This article was originally written by Sam, the founder of Movers + Makers. Sam is an Austin-based freelance writer and the founder of Movers + Makers, a website and event series for creative entrepreneurs. Find her on Instagram at @samlauron_ or @themoversandmakers.
As a creative entrepreneur, it’s often common to think that we’re most creative when we have the freedom to be. After all, one of the major appeals of working for yourself is getting away from the traditional 9-5 schedule and making your own hours.
But while the concept that as an entrepreneur “no day is the same” is appealing at first, it can end up leading you down a path with little direction.
As a freelance writer, I was also drawn to the appeal of being your own boss and making your own schedule. But what I quickly learned is that I started to crave more structure and routine in my days. In addition to writing, I have a part-time day job and also run Movers + Makers, a website and event series that focuses on sharing the stories of creative entrepreneurs. While at first I loved having a flexible schedule that allowed me to work during non traditional hours and gave me space to work on creative projects, it soon became overwhelming. With little structure, routine or specific goals in mind, I was all over the place. I found it hard to focus on anything wholeheartedly and didn’t feel my creative juices flowing when I wanted them to be.
The biggest challenges I faced were procrastination, scattered thoughts, and lack of creativity. I knew I had to do things differently if I wanted to continue to build my freelance writing career, grow Movers + Makers and ultimately make better use of my time. That’s when I decided to focus on creating a routine that would make my less than conventional schedule feel a little more efficient and allow me the time (and mental space) needed to pursue my creative work.
As much as we don’t want to admit it, creatives need structure. Here’s how having a routine can help you reach your goals, find balance, and ultimately grow your business.
With all of our endless to-do lists, there are days when it can feel like there’s never enough time to complete it all. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by all of your tasks, especially when you have so many ideas for your business. That overwhelming feeling can lead to procrastination or even overworking yourself to the point where you’re spread thin and not able to produce your best work. This can change, however, once you have a set routine in place.
By creating a routine for your work day, you’re essentially forcing yourself to get tasks done within a certain block of time, decreasing your odds of procrastinating and limiting yourself from working for hours and hours into the night (all too easy to do as an entrepreneur!). The easiest way to get more done in a shorter time frame is to write down specific, actionable goals that you want to accomplish and prioritize them within your schedule. If, for example, checking emails for an hour each morning is part of your routine, then be sure to limit yourself to only an hour and then move on. Allow your brain to switch gears and focus on a task that needs to get done that day instead of getting bogged down with something that’s not going to contribute to the day’s goal. Blocking out time to focus on the important tasks and not letting your to-do list take over can help you achieve a more balanced routine.
As business owners, I think it’s safe to say we all have the big picture in mind. There’s always a “why” to what we’re doing and the end goal is often a driving force for everything we work on. When it comes to our routines, keeping the bigger picture in mind makes it easier to focus on getting the smaller tasks done.
Take a look at your big picture goals and then break it down from there into smaller goals for the year and each month. Once you have a goal in mind that you want to accomplish for the month, then you can organize your weeks and days around that.
A good way to structure this is to have your goal for the month or week written down and then organize all of your smaller tasks around it. It’s much easier to focus on getting these small and sometimes monotonous tasks done when you know that you’re working towards reaching a bigger goal that will ultimately contribute to or benefit your overall business.
It’s been said that routines, or “boredom”, can actually benefit your creativity. When you’re bored or working on something that your mind is used to doing every day, you will feel more motivated to work on a project or task that’s more engaging and fulfilling. This bored feeling allows your mind to wander and can often spark new ideas.
Whether you batch your days (for example, dedicating Mondays and Wednesdays to meetings and Tuesday and Thursdays for marketing, etc.) or dedicate a certain time of day to work on less creative tasks, having a structured time to work on it will help you complete those to-dos in that time frame and then move on. Once you’re done, you don’t have to worry about the not-so-fun tasks and your mind will have more space and freedom to think about creative ideas. A routine makes you use your time more efficiently and gives your mind space to think instead of worrying about a to-do list with a seemingly endless amount of tasks.
Find more business and life advice for creatives as well as in-depth interviews with entrepreneurs at themoversandmakers.com.
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