The Importance of Establishing a Daily Routine
Routine – I loathe this word. I still can’t quite shake the slightly rebellious nature that lies within me, despite two children, a dog and a mortgage (perhaps this is why I’m self-employed). However, through my own realisations and observations of my clients I have come to understand the importance that routine has in both personal and professional lives.
So, I have waved a very small off-white flag in surrender to routine (which you could refer to as structure) and this blog post provides some reasons as to why you might do the same.
I haven’t always been self-employed. I have spent many years working for both small and large organisations where structure and routines are usually already established, or you are there to implement them yourself within the boundaries of the organisations culture.
When you take the decision to become a self-employed person it’s up to you to make those routines, and for some people, this is far easier to do.
I think we can learn a lot from artists who are fastidious about their routines and believe it’s the best way to optimise their day and get the work done. Leo Tolstoy said “I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine.”
This is a great video by professional trombone soloist, composer and conductor Christian Lindberg on his daily routine. I love how he has recognised that his brain works best or ‘fresh’ before breakfast which is when he does his most demanding work. He also switches locations for different tasks as he believes this keeps him more focused. But what’s really interesting about this video is the actual amount of work and fitness he packs into one day – this could only be accomplished by him working out and establishing his routine.
How Can a Routine Help?
A daily routine provides structure and organization to your day, making it easier to manage your time effectively. For me there’s comfort in knowing what I need to do in advance. Routines give you a sense of control and helps you stay focused on the tasks that need to be done.
Establishing a routine helps to increase productivity and efficiency by reducing the time spent on decision-making and prioritizing tasks. Having a set schedule to follow helps you stay focused and on-task which also increases productivity. Of course, problems can (and do!) arise at short notice that need to be dealt with, but once resolved you can go back to your routine.
Improves time management
Having a daily routine allows individuals to plan their time better, prioritize tasks and allocate sufficient time to complete each task. You'll be able to better manage your time by prioritizing tasks which will in turn avoid wasting it on unimportant activities. This can lead to increased efficiency and a greater sense of accomplishment.
This isn’t the first thing you think of as a benefit when talking about routines but they can reduce stress by providing structure and order to a person's day. This is turn reduces the uncertainty and unpredictability of their work. It can also help enormously if you’re a writer and you have a deadline for your first edit. Planning how many words you must write each day can help reduce the stress and anxiety of the looming deadline which in turn might free up your thoughts to enable you write better… And of course, routines can also help you avoid the stress of last-minute deadlines or rushing to complete tasks.
Increases focus and concentration
For me this is a clear winner. A daily routine can help enhance focus and concentration by eliminating distractions and allowing you to fully engage in the task at hand.
Improves work-life balance
Many of us become self-employed to get a better work-life balance but this can easily not be the reality. A daily routine can help you create a better work-life balance by setting aside time for both work and personal activities. This can help prevent burnout and ensure that you have time for the things that matter most to you.
Routines can help you stay motivated. Knowing that you have a set plan for your day can help to keep you motivated and on track. By following a consistent daily routine, you'll have a sense of accomplishment as you complete tasks and achieve your goals. This can boost your confidence and make you feel more in control of your life.
How to create a routine
I suggest working out how you work first. What time of the day are you most efficient. It’s no use making plans to do tasks early in the morning if you’re a night owl. Do you prefer solitude and uninterrupted time. Do you have rituals? First thing I do is to sit down at my desk with a cup of tea. Next make a note of all the routine tasks that you do and start to create a schedule. You won’t get it right first time, so keep checking in with your routine and look at what’s working and what’s not.
So, routines help to maintain productivity, manage time effectively, and avoid burnout. Without a routine, it can be easy to get distracted, lose focus, and become overwhelmed with the many responsibilities of being self-employed. A routine helps you stay organized, set priorities, and allocate your time appropriately. It also helps you to establish a healthy work-life balance and maintain consistency in your work habits.
But there’s no magic routine. It’s up to you to work out what’s best for you and adjust. And don’t feel like you must go to the lengths of Beethoven who rose at dawn and made his own coffee: exactly 60 beans per cup.