I talked about the benefit of having a defined routine in your day in my last article. Here, I want to show you HOW to give your life more structure, with five simple tips. They’ll make a huge difference.
How to Give Your Life More Structure.
You’re self-employed, maybe freelance, or your run your own business. You probably chose this path in life for the freedom, no? The belief that you’d be in charge of your own time and could do what you needed to do whenever you wanted to do it.
That was, without doubt, an absolutely awesome intention. There’s nothing better than knowing that you are your own boss. That you can go hillwalking whenever you want – or make time for a cup of coffee with a friend if they are in town.
Yet, this absolute freedom is not always all it is cracked up to be. As, often, it is something that can be a little difficult to manage, stressful, or overwhelming. (And often this is a little hard to admit.)
This is not something that should put you off. However, you do need to think about how to give your life more structure. And this will be helpful even if you aren’t struggling with the stress.
So, let’s take a look at five ways in which you can give your life more structure.
Plan Your Weeks Ahead.
I’ve discussed before the importance of planning your weeks before you start them. This is not only good for productivity, but it helps you feel much more in control of your time too.
When you are writing your timetable on a Sunday night, don’t just slot in tasks at random.
What you should rather do is begin with a template of your routine – and place the tasks you need to complete in relevant places. So, if, like for me, Monday is your admin day, put the emails, the spreadsheets etc right there. Similarly, if you have a load of meetings, put them all on the same day.
Batch Your Tasks.
What it means is that you group or ‘batch’ your tasks together with other similar tasks. You might put all your phone calls for the day into an hour’s slot – for example. Keeping you in the zone for the calls!
So, in your plan to give your life more structure, try giving each of your days/mornings/afternoons themes. You could do creative things on a Thursday, or collaborative tasks on a Friday afternoon for example.
This way, your life isn’t just a frantic flitting between different tasks.
Schedule Moments of Solitude in Your Day.
After each of your tasks or batches of tasks, pencil in some brief moments of solitude. This may well be more important than you realise.
After you’ve been working on a particular task – and particularly if you haven’t finished it completely – you’ll experience a phenomenon called ‘attention residue’. This is when your mind is still going around and around a problem in subsequent moments. And the trouble is that this will be distracting you from your next task.
Getting into the habit of having brief moments of solitude between tasks is essential for your productivity. Take a break from the desk, take a walk outside or grab a coffee for a few minutes. Because then you can clear your head and get into gear for the next thing you need to do.
Ensure You Schedule Protected Time.
Protected time is one of the productivity strategies I value the most. It means putting dedicated time in your schedule for when you are doing your most important work – the deep thinking and focused system two work.
This is the time in which you will work best – and in which you will have no distractions. When scheduling your time, block out strategic times in the day in which you are best prepared for intensive thinking.
Don’t Forget about the Importance of Breaks.
Sometimes, when you have a lot of things on your plate, you can go through a day without stopping to take a break. But let me say quite clearly: this is daft. Because the benefits of taking a break are huge.
Your brain works best when it has had a bit of downtime, a break from the daily grind. When it is fully rested and has the energy to think. So, don’t feel guilty about taking a lunch break, grabbing a walk in the afternoon or even an afternoon off once in a while.
We all know we have the best ideas when we have a break, weekend away or a holiday. Try incorporating mini-breaks into your routine, an afternoon off here and there or whole weekend day without checking your emails? You will be surprised at the results!
So try adding a bit of structure to your day. Start small and see what works for you!