How to Create Structure and Accountability in Your Day as a Self Employed Person

Self-Employed Struggles: How to Create Structure in your Day

Being your own boss is great, right? You have control over your day, there is no one to answer to, and all of the decisions are yours to make. Your life should be devoid of stress, but I would argue that this freedom can add more stress to your life.

Being your own boss means that you are fully responsible for the income that you bring in. So every decision you make, directly or indirectly affects your income. With no one to answer to, there is no one to hold you accountable except yourself. It’s easy to give yourself slack, make excuses, and avoid deadlines, until you realize that you haven’t made any progress.

How can we fix this?

Solution: Create Structure in Your Day.

Structure doesn’t work for everyone. Some people find it confining and limiting, while others thrive in it. I am one of the thrivers.

When I was a kid, I loved school. I knew what was expected of me, so I would show up and do the work. When I had a job in the workforce, I treated it like school. I had tasks to complete, so I worked until my break or the end of my shift because I was getting paid and pleasing someone else.

Now that I am self-employed, I lack structure, I don’t know what is expected of me, and I have no one to please but myself. So it’s easy for me to get lazy, and not to show up for myself.

What would you do differently if you had a job outside of your home? How would you feel?

Take a moment to answer this question honestly. If you get stuck, think back to your time working a traditional job in the work force. How did you spend your time before, during, and after work?

My Answer:

  • I eat breakfast, prepare a lunch, make myself presentable (shower, brush teeth, get dressed), and I enjoy the rest of my morning by going for a walk, listening to music, or watching TV.
  • At work, I concentrate on my tasks until it is time for my lunch break. Every hour or so, I try to get up and stretch, before getting back to work. If I don’t have any deadlines to meet or projects to work on, I find something work related to do (things I have been putting off, organizing files, etc.). At the end of the day, I clean up my work space before heading home.
  • Once I get home, I am off the clock, so I don’t think about work. I make dinner, spend time with husband, go for a walk or a bike ride, read or watch TV, crochet, and enjoy my evening because it’s “my time”. My time is guilt free because I know that I finished a long day’s work.
Self Employed Creating Structure to Work Effectively

Analyzing your Answer:

Read your answer and compare it to what you do before, during, and after a typical self-employed work day. Is there a difference?

After answering this question, I realized that I had no boundaries between my work and personal life. I started work as soon as I woke up, ate breakfast and showered at random points in the morning, watched TV for longer than I should, pushed things off by thinking that I would get it done later in the evening, and when I had downtime, I would do something non-work related.

Identify the most important things that you want to change between your answer and your current work day.

For me, I want to change how often I move my body, what I do with my downtime at work, and establish boundaries between my personal and work life.

Let’s develop a routine and create structure for our day, so that we can make these changes and hopefully follow through with them.

Crochet as a Business

Create Structure in Our Day with Task Lists, Alarms, and Website Blockers:

Plan your day with important tasks that need to be done:

Think about your business and values to determine what needs to be done each day. For planning and making lists, I use a free website called Notion.

  • Customer Service: Respond to customers on social media and email.
  • Film a video
  • Edit a pattern

Make a list of tasks to complete during your “downtime”:

If you finish the important tasks for the day and there is still time to spare, reference your downtime task list to see what needs to be done. Downtime tasks are things that make your life easier, but get thrown on the back burner because they aren’t high priority.

  • Organizing files
  • Transferring photos/videos from your phone to the computer
  • Making Pinterest Pins

Decide which days you want to work, and which days you want to take off:

  • Monday – Friday are work days
  • Saturday – Sunday are my days off

Choose your working hours:

  • Work: 8am – 12pm, 1pm – 4pm
  • Lunch Break: 12pm – 1pm
  • Stretch Breaks: Every hour (9am, 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm)

Setting Alarms:

Set alarms for the crucial points of your day. If you need to create structure in your day, these alarms will help. Keep working until you hear the alarm. When the alarm sounds, follow through with your plan (stretch your body, or eat lunch). Don’t question it or think about it, just do it.

  • Alarm #1: 8:00am – Time for Work!
  • Alarm #2: 9:00am – Move Your Body!
  • Alarm #3: 10:00am – Move Your Body!
  • Alarm #4: 11:00am – Move Your Body!
  • Alarm #5: 12:00pm – Lunch Break!
  • Alarm #6: 1:00pm – Back to Work!
  • Alarm #7: 2:00pm – Move Your Body!
  • Alarm #8: 3:00pm – Move Your Body!
  • Alarm #9: 4:00pm – Work is Done!
Phone Alarms for Creating Structure and Breaks for Work

Moving Your Body Alarms:

Stretching and moving throughout the day is important, but we are less likely to do it when it requires extra work. Make the most of your body movement sessions by preparing your area.

For example, during my sessions I play 1 song and stretch or dance until the song is over. So to prepare for my sessions, I lay out my yoga mat the night before and hook up my speakers to my iPod.

Lunch Break:

Enjoy your lunch break. Eat, stretch, walk around, or do whatever makes you happy for the entire break. Try not to think about work and just concentrate on yourself because this is your “guilt-free me time”.

Having a Website Blocker:

I don’t know about you, but whenever I feel stuck, stressed, or bored, I go on social media. HOURS pass. It’s a terrible habit that is hard to break when we have easy access to these sites and apps.

Website blockers block these sites from our computers and phones, just like a traditional workplace does. I use an app called Focal Filter that is free and compatible with a Windows PC. It doesn’t look pretty, but it does the job. Type in the websites that you want to block, and set the timer for how long you want to block them. If you need to undo a timer block, you can restart your computer.

We are all different, so what works for one person might not work for others. But I hope these strategies inspire you to create structure in your day by making small changes that work for you. Please let me know in the comments one thing that you would like to try adding to your daily routine.

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I hope you have a wonderful day and get some time to be creative!

Love, Dayna

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