We had our first Coffee Morning call with startups on Friday at 8:30 am. The conversation steered towards wake-up times, what people’s routines were, what works for them, and what doesn’t. It was great. I loved hearing about other entrepreneurs’ routines, and workflows, and naturally, I started reflecting about my own routine and schedule.
This got me thinking, with all that’s going on these days, and many of us working from home, likely also with kids learning at home and online, and how our schedules/routines, or the lack thereof, are huge contributors to stress in our lives.
One of my new year’s goals is to work on giving some time and space for myself when it comes to work related scheduling. This may mean different things to each individual. To me, the main element of giving time and space is about creating that head space for yourself from others’ demands and priorities.
Really, it’s about reflecting on what *your* priorities are, and working on *your* own timeline and deadlines rather than those created by others. Because our organization was in survival mode a few years ago, I’ve created conditions for myself, where I needed to make sure everything is taken care of, constantly. That gave me very little time and room to breathe.
Once your organization matures, and when you’re not constantly working hard for your and your business’ survival, it really gives you the space to take a step back and identify where you want to spend your time the most. Who you want to have more conversations with, and what you want to pass up on.
Now, I recognize this is a privilege of course. This privilege that I have has been afforded to me by sacrificing sleepless nights, missing credit card payments, missing utilities payments, and yes, even days wondering how we’re going to eat next week (more on that in the future…maybe…). The point is, you just never know what people have gone through to get to where they are, and more importantly, you can’t really compare your work to someone else’s. We’re all different. Our journeys are different, and the paths we take to entrepreneurship are different.
As your business grows, you have an opportunity to take some time and really spend on relationships, great conversations on partnerships you’d like to grow, focus on what’s working, and what you’d like to change, and make it better and better.
“One of the most valuable things you can give to yourself is time” says Oprah in the beginning of each episode of her SuperSoul podcast. Taking time is not only beneficial for ourselves and our souls, from an organizational perspective, taking time and not rushing actions, decisions, and communication can help your business, and yes, yourself even, to grow in strength, capacity and endurance.
I set my alarm everyday for 5:30 am, wake up, get ready for the day, and listen to the morning news while I make my coffee. I usually have a list I create on Sunday evenings of things I want to tackle for the week. I then get to work with the list open right beside me.
Morning work could be a combination of emails, proposals, operational tasks and to-do’s, checking Asana and the team’s status and updates for the day/week. I check linkedin and twitter for 5 minutes each, and if I share anything (mostly twitter in the mornings), they’re often inspirational/reminder messages for myself to keep going that day. I make sure to do all of this on my laptop, as it’s work related. I’m avoiding going on my phone these days to reduce stress and anxiety (phones, and the action of scrolling can heighten our anxieties through the roof, and it’s an underrated reason for anxiety we often don’t discuss), and of course not to waste time. More on all of that in a future post.
The early morning wake ups are helping me to get some of these minor work anxieties out of the way, and it helps me to get caught up before the kids are awake. That way when they’re awake, I’m not in a stressed mode, and can focus on them getting started for the day.
Another thing I’m trying at the recommendation of my partner is to schedule only two work days for calls/video calls. That way my calls aren’t scattered throughout the week, which could cause a huge stress for myself and my family. At first, it was hard to make sure all calls to be slotted during those days, I started using Calendly. It’s working great now, and for those people who can’t fit a call with your schedule, they could look to future weeks during those same days. It helps to give everyone time and space.
With all that being said, none of this is easy. After the kids are settled in for their day, I still have to catch up with more work, etc. At the same time, the schedule, and knowing when things are happening (calls, programs, events) gives me that head space to focus on other things in my life, like the kids, my home and my family.
And while this new reality will be our norm for the next little while, it’s important that we establish routines, schedules and habits that work for us to create good work/life balance conditions for ourselves in the meantime.
For many entrepreneurs, the work/life balance these days is non existent, especially those who are also parents, or are the caregiver of someone else. Do what works best for you, and your lifestyle. It’s crucial that we set boundaries for ourselves on what we’re able to handle, and what we can say no to. Sometimes, a healthy no is good for everyone.
I’d love to invite you to the conversation. What routines are working for you? Are you a woman founder struggling with some of these areas? Do you have any questions that you’d like to inquire about and get support on how to navigate? Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, your query will remain anonymous, and I’ll try my best to support.