How to Build Structure Into Your Day as a Freelancer
So here's the thing—I thrive in structured environments.
I know that this tends to get a bad rep. People want to be individualistic and fight the man. There's a huge cultural emphasis on "breaking the routine." Structure, in general, is frowned upon, especially among freelancers who want to work in their pajamas at any hour of the day.
However, I am certain that we can all benefit from structure and routine. I know for sure that I flonder if I don't have any specific things that I have to do every day and can confidently say that almost every other person in my life is the same way.
Why? Well, when you don't have structure, you get distracted. If you say to yourself, "okay, I want to work 6 hours today but it doesn't matter WHICH six they are," you're going to fail. You're going to say "Well okay, I'll start in an hour and watch TV." or "I'll feel better after dinner I just want to hang out right now."
The day then eventually slips by and you've done nothing but watch NCIS reruns and eaten trail mix on the couch (I'm speaking from personal experience here).
When you have to get up and go to work every day, it makes a difference. My boyfriend is a great example: he has to get up by 8:00 in the morning so that he can be at work by 10:00. He then has a kick ass day at his job, gets on the train at 6:08 p.m., then comes home and cooks with me then watches TV or does personal projects. He has to get up in the morning, take a shower, and actually get started on his day.
As a freelancer, I have nobody telling me when I need to be at work or what I need to wear. As a result, I sometimes stay in bed until 9:30 watching Snapchat Discover stories and saying it's going to be fine. My day always falls behind me and it's really frustrating.
That's why I've had to get good at building my own structure.
Building a structure is easy, sticking to your plan is the hard part. When you don't have a boss telling you what to do it's easy to say "Today I'll take the day off." Here's three easy tips to help avoid all of that!
1. Get up and exercise
I know I'm a morning person naturally, so it's easier for me to do this than others. However, I think exercising in the morning is the best way to wake your brain up and get your ass out of bed.
My most productive days are when I wake up at 6:00 and do a workout that makes me sweat. Whether it's a short run or an intense yoga class, it helps me shake the sleep off and get excited about my day. After my workout I don't want to go back to bed—I want to shower, eat breakfast, and then start working.
You don't need to be a crazy person and wake up at 6:00 to do hot yoga like me. But if you wake up and stretch okay and do some light cardio, you'll be way less likely to get back under the covers.
2. Plan Your Week
I spend Sundays doing a lot of preparing and planning for the week. I meal plan and prep, look at my due dates and assignments, and see if there are any appointments that I need to remember. I've found that taking a couple of hours to do this on Sunday increases my chances of success significantly. I also write everything down ahead of time.
3. Be Consistent
This is a relatively new one to me, and something that's been a game changer. Staying consistent in my schedule has been helping me reach all of my goals so far.
I've started working every day from 9:00-5:00. This means I wake up at 6:00, go for a run, shower, change, eat breakfast, have time for personal work or things that I need to do, and then have a set start time for my job. I then work a full 8 hours on things that are related to my business, and at 5:00 I shut my computer off and go home to workout, cook, and hang out with my boyfriend.
Treating my freelance business like a regular full-time job has worked WONDERS for me. Not only do I stay more focused during the working hours, I also have a set time to turn off the computer and leave the work behind. I think that this is a huge problem for many freelancers who can get sucked into the trap of working all the time, and it allows me ample time to pursue hobbies and hang out with friends.
There you have it! Three easy tips for building structure into your day as a freelancer.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!