Starting Your Day In A Way That Works For YOU
You know those articles about what such and such successful entrepreneur does for their morning routine? Yeh, I've read a ton of them. But… they never really seemed to help.
Often, they mention meditation, journaling, finding things to be grateful for, etc. etc. All very well and good in theory, but in practice, when you work from home (and are a night owl like me), those mornings sound romantic, and not at all like reality.
Since leaving our full-time office space at L’Atelier and moving into a bigger apartment this spring, I decided to give working from home another try, which meant finding a new way to start my day (also known as the dreaded morning routine.)
I had done it when there wasn’t much other option as a student and freelancer, but I had lived in a studio then. I could touch my bed from my desk, as well as my stove. It was tight quarters in my little part of the world, but I loved it.
I knew though, that working in an office wasn't quite right for me. I craved being alone, working out in the middle of the day, and returning to my desk without washing my hair.
Our work doesn't suit meeting rooms and formality. We like to sit at a coffee table, or across the table from you. We have a casual informal way of doing things that will suit our studio (with our own rules and flexible hours), so I had to go back to working from home until that becomes a reality.
But, getting up at 7am and going straight to my desk isn't exactly the best to start my day - and when your desk is in your living room, you need to figure out how to structure your day a little bit.
What does your morning look like when you don't need to commute? How was I going to set the tone for my day, feel wide awake and get into the mindset for work?
Let me tell you. It took me from April of this year, until recently, in October to figure it out. I tried various things and tested the waters to see what worked best for me. Strangely enough though, it wasn't until we got back from our trip to Europe that something clicked into place.
Being away from your normal routine has a remarkable way of showing you what you need. I took almost 4 weeks without exercising, and felt fitter and stronger. I came back from gallivanting around Britain to find that I could slip into a routine that really worked for me.
Everything I had tried throughout the year gave me the chance to naturally pick and choose the things that made me feel good, without even having to give it a conscious thought.
So? Am I meditating in the morning AND writing down the 10 things I'm grateful for? Nope.
I like to journal once in awhile and think about my goals (more on that coming soon) but what works best for me, as a business owner working from home is this:
- Get up. Stumble around trying to wake up.
- Go back to bed and read for 10 minutes while my boyfriend showers.
- Run to the bathroom to pee once he's done.
- Make breakfast.
- Read a bit more, and think about what's on my to-do list.
- Go for a walk, doing errands or getting a coffee whilst listening to my current favourite podcast.
- Return back home and dig in.
It's pretty simple, it’s pretty boring, but what I've found is that there are some key things that contribute to this structure actually being successful for me. It feels good, and that's because I found the high level elements I wanted, rather than thinking that I "should" be meditating, journalling, etc. By considering what those things had in common, I could use their benefits in my own way. Those factors are:
To think, to slowly wake up, to mentally prepare for the day.
Getting out the house first thing in the morning means that even if I have a long workday, I will have moved my body at least. Plus, I need to get some fresh air to wake up, and then it doesn't feel claustrophobic working at home.
Walking is wonderful exercise and is good for health. Even more so when you sit at a desk all day. If I can go for a walk later in the day again, I will. Or I'll make sure I walk to a meeting, cycle to an exercise class, or get moving. It's good for the mind too, make it a priority by scheduling it into your calendar. Seriously, book yourself into a class, and you have no choice but to go (particularly because Class Pass will charge you $20 if you miss the class….)
LISTENING TO ENCOURAGING WORDS
Instead of writing my own encouragement, affirmations, or gratitude list, I like to start my day listening to an inspirational business podcast. Hearing others share their stories, tactics, and strategies help me start my day on the right foot.
NO EMAILS UNTIL 10 AM (AT THE EARLIEST)
Lastly, the first thing I do on my to-do list is something creative and productive. If there's a brand on the table, I'll spend an hour or two on that first. If it's just writing a newsletter or blog post - either way it's not emails. Unless there's something urgent, I've found that emails bring my stress and anxiety. Not because anyone is sending bad emails, but just because strafing your day with someone else's demands makes you feel pulled in all sorts of distractions - and admin feels productive, but it doesn't mean you're actually producing work. If you start your day making the things you need to, you'll be in a better mood, and get more done. And genuinely, this has been the biggest game-changer for me, and the real reason that a vacation helped.
While we were away I was stubborn about not checking email regularly - all of our clients were lovely and understanding, and even prospective clients were happy to wait until we were back to schedule in a phone call.
I was able to carry that through when we returned and I cannot express how much better my days are because of it. I focus on the main tasks at hand, that really matter to the business and our clients, and everything else gets done in the afternoon.
So, that's my (new) morning routine! Like I said, it's nothing special but is amazing how small changes can really impact your day. And who knows, once this become routine, maybe I will want to add in meditation or journaling in the morning, but for now this suits me great.
What's your morning routine like? Do you work from home too? I'd love to hear what you've made work for you!
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