How to Set a Daily Routine + Why it's Important for Creatives
We all have a finite amount of brain power to spend on each day, some days it might be more and some days it might be less but either way it’s finite. Think of it as a tank of petrol.
Having a routine means that you waste less brain-petrol on planning your day and deciding what to do
Having a set routine takes the thinking out of planning your day and working out what needs to be done and when. It’s why some politicians wear the same suit every day – with so many decisions to make already, deciding what to wear is one less decision that’s emptying that limited tank of petrol. Here's what Barack Obama has to say on the subject of routines (from this article by Vanity Fair):
“You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,” [Obama] said. “I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
He also said this which is just gold and defines exactly why creatives need a routine, so you can save your brain power for creativity. If you need a reminder to help you keep on track with your routine, how about pinning this quote for later:
Now, obviously it’s not going to be possible to stick to the same routine every day because, well life happens. But, if you have a loose routine it helps to take the thinking out of the every day trivia (as Obama puts it)!
Here are a few pointers to get you started with setting up a basic daily routine
Are you a morning person?
Decide on when you’re most productive, it could be morning, afternoon or evening.
[side note] I consider myself a morning person but I generally don't get out of bed before 8. The point is, I'm not one of those people who jumps out of bed at 5am (I have a friend who does) but I still consider myself a morning person because I do my best work between 10am - 2pm.
So that’s when I tend to get the stuff done that requires real brain power. I also try to save working on things that I really enjoy for the afternoons so that I look forward to them and they’re easier to get started with when I’m not feeling as productive.
If you’re more of an afternoon or evening person, maybe you don't want to start work until 11am and break into the day slowly with the stuff you can do on auto-pilot, like packaging orders or responding to messages on your social media channels; leaving the work that requires more brain power for the afternoon or evening.
What do you need to work around in your lifestyle?
When does your lifestyle allow you to work? Do you have young children, a team or another job to work around?
If you have young kids, evening might be your time, it might be a good time to have a cup of tea and sit down to respond to emails or list new products in your shop. Have a think about where those pockets of time are that you can use.
Which tasks can you batch?
I find I can get into a task when I’ve batched things together. This applies to my daily and monthly routine. There are two reasons why batching together tasks is helpful, firstly it saves time but also it helps with the brain power thing. Have you ever had a day where you’re jumping from task to task and at the end of the day you feel exhausted?
Here are some examples of the things you can batch together which will save you time in the long run:
Making products - this is the first and most obvious thing to batch if you’re a maker. Within the process of making one product there will be various stages. For example you could cut out enough template pieces for 10 products in one go. This is a big time saver because you’re not having to get out and put away different tools and machinery
Emails – definitely decide when you’re going to reply to emails each day so that you're not constantly checking them and being a slave to your inbox. Try not to plan them in for your peak productivity times – that time is really special and should be saved for creative tasks that need your brain power
Packaging and posting orders – this can be a real time-sap. So, if you decide you’re going to package up and post orders on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday you’ve then got some days where you don’t have to even think about it. Just make it clear on your shop that you post orders out three days a week.
Writing social posts – social media is one of the best places to market your business. If you sit down and plan your social media posts out for the week or month all in one go it’ll not only leave you feeling extremely smug that you’ve got everything planned out but you’ll also create a more well thought out series of posts and save lots of time
Writing blog content – similarly to the above, blogging is a great way to engage your audience and for more people to find out about your business. If you were planning on writing a blog post a week you could write all four blog posts for the month in one go
What can you outsource?
I talk about outsourcing a lot because it's so important for creative business owners to delegate. We can't be experts in everything, yet running your own business sometimes feels like you need to be. Have a think about what tasks are taking up brain power that you could outsource, could it me making up labels, designing new branding, packaging orders? This also doesn't need to be restricted to your business, you could get a cleaner for your home or lift share with another parent at your kid's school so you only have to do the school pick up every other day.
[OVER TO YOU]
- Write out a daily routine that you think will work for you, use a weekly planner if you think that would help.
- Road-test your routine for a month, make tweaks as you go along and after a while you’ll start to establish something that works for you.
- Remember, your routine doesn't need to be an hour by hour account of what you'll be doing, it just needs to be a loose routine that will become second nature after a while.