One of the things clients ask me about often is how I schedule my week as a creative business owner.
Managing our time, getting things done, and finding a good “balance” is something I think so many of us struggle with. Some of us fall into the camp of being constantly go-go-go and never taking a break, and others into the camp of being too easily distracted and struggling to stay focused with the lack of structure working for ourselves can bring. Here’s what I’ve learned:
My business needs structure and boundaries.
My creativity needs freedom and space.
My wellbeing needs margin and flexibility.
For a long time, these all felt like too many contradictions - I struggled to see how I could make space for everything in my weekly routine. After hitting burnout and feeling unfulfilled in my creative life last year, this year I decided to focus on shifting my routine so that it could make space for everything my business, my creativity, and my wellbeing needs along the way. Here’s how that practically looks for me now:
Monday: Content Creation
On Monday’s I focus on creating content for the following week ahead - sometimes I’m extra organised and already scheduled a week or so in advance so I can either just work on whatever week I need to create content for next or take the day off instead. Monday's to-do list usually looks like blog posts, Weekly Letters, and episodes for the podcast when Make It Happen is in season. I usually write best in the mornings so sometimes I get up at 6am and can finish my workday by midday, other times I may have a slow and steady morning before working from 11am until 4pm before I switch off for the day. I like to keep Monday’s as flexible as possible depending on how best I feel like working that day, but I very rarely work past 4pm and tend to only work 4-5 hours this day as I can usually get all of my work done within that time.
Tuesday: Bigger Projects
Up until the end of March this year, Tuesday’s were a client day where I’d be in coaching sessions for the majority of the day. I’ve slowly been transitioning my routine for the past few months to be able to cut Tuesday’s out of my coaching schedule as three days in a row of meetings was starting to take its toll and I was itching for more space to work on other projects within my business.
Tuesday’s are now a bigger project day - this means I now have space to work on any upcoming product releases, that book idea I’ve been playing around with in my mind for months now, and bigger pieces of free content for the blog too. These will probably look like Monday’s in terms of routine and hours - I know I can usually get more done between the hours of 6am and 10am than I do 2pm and 4pm so I like to make the most of an early start most days so I can then spend the afternoon and evening with Alex, family, or friends.
Wednesday’s are client days - that means between 9am and 6.30pm I’ll be in coaching sessions with my awesome clients. I tend to not get started for the day until 8am on client days, that way I can spend a few hours in the morning just relaxing, reading, and preparing for the day. My biggest rule on client days is to focus only on client work - I like to be fully present throughout sessions, but having 4-5 calls a day means that I need downtime in-between them to recharge before the next one. So I never schedule any other work on Wednesday’s so I can completely focus on the coaching work I do with my clients.
Thursday’s are exactly the same as Wednesday’s. Both days I tend to switch off by 7pm before having dinner with Alex and usually then just relaxing together and unwinding from the day. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s are always my busiest days of the week so come evening I like to just relax and embrace a little quiet after being in meetings all day. Although these are arguably my most draining days, they’re also the most fulfilling and are the whole reason I do what I do with my work. The biggest lesson I’ve learned as a coach is that I do my best work when I’m not coaching every single day of the week, and after lots of experimenting this past year I’ve finally found the best coaching routine for me.
When I used to be in meetings Tuesday-Thursday, come Friday my brain would be completely fried and even though I’d schedule lots of to-do’s for the day my list would very rarely all get ticked off as I’d just be in need of recovering from the week. Now that my routine is less draining, Friday’s have now been prioritised as a self-development day. That means my main focus on Friday’s is to develop my skills, awareness, and practice as a coach. I’ll either be researching new ideas and techniques to enable the work I do with my clients, reflecting on coaching sessions from the week, and prioritising my own growth as a coach. I also take an hour each Friday just to update my books, file any receipts for the week, manage my invoices, and tackle any other business admin tasks that need my attention.
Saturday: Clients or a Rest Day
Saturday’s are usually a client day - that means I’m in coaching calls with clients between 10.30am-6pm. I used to have meetings every Saturday but over the past month I've transitioned to every other Saturday - so twice a month I'm now able to take the entire weekend off. People always think I’m a little crazy for working Saturday’s, but as so many of my clients are in the US (so that’s anywhere between a 5 and 8 hour time difference) and some have day jobs and other commitments in the week that make Saturday’s our best day for scheduling a session, it’s a day that’s great for client work. And because I work for myself, sometimes I’m able just to take a day off in the week instead which definitely makes up for spending my Saturday’s working.
Sunday: Rest Day
Sunday’s are my non-negotiable rest day. Back when my routine was coaching 4 days a week (and last year it used to be 5 days), I would find myself needing to use Sunday’s to work on content or other projects. This left me feeling completely trapped in my business and like I had absolutely no time for a life outside of work, so now I protect my Sunday’s and use these days to spend quality time with Alex, catch up with family and friends, or just relax and do the things I love outside of work. I also try and stay out of my inbox and off the internet as much as possible this day too.
And here are some of the essential ways that I stay intentional and focused in my routine:
My work days need an anchor: This is a big lesson I’ve learned - my work days need an anchor if I want to stay productive and focused as a creative business owner with lots of freedom and autonomy over my time. Client days make this easy - my meetings are my anchor. But on non-client days it can be a little trickier - sometimes my anchor is when Alex leaves for and then finishes work at his day job, but as he freelances from home part time, sometimes we have to decide together on a less tangible anchor to direct our day. Sometime’s it’s an agreed upon dinner time, or a film we want to go and watch at the cinemas later on, or a dinner-date I have with a friend. Sometime’s it’s just agreeing: this is what time we will switch off and unwind. Having some structure to my day helps me to not look at my work day as a complete blank canvas - the only time I embrace the blank canvas is when I’m starting to feel a little exhausted from work and I need complete freedom to work without boundaries while I recharge.
I stay organised: I was never an organised person before I started my business, but thankfully I learned how to fast. I live by my Sunrise calendar, I use my Get To Work Book to intentionally map out my days, and a page-a-day diary to handwrite my to-do’s for each day too.
Scheduling my life takes as much priority as scheduling my business: Last year my business took priority over everything, and sooner or later I found myself miserable, exhausted, and resenting the business I had worked so hard to build. This year, everything has changed. My personal to-do’s take as much priority as my business to-do’s, scheduling in client calls takes as much priority as scheduling in time with Alex, family, friends, and myself, and I no longer define a successful week as one where I’m able to work every hour under the sun in my business, but instead a week where I feel fulfilled, healthy, and focused along the way.
I don’t fight against inspiration: Like I said at the beginning of this post, my business needs structure and boundaries but my creativity needs freedom and space. So if I get a bout of inspiration at 9pm at night when I’m supposed to have switched off from work, I roll with it. If on a Monday I finish all my essential to-do’s my midday but I have an idea I want to explore, I keep going and start bringing it to life. Inspiration isn’t a daily guarantee as a creative - sometimes creative business just looks like doing the work and getting things done, we can’t rely on inspiration to fuel us every single day. So when it shows up I try and always make space for it, as there’s a certain type of creative energy that comes from just going where our inspiration is taking us, and who knows when it will show itself again soon.
I don’t care how many hours I work, I care how much quality work I get done each week: I used to think I was working hard if I clocked in at least a 40 hour work week - and even though when I was working 50-60 hour work weeks I was exhausted and burnt out, I was sure that I was at least working hard by putting that many hours into my business. Now I’m crazy comfortable just working 25 hours a week if that’s all my business needs from me - I’m more concerned about the quality of my work, about how much meaningful impact I’m able to have, and how true I stay to my core values and vision than I am about how many hours I clock in each week. On average I work anywhere between 25-35 hours each week, and my business and my personal life is thankfully in a much healthier, focused, and joyful place than it was when I was putting in 50-60 hours a week.
I break my routine from time to time: At least once a quarter I like to take a week to completely break my routine. Back in January that meant taking a week off to go on a trip to Copenhagen, at the beginning of April that meant taking a week off from client work to just focus on other areas of my business and relax a little too, in May I’m taking a week off to go relax in the English countryside, and come July I’ll be taking some time off from client work to focus on other areas of my business and enjoy the summer too. I’ve found that breaking up my routine is one of the best ways to keep the joy in my creative life - making the most out of the freedom I have as my own boss is just the motivation I need when it’s time to get back to work. More than anything, this also helps to remind me that there is always more to life than work - and as a coach it does my practice and the work I do with my clients the world of good for me to take a step back and recharge too.
What I've learned more than anything thing is this: it's the little things we do every single day that shapes up the reality of our lives. By intentionally scheduling my week, I've actively been deciding how I want to spend my life and my time, and in return I've found myself feeling peaceful, focused, joyful, and energised in my life. My routine wasn't always like this - for the first year of running my own business I struggled with finding a routine that really worked for me, and I know without-a-doubt that I would have continued to struggle if I hadn't been willing to take a step back and start changing things from the inside out. I know it will be an ongoing process as a business owner to find the best routine for me as my work and my life evolves, but I hope this can be a jumping off point today for you to explore what the best routine can be for you in this current season of your life.
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