Being your own boss and making your own rules is the dream of the entrepreneur, but sometimes that freedom can be a little overwhelming. Having the freedom to create your own day will test your skills of self-discipline in ways that having a day-job—and therefore a boss to answer to—never will, but it does give you the ability to live a life you choose.Having the freedom to create your own day will test your skills of self-discipline. Click To Tweet
For me, structuring my day almost as if I have a “day-job”—but by my own rules—helps me get into the flow of work daily. This daily structure ensures that I’m working towards the work and life that I want every damn day.
To some this seems counter-intuitive; the point of this freedom is to spend all day sitting on the couch watching Netflix, right?
Wrong! It’s about building a routine that will help you be productive, but it’s based on your rules. You only work between 9 and 5 if that’s what’s best for you. Maybe you work best at night, or need to take long breakfasts, but shorter lunches. Maybe you have a yoga class you want to hit every Thursday at 10am.
No matter what you need to fit into your life to help you meet all of your responsibilities, both to others and to yourself, you have the freedom to build a day or a week—nay, a life!—based on those things that are most important to you.
And if a rare day of Netflix happens, it’s only answering to yourself and your customers that’s necessary, not an angry boss.
(We do occasional “mandatory lazy days” to help us recoup after particularly full parts of our life. We schedule them in and rest really hard. They’re some of the hardest days to finish in a fully lazy state, but so important to self-care and to keep the drive going.)
To give you an idea of what a day of creative entrepreneur freedom looks like, I wanted to walk you through a day in the life of me, Emily Thompson—web designer and podcaster, creative entrepreneur with an online business. I’m my own boss, and I do what I want. Here you go:
What My Day Looks Like
6:00AM – I wake up—with no alarm clock. My circadian rhythm is pretty on-point, so this happens almost on-the-dot on the daily. I usually just lay there, listening to the house and think about my day for a few minutes.
6:15AM – I grab my phone and go through the usual things. First I check my email—not to read or filter, but to get my NYTimes.com daily news recap. I read through that, followed by a quick scroll through Instagram, check news on Twitter, and play a round of Two Dots—which is totally my guilty pleasure.
I know that most people get all crazy about doing this in bed first thing in the morning, but for me it’s the equivalent of picking up a newspaper. I don’t read client emails or dive into project management. And this is just about the only significant time I spend on my phone all day long, until before I go to bed at night. So I do it guilt-free.
6:45AM – I put my phone down and rest my eyes some more, just enjoying some quiet before I start rustling about.
7:00AM – I sit up, turn on my light, grab my bullet journal, and plan out my day. I check my calendar for appointments and meetings, and write down my to-do list. I also check in on my monthly tracker (did I get my fitness in yesterday, or drink of all my water?) and do my daily gratitude—a list of three things I’m grateful for.
7:30AM – I get up and get in the shower.
8:00AM – #cutekid leaves her room and comes for a visit. We all snuggle in bed for a few minutes, talking about our plans for the day, and sticking our fingers in armpits.
8:30AM – We head to the kitchen for breakfast. I cook breakfast every day, and we sit down together to eat.
9:00AM – David and I take a cup of tea to the couch or front porch, depending on the weather, and sit while we sip. Kid has usually begun some school work by this time, so it’s out time to sit together. Sometimes we talk about plans, and sometimes we just sit quietly, but this time together is one of our favorite parts of our day.
9:30AM – I head into the studio and get to work. I begin by filtering my email, checking in on Slack, and checking my Asana. Then I start picking things from my list to start marking off, usually meetings or Indie Shopography tasks are where I begin.
1:00PM – I stop for a lunch break. I head into the kitchen and usually warm up some leftovers, and am joined by David and #cutekid for lunch. We chat about what we’ve done so far, and how we plan to wrap up the day.
2:00PM – I head back into the studio for more computer time. This is usually time that I can spend focusing on working on Being Boss, and finally get to answer any email that I need to tackle.
5:00PM – I shut it down. I say bye to the team, turn off my salt lamp, and put my computer to sleep. Once I walk away from the computer, I’m done—for the most part.
5:15PM – I begin cooking dinner. Sometimes I get help from the family, and sometimes it’s on my own. Either way, we wrap it up with dinner together and some chatter about how our day went, and what’s coming up in the next day or so.
7:00PM – We sit down with #cutekid for an episode of Flash, or maybe pile up in bed to do some reading.
8:00PM – #cutekid scoots off to bed, and David and I either get together for some TV time (Shark Tank and VEEP are some of our faves) or we separate for a little me-time. I’ll use this time journaling, scrolling through Pinterest, or reading a book.
9:30-10:00PM – I head to bed for plenty of beauty rest. This boss is going to age beautifully.
The Fluid Dream Day
Now, the best part of my daily flow is that I can change it up at any point. And, really, no two days are ever exactly the same. The life of this creative entrepreneur is nothing like those flicks about folks who see the same people and do the same things as they travel to-and-from work to do a job that looks the same every day.
Sometimes my morning block of work time will actually be a trip to the aquarium. Sometimes my evening alone-time may be when I get the chance to write a blog post, or I might write a newsletter in bed on the laptop during my morning before the kid is out of bed. Sometimes I bust out into some yoga while I’m cooking dinner.
The point is that this structure more-or-less stays the same, but is fluid based on what I need on a daily basis. I know when I’m most productive (morning and mid-afternoon), and I know when I’m available to spend time with myself to recharge (early in the morning or late in the evening, while the kid’s in bed).
I have structured the day based on my needs and the needs of my family, not the expectations of anyone else. My priorities are my priorities, and I create my days based on those things. I’m working for me and what’s important to me, every day.
Maybe you need even more structure, or maybe you need less. The point is that you build your day based on what’s important to you, and how you work best. Where those two things intersect is where you totally find your jive.Build your day based on what's important to you, and how you work best. Click To Tweet
My Dream: Every Day is a Busy Saturday
For me, my goal has always been to make my life feel like a string of busy Saturdays. And—with the exception of occasional back-to-back meeting days, which I find particularly grueling—I’m totally living it. I’m not forced awake by an alarm clock, and I get to call the shots as to what I’m doing from moment to moment. Every day feels like a busy Saturday. Sure, I’m not lazing about, but I’m taking action on the things that are important in my life—family, work, and my own life.
Now, this didn’t just happen. Building a dream day takes time to mold. It takes some looking inward to what you find most important to you, and cultivating the self-discipline to act on it. Also, it means accepting the ebbs and flows of good days and bad days, and not letting bad days throw you off course.
Create a structure that works for you. >Use the Ideak Day worksheet to help you begin. Then start taking baby steps, and you’ll find your days getting dreamier and dreamier as you go.