Pinterest is my solution. I pin whatever I like, save images to my mood board, and I just feel how the creative part of my brain starts to wake up.
7.30 am - my cup of matcha is empty, so I go and get a big glass of water, which I refill at least three times before lunch. Then I open up my bullet journal and check my to-do-list for the day. Since I always plan my days in advance, I know what to do first thing in the morning. I go through the list just to remind me what I have to do.
7.45 am - I open the email app on my computer, answer any new emails I’ve gotten since yesterday, and if I have any emails to write during the day, I write + send them at this time. It gives the recipient the entire day to answer it and I can check these easy tasks off my to do-list. When all emails are answered and written + sent, I close the email app and I don’t open it again until after my lunch break. Read more about the reason behind this in this blog post about productivity.
8.00 am - I get ready for my day, i.e. brush teeth, brush hair, put some makeup on (sometimes I don’t) and get properly dressed (comfy yet presentable, aka yoga pants/leggings + knitted sweater).
8.15 am - I start to work. I usually start with the biggest task on my to do-list, just to get it over with. Sometimes I listen to music or a podcast while working, but most of the time I just enjoy the silence. What I do is very different, sometimes I bake something, sometimes I write blog posts and sometimes I photograph all morning and about once a month it’s accounting day (blah!). No matter what I do, it’s all part of a plan. Since this post is all about routines and doing the work, I thought I should also share the strategy I use for planning my days. Let’s have a look, shall we?
The time block strategy - how I plan my days
When I plan my days, I often use a block strategy (just made that name up). Pretty much the same thing as the schedules you got in school back in the days - one hour maths, one hour geography, two hours of exercise. Remember? I simply dedicate one, two or three hours to a project, like writing blog posts, test a new recipe, shoot a new recipe and so on. This works very well for me, I know when I’ll work with different things and how long I have to get as much done as possible. It motivates me to work harder because I know that in a couple of hours I have to work with something else.
As we all know, things happen. Things you have to deal with more or less right away. For all these unpredictable tasks I reserve one hour each day where I can take care of them. Knowing that I have time for these things makes me less stressed and I can often avoid working over-time because I’m prepared for them to come. If nothing happens, I can just use this ”extra” hour to work on the project that needs it the most.
I also make sure to have some time each week where I’m allowed to be creative. Mostly, I dedicate a couple, maybe three hours, for this. During this time I am free to do what I want - print out mood boards, brainstorm new blog post ideas or just go out for a walk to find new inspiration. No to-do lists, no emails - just me and my creativity getting to work together.
I always plan the coming week on Friday afternoon. This is how I do it:
I open up a new page in my bullet journal, write down the month and week and maybe I even draw something. Bonus: I get to practice my handwriting skills.
Then I check my calendar. Do I have any meetings, events or appointments? These are often planned beforehand so I always know about them the week before.
I go back to my BJ, and start making a list (using small boxes in front of each task). I write down every meeting/event/appointment (as separate tasks).
Then I start thinking about what I have to do to keep my blog and business running. I write each task down; like writing two blog posts, photographing one blog post, cooking + styling + shooting 5 recipes for a client, accounting etc. Every single thing goes on that list.
I open up my calendar again and start planning. I know how much time I usually spend on blog post writing, photo editing etc. so I build my week around the meetings and appointments that I have already written down. This is the most tricky part. You also have to take deadlines and mistakes in consideration, so if I have a deadline on Monday I don’t cook and photograph the recipes on Friday. Obviously.
When I’m done with the overall structure, I make sure to reserve the one hour for unpredicted happenings every day. I also make sure that I have time to answer emails, post on social media and answer comments every day. Maybe I realize that I have to move a few tasks around and in that case I do so.
When I’m happy with my schedule, I bring out my markers and draw lines in different colors, just to make it clear where one block starts and another one ends. Blog post writing is always marked with pink lines, while photographing comes in yellow. I think the colors make it easier to get an overview of the week and all the blocks.
When this is done, I feel ready and prepared for a new week. When I open up my calendar on Monday morning I immediately see what I have to do and I don’t waste any time. When a task is completed, I check the box in my bullet journal and when the week has come to end, every box should be checked off. I love to use my bullet journal for this, it helps me make sure I don’t forget about anything.
Phew! This turned out to be a very long blog post, but I hope this can help some of you to start planning your days and get more stuff done. Let me know if you have any questions, and if you like this post feel free to share it or leave a comment below.