When working on your own and having no leadership to create your schedule, it is crucial to building a solid daily routine that helps you stay productive and achieve the goals you set.
For me, the most challenging part with a transition from working in a regular job to being a freelancer or digital nomad was precisely that: daily routine to help me plan and empower me to finish my tasks.
I have two different projects that I'm working on. One is online customer support for an SEO company, and the other is producing content and building this site.
There is a big difference in how I approach these two. I have certain obligations with customer support, and I am expected to cover certain hours per day, as I'm directly compensated for my work. Also, this is my routine job. I'm familiar with most of the tasks as I have worked in customer support for over ten years now, and I can do this job no matter my energy levels.
On the other hand, producing content is something new for me. I never did it before I started freelancing; it's not a routine. I have all the freedom to create as I want. And usually, when I have too much space, I can quickly start to procrastinate.
To fight this and bring my content production to the level of customer service and create long-lasting writing habits, I'm trying a new morning routine challenge. Since it is always hard to start and keep with new daily habits, Leo and I decided to do it together to be accountable. Our morning routines are a bit different, but aiming to the same goal: to become a content-producing machine. Combined with our Q4 iteration of OKRs, we are well set to finish our year strong.
The routine I'm trying now looks very promising; it's my fourth week, and I feel good and on track every day. Most importantly, I'm feeling accomplished before noon already. It is combined with building productivity and healthy habits.
My routine can be divided into two parts and is as follows:
- I'm not bringing my phone to the bed. This combines morning and bedtime routine, as it prevents me from endlessly scrolling through social media before I go to bed and first thing when I open my eyes in the morning.
- I have a smart alarm on my watch that wakes me up at the optimal time from 7.30 - 8.00. I leave the bed without snoozing for several minutes. I was always a morning person, but this changed a bit when working a couple of years ago for an American company when I started to work at 2 pm, and now when I'm a freelancer.
- I prepare coffee. Meanwhile, I do 10 min back exercise and 10 min power exercise. I feel better if I start the day with little physical activity to make the blood moving.
- After that, I take my coffee, grab my phone (the first time in the day), and start practicing Duolingo (at the moment, Spanish language).
- After completing the first part of the morning routine, I continue with my challenge and start writing my 500 words for the day, as I want to be done before lunch. It helps me a lot if I have a concrete plan of what I want to write about. Otherwise, I can spend too much time thinking about it and losing time. So the best is to make this plan a day before or even create a concrete content plan for the whole week
And that's it, simple as that. It usually doesn't take more than 30 mins for the first part, depending on how long I do language learning and around an hour for the writing part. This routine helps me start the day in a good, healthy way. As a result, I'm more focused and determined, and knowing what to do every morning, helps me with that. Most of the time, I accomplish a lot already before noon, which gives me a big energy boost and a victorious feeling.
Many known techniques help you get out of procrastination and help you achieve your goals. I talk more about them in The best ways to stop procrastinating and motivate yourself daily to achieve goals. And one of them is Eat that Frog.
Eat that Frog is an excellent productivity method developed by Brian Tracy in his book Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. The idea behind this method is to deal with the most important task first.
Writing 500 words before midday is precisely this - you take the most challenging task of the day and complete it first thing in the morning or at least in the first couple of hours. In this way, you eat the biggest frog of the day and feel accomplished to continue your day with other tasks.
Besides all mentioned, I want to point out the part about not bringing the phone to bed. I admit that I'm pretty addicted to checking my phone, sometimes even subconsciously, on social media and other news apps.
Leaving my phone away, at least when going to bed, really helps me free my head from all this unnecessary waste. Usually, the phone was the last thing I saw before going to bed and the first thing I laid my eye on in the morning. I feel like this constant availability on the phone and the pressure that comes with it somehow vanished a bit. I even sleep better.
I believe it's essential to build any kind of morning or evening routine to stay productive at any time of day. Especially if you are trying to develop certain habits or change your life for the better, this can't happen overnight (unless you are trying to build a bad habit). I'm a tough cookie, with old and strong patterns and I'm afraid all the time that I'm just going to stop and ruin everything, but since it makes me feel so good about myself, I'll make sure to keep pushing forward.
Are you trying to build new daily (good) habits? How is it working for you? We'll be happy to hear your stories in the comment!