It is too easy when you work out of your home to work without taking a break, let the racing thoughts continue, and start up work again after dinner. We know “better,” but it is hard to manage at home because here, our work and personal lives occur in one location; we don’t have the commute to get us into the work mindset, or the personal mindset as we drive home.
A page-a-day readers by Melodie Beattie and Karen Casey. I’ve looked for new ones ( I “should” have a new one each year), but I like rereading these lessons of life. Good reminders, different perspectives, thoughtful writing and very grounding for me. On a rare chaotic day, when I miss the reading, I remember later on that I hadn’t read. So I sit and read right then as a way to “reset” my day.
Quick email check and responses to scheduling emails or quick answers. Others requiring more thought or lengthier responses I save for later in my morning.
Walking is part of my morning, just about 20 minutes, with more during the day, walking or biking in bits and pieces of time. Morning is walking and playing ball with my dog; we get as much exercise as the other!
Do one personal chore to keep up the house – laundry swap, sweep the floor, empty the dishwasher. It’s something which takes 5- 10 minutes at most.
After getting ready for the day (with the outfit I’d chosen the night before), I get my breakfast. I had years when I worked in corporate and also self employed when I knew I “should” eat breakfast, but I was never hungry that early in the morning. And to make breakfast felt overwhelming at that hour. I’ve simplified, have 2 choices of breakfast, and I make it early (or in the winter for oatmeal, it is either instant or made in the crockpot for several days’ worth). I eat it whenever I feel hungry, but by 10.
By then I’m ready to get to my desk and warm up to my day. I tidy up the desk if necessary.
Priorities, Time Available, Review the Day
Review my calendar for the number of appointments; pull out each person’s folder for later review. Calculate how much time I have for other work like marketing, QuickBooks, book marketing, social media, etc.
To visualize this, I use Trello as well as my Google calendar:
- To today’s column, I add client meeting hours total and “other work time” totals. If I’m low energy or particularly distractible, I will I write at the top of a Trello card who I meet with and when. That keeps everything together, front and center. I keep Trello open both on my Surface Pro and on my phone to keep the day visible.
- I move cards up and down the column to set priorities, to group similar tasks together and to move some tasks based on how much time is available. At the beginning of the week, I look at the whole week and see which days have the time available for marketing in particular, such as writing blogs or making videos, which need good chunks of time. So Friday afternoon might be “video time,” and labelled that way in my calendar and on the Trello board. Earlier in the week, you would see a card to “choose a few topics for videos on Friday.”
- Some cards have tasks already grouped. That might be Quick Books recordings for later. Or blog ideas.
- I use a card titled “Stop here for today,” where I believe I’ll need to stop. Above this card are things I definitely want focus on, whether it’s to get to a next step or finish a larger project.Below is a sample from the company’s website.
- Sometimes if I feel unfocused, I tighten up by adding the tasks to my calendar, so the whole road map for the day is on my calendar. It helps me stay on task, moving from one thing to the other easily, because I don’t have to think about what’s next (unless something new arises, and I reprioritize).
- I have a “This month’s accomplishments” column on my Trello, where I move each task I complete so I can see how much is done. Major accomplishments I add to a year long column so at each month, quarter or year’s end, I can see the bigger picture of goals I have met.
Breaks. Pressing Reset. Refreshing.
I take time in between client 1/2 hour or hour meetings so that I clear my mind and have time to review where we were last session and where we could head, what questions I might have. The client brings the topic, but I may have some thoughts (or homework reviews) to raise since a prior meeting.
About every 2 hours, a break: dog playing/walking with my dog; a walk around or outside; go upstairs and take a chatting break. Not long. A reset/refresh.
I keep a calendar entry for lunchtime so I won’t forget. I figure out lunch while making coffee in the morning, so that with the idea in mind, I am more sure I’ll eat. I have a history of skipping lunch, working through it.
If the day goes awry, I notice it is happening. Awareness is step one. I literally say “reset” to myself. How can I stop and start over the day again rather than letting it get worse.
End of Day.
I review my Trello Board, seeing what I got done, what I did not and why. (5-10 minutes.) I mentally close out my day by doing this. I tidy up my desk so I can hit the ground running the next morning, and head off to whatever I’m doing that day to decompress (kayak, nap, 1/2 hour Netflix, walk). If I can’t tidy up my desk, then I make sure I do it after dinner.
I hope you’ll find something in my routine that is either new or reminds you of something you have wanted to experiment with.
PS If you’d like to work on your day’s routines so that you feel more balanced or less rushed, an intro call is 20 minutes and no charge. You’ll walk away with at least one practical strategy.
Sue@CoachSueWest.com or call 603 765 9267