Here’s the thing about being able to create your own schedule:
It can be really overwhelming to figure out the best way to structure your day, build in routines, and make sure you’re not completely isolating yourself from the rest of the world.
BUT – once you get it right, everything in your life starts falling into place.
You’ve probably read (or skimmed) books like “Habits of Highly Successful People,” and “The Miracle Morning,” that say in order to be productive and successful you’ve got to basically wake up at the crack of dawn, do some meditation and movement, journal, and then start your day.
But here’s the thing: there is no ONE right way to structure your day.
I’ve spent years trying to perfect my “ideal day” to look something like this:
5 a.m. ____________ wake up, coffee, dress
5:30 – 6:30 a.m. ____________ yoga
6:30 – 7 a.m. ____________ shower / dress
7 a.m. ____________ writing / journaling / meditation
8 a.m. – noon ____________ start the day by checking email and setting up a task list for the day and working through those tasks one by one
Noon ____________ walk the dog then eat lunch that was lovingly meal prepped the night before
1 p.m. ____________ 3 p.m. client meetings
3 p.m. ____________ 4 p.m. wrap tasks and set up for the next day
4 p.m. ____________ non-work related life stuff
9:30 p.m. ____________ bedtime
For years I’ve made tiny tweaks, found ways to trick myself to get out of bed earlier, and even blocked out time on my calendar to reflect this arrangement.
Some days I nailed it.
But most days I failed.
And I almost NEVER practiced yoga (which, being able to practice yoga every day was the original reason for starting my own business in the first place).
The worst part about it was that the anxiety and self disappointment surrounding those “failed” days compromised my mood and the quality of my work.
So I finally decided to try something new, against all of the “expert advice” and “best practices.”
I decided to see what happens if I allow my day to unfold organically.
Here’s what happened:
- I chose an “anchor point” that would be my constant each day.
Since practicing yoga daily is at the center of my life goals, it was a clear winner for the anchor point. Realistically, I wasn’t going to practice solo at home, and I was having a hard time making the 6:30 a.m. classes. But 4:30 p.m. were always doable. So at 4:30 every day I will go to yoga class.
- I blocked client meetings to specific days.
It’s hard to dedicate focused time to writing when you’re bouncing in and out of client meetings and accounts. So I chose Wednesday and Fridays as my “no meeting days” and set Monday, Tuesday and Thursday so that all meetings would end before 3:30pm, giving me an hour to get ready for and get myself to yoga.
- I took an honest look at some hurdles and annoyances.
Midday hanger has been a problem point for me because I wasn’t staying dedicated to doing a week’s worth of meal prep every Sunday. Sunday is my day off and I want to have fun! So I signed up for a weekly produce delivery service called MilkRun and now get fresh food delivered each week. (Almost) every evening when I get home from yoga I make a quick, healthy dinner with enough leftovers for the next day. And when we are low on groceries or I don’t feel like making dinner, we treat ourselves to dinner out (and make sure to order enough to have leftovers)!
- I wake up around 7 or 7:30 and start the day at 8a.m.
I’m giving myself a break from thinking I have to wake up at the crack of dawn to get “ahead.” Especially in these winter months where it’s not light out until 7:30. It feels like I’m honoring the natural rhythms of my body and I’ve been more productive in the mornings (and way less stressed). I didn’t start my own business to work 40 hours per week, and I can get everything I need to do done in 30 hours/week or less.
So far, that’s where I am.
The rest of my day to day schedule is very flexible – leaving room for creativity and “off the cuff” projects and ideas.
And the really beautiful part of it all is that I have the freedom to adjust or overhaul this plan anytime I want to.
My advice to anyone struggling to build their perfect schedule:
Take an honest look at what works and what doesn’t for you. Don’t follow anyone else’s rules on what your schedule should look like. Pick the one thing that is most important for you to do each and every day and make that the anchor point of your schedule. Start and end your day at times that are convenient and productive for you. Observe how you feel, adjust as needed.
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