10 Small Ways To Add Structure To Your Workday
As creative people, we tend to face an ongoing struggle with structure.
Making our own hours and working in our pajamas is fun, but eventually we face the reality: Running a business sometimes requires buckling down and working with a little more structure. Crap. But it doesn't have to be bad or boring. Structure in a daily routine can help provide work/life balance, which is CRUCIAL to staying sane. And even a few simple changes, can provide the foundation for increased productivity and long-term personal and business prosperity. Here are 15 small changes we have made or recommend for adding a little structure into your workday.
1. Write yourself a job description
Seeing your description on paper helps you keep track of your priorities and daily tasks. Then, once you’ve written it, be sure you are only prioritizing jobs that fit your description.
2. Utilize your calendar
It’s helpful to put everything on your calendar. It works as a to-do list and a prioritized agenda. Schedule not just meetings, but specific paperwork, checking emails, and BREAKS! Be realistic with your schedule adding buffers, and allowing for some flexible work time that will vary by day.
3. And set business hours
Set the hours you want to start and end your workday, and try to keep all work-related tasks to those hours to maximize your work/life balance. If you fall behind in your daily tasks, you may end up having to work outside of your operating hours but use the experience as a learning tool when you schedule the next day and add more time for the tasks that ran long.
4. Take notes (especially outside of business hours)
Ideas can come in the middle of a scheduled task, late at night, or during time with family. Instead of letting thoughts distract from the task at hand, it's easy to take notes and work on your ideas during your flexible time within business hours. We keep all our notes in Google Drive for easy access on our phones and computers during the day.
5. Get up and get ready
Waking up and getting ready in the morning helps you adjust to the idea that you're "going to work" even if you work from home. So eat breakfast, and get dressed (even if it's in yoga pants) before sitting down and checking emails and starting your workday.
6. Have dedicated, tidy office space
Whether it’s a co-working office or a home office, have a dedicated space where you work, and try to keep your work in this area. It allows for a better work/life separation, even if it's only 5 feet of separation. It’s also important to have a space that is tidy and efficient so that you can enjoy the time you're working and be more productive.
7. AND close the door
If you work from home, you may have distractions like kids or pets. Closing your door protects your work space and keeps you on-task. You can also use headphones as a way to stay on task either at home or when you're surrounded by strangers at a coffee shop or coworking space.
8. Set realistic goals and expectations
Make sure you are being honest with what you can realistically get done within a day and with what times you are at your best. It can help to time each task on your schedule as you complete it so you can get to know your own pace (it may even surprise you which things take more and less time). Don’t expect to wake up at 6 am every day if you’re a night owl. We may start our workday at 10 am but work until 8 pm because we are more productive in the evening.
9. Learn to love the spreadsheet
We keep spreadsheets for everything from our budgets to our marketing leads. They're simple to make, sort, and share in Google Drive for that added feeling of organization.
10. Organize your email inbox
Create color codes for different types of messages like “waiting for response” or “follow up”. You can even make a game out of reaching inbox 0 every day. Create folders so you can save old emails. The inbox is often the virtual headquarters of your business. Keep it tidy!