The entrepreneur is a productive rule-breaker. They redefine the mould and push others to rethink their vision of what is. But in breaking through prescribed patterns, the entrepreneur finds herself in a world of uncertainty. Taking risks is part of the lifestyle. More uncertainty, however, means more stress. This is why we need routines.
Entrepreneurs need routines because they provide stability in an unstable world. A routine is, by definition, a structure to your day/week/month/year. A cup of tea every afternoon, a call with your accountant the first week of the month, a daily podcast during your commute, going to the same coworking space everyday - these are all examples.
Why Have a Routine?
In short, it's all about the benefits. When she doesn't have a routine, the entrepreneur may find herself swimming in a ocean of stress. Poor sleep, poor eating habits, poor physical health, and all this usually leads to ineffective uses of her time. We've all been there!
Productive routines lead to decreased stress: Less uncertainty in what you'll do everyday - You've already streamlined you choices. This, in turn, means better focus, more organization, more productivity. Not to mention better sleep & better health.
If you want productivity, it means looking at your day and seeing how to incorporate healthy choices. What do I mean by "healthy"? Food that's high in nutritional value, exercise to get your heart pumping, and education to bring you new ideas and to feed your creativity.
In building a routine, the entrepreneur limits the choices she has to make. If you always eat yogurt mixed with fruit and muesli in the morning, then there's no need to check the cupboards and decide at 7:00 am. It might seem laughable, but think of all these micro-decisions you have to make in a day. That time and mental charge adds up! Think of the days before coworking spaces! You'd have to stop by multiple cafes just to find a place to sit!
Morning, Day & Night
The entrepreneur needs to find a productive routine. A productive routine is not just repetition of the same old habits. It requires reflection and planning. Most of all, it requires perseverance. So, get ready to succeed, fail, succeed, fail, succeed - on repeat until your routine is just that: your routine.
Morning - Start your day with a defined alarm. (Set your internal clock.) Eat a healthy breakfast. Yes, the muesli, yogurt mix is my personal choice because I can constantly switch out the fruits when the pattern needs a change-up. Throw in a bit of yoga or go for a short run to energize yourself for the day. A 5-minute meditation at the end or half-way through will help center you. There are so many benefits to meditation, you'll have to try for yourself and see the results. Then, on your way to your favorite coworking space, listen to a podcast (I recommend Reclaiming Our Joy or Akimbo) and feed your mind.
Day - Now, every entrepreneur has different daily work schedules. Mine usually starts with opening my daily websites (Slack, Asana, Wix, Instagram), checking my email, then reviewing my calendar and to-do list.
Here's the thing I've been told continuously: Eat the frog first. Start your workday with the least appealing task you have, so that it is done and over with. No need to stress over the same thing all day long. Do it first.
Night - This is when self-care comes into play. Your work day is over and it's time for your mental health check in. When you arrive home, try a set dinner time to keep balance in your day. Find a moment where you can grab an interesting book (How Was It for You? by Virginia Nicholson). Take a bath. Play with your children. Whatever it is that helps you destress, this is the moment. Then, wrap up your day by choosing your clothes for the next day and going to bed at a consistent time.
Why Is It Difficult to Keep a Routine?
Because we're all just human. Try as you may, it it difficult to teach ourselves new patterns. It's easy to set an ideal list of things to do in a day, but I think we all know it's another to keep it up.
Here's the thing, you're going to fail. What matters is that you keep trying. When you first create a routine, you're going to need to periodically adapt it. Figure out what isn't working for you. Adjust.
Going in, you should remember that it's all a process until it's a habit. There's no 21 day solution to having a perfect routine - it's just about trying to be consistent until one day you no longer have to think about it.
To recap: a good routine incorporates stability, healthy lifestyle choices, education and self-care practices. You'll increase your sense of stability and give yourself a clearer mind. That means more space in your brain to problem solve in your business.