For many small business owners, creating routines is very important to productivity and focus. Without someone else dictating a traditional workday, it's up to us to define what these routines look like and how strictly we stick to them.
Personally, I find some structure in routine but I don't tend to have the same day very often. Part of it is my deep love of variety and part of it is due to the varied shape of my client base and the various projects I have on at any given time.
So, if there was a typical day for me, it might include some or all of the following...
Start by being woken up by my husband's alarm. Get up and have breakfast and coffee with him then I take our dog out for a walk in the neighbourhood.
If I have meetings or errands in town, I'll generally go and work from Manifold Coworking Space otherwise I'll make my way to my home office. On a good day this happens by 8am but as long as I'm parked at my laptop by 9am, I am happy with that.
If I have a big project on, I'll try to begin with an hour of work on that before getting into my inbox. That just allows me to focus on the project without thinking of what else is happening.
I spend 30-60 minutes in my email inbox over a usual day - split into two 15-30 minute blocks except for when I'm finished a task and updating a client.
I'll have a few meetings a week usually to meet with potential clients, work with existing clients or with those I collaborate with on other events and projects. These can take place at the coworking space or in the client space so might include some travel time to and from. Sometimes it'll be on-site photos needed for social media posts.
There's usually 3-5 hours of client work (depending how many meetings I have that day!) so I'll try to group that into larger blocks of time unless there are small tasks required that need to be done outside of other blocks of work.
Gosh, it sounds a lot less varied than it is! Of course some days there are lunches with friends, or random stops at the specialty cheese shop because I'm in that part of town. Or personal appointments or early knock off times. On a sunny day, a walk on the walkway can often be fit in!
For those of us that have years of working life behind us in a more traditional 9-5 timeframe, it can be difficult to retrain your brain to give yourself permission to shift into other hours, to work fewer hours and to open up to doing non-work stuff in the middle of the day! But each time you do it, the easier it becomes so I'm working towards making it as flexible as I want it to be.
I try to follow my energy in choosing what client work I do each day - if I know more creativity is required, I'll book that in the morning whereas more routine or less-demanding tasks I tend to shift towards the end of a day. But of course deadlines and meetings affect how flexible I can be sometimes.
My go-to tools that shape each day are my Google calendar and Asana. I review my Asana tasks and book time for the client work through the week - this is changing all the time as I'm adjusting my schedule but I always look at the following day as I'm winding up a workday. This allows me to make changes to fit things that needed more time or to assess where I'll be working and what works best. Of course I also have my recurring time blocks guiding ongoing work and ongoing tasks for my business.
I'm curious how other solo-entrepreneurs manage their time and their days. Do you feed off routine? Does each day shape itself? Do you have some anchors in your week like standing meetings with others or something else that never changes time slot? Tell me about how you work in the comments, maybe we can learn something from you!