I have routines and at other times those are gone. And it made me think about when I’m more in flow–do the routines help or do they hinder?
My routines are day-of-the-week and times-of-the-day based. When my children are in school, the structure of my day is dictated by their schedule because I like to take them to school, so ‘work’ only starts after that (although sometimes I do get a bit too ‘absorbed in my Thing’ to always pick them up–don’t worry, their Dad does so they don’t get forgotten!).
But when it’s the holidays I can organise my own time–or at least it’s more fluid. And I know I needed to invoke a few routines in order to get things done when there are no routines or schedules in place from ‘outside’. When I first started my business–working at home and before small people–I had a ‘Get dressed by 9’ rule so I wasn’t (well, mostly) still be in my PJs at lunchtime. It’s just too tempting to get stuck into emails and work if you don’t have a rule, I've found! Just because I wasn’t leaving the house that day didn’t mean I didn’t have to get dressed. I would also make sure I ate ‘on time’ too–not that I am ever one of those people who forgets to eat lunch (I love my food).
I have also introduced (and this might work for you or it might not) ‘Days of the week’ when I work on different things in my business–this really helps me and my team to know when I am available for different ‘things’ and also allows me to focus and not be (mostly) distracted by work that comes in on the fly. Knowing that I have a designated day or time to look at specific stuff means I don’t have to worry about it the rest of the week. Now, of course there are things that come up every day that may have to be dealt with right away, so in reality my ‘days of the week’ designations are for the mornings of each day, with the afternoons more free to create what I want and respond to what I need to on a non-routine basis.
The opposite of routines, of course, are to work in flow... this is when you do work when you feel most inspired to do it. And I’ll agree this can work really well if what you do is creative... that said, if you’re not getting done what you want to get done you will be better for scheduling your creativity. In fact, whatever your Thing is, the more you do it the better you’ll get at it, and sometimes this means getting started when you don’t feel ‘in flow’ yet. Steven Pressfield (I’m a huge fan) writes about this a lot–one of his books is called ‘Turning Pro’ and it’s very much about how (in his instance as a writer) he realised that the best way to get writing done was to do it everyday whether inspiration had struck or not. He argues that the amateur writes when inspired but the pro writes every day.
As a business owner, routines means work gets done. And if you feel that routines stifle your Thing, then create ones that give it the space it needs. I actually look forward to my writing days and my calls days as I know what ‘zone’ I need to be in that day and I get that way because it’s scheduled.
Routines can create flow if you let them–and the good thing about routines is you know everything gets done.
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