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Productivity

Episode 097: How I Structure My Days

February 15, 2022

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I'm  Amanda — simplicity-focused content marketing strategist.  I'm here to help you fit your marketing into your business.

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As a business owner, having a structured but flexible day is important for staying on track so I'm sharing my business owner daily routine.

Solo Business Owner Daily Routine

On last week’s episode, I shared about the way I structure my weeks. If you haven’t listened to that one, go back and listen to that first because this episode sort of plays off of it. You could listen to just this one, but I think you’ll feel a lot more clarity if you listen to that one and then this one.

That being said, today I’m diving into how I structure my days. A key value to me is finding balance in my life through making structure and flexibility work together, and this system has been carefully crafted to help me do that. I’m sharing what my days look like, and then I’m also sharing 4 tips to help you get started doing the same in your own life and business.

If you’re looking to stop feeling like you’re working up against deadlines and ignoring important parts of your life, this episode was made for you. Let’s dive in!


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*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate.

Welcome to the Chasing Simple Podcast. I’m your host, Amanda Warfield, and you’re listening to episode 97: how I structure my days. On last week’s episode, I shared about the way I structure my weeks. If you haven’t listened to that one, go back and listen to that first because this episode sort of plays off of it. You could listen to just this one, but I think that you’ll feel a lot more clarity if you listen to that one and then this one. So go back to episode 96 and then come back to episode 97, and listen. That being said today, I’m diving into how I structure my days. A key value of mine is finding balance in my life through making structure and flexibility work together. And this is some has been carefully crafted to help me do just that. I’m sharing what my days look like, and then I’m also sharing four tips to help you get started doing the same in your own life in business. If you’re looking to stop feeling like you’re working up against deadlines and ignoring important parts of your life, this episode was made for you. Let’s dive in.

 Whether I’m in a batch week or a non batch week, my days follow a general structure that I’ve created based on time box, which just means that instead of saying, okay, here is the individual task that I’m going to do at any given time. I chunk out my time and give it a theme. So it’s similar to structuring my week with theme days, I also structure my day with themed time blocks. And this just again, allows me to make sure I’m spreading my attention around to the various aspects of my life in this case, versus in last week’s episode, when I talk about how I structure my week and I’m talking about essentially just my business and how I make sure I spread my attention to all the areas of my business. Through a theme week through a time block and themed day, I’m able to make sure that I’m creating balance in my life. Essentially, I’m able to make sure that I’m not spending all day just on work. Then I’m also splitting up my time between house stuff, whether that’s cleaning or general tasks that need to get done around the house. I’m making sure I am getting my work done. I’m also making sure that I’m spending time taking care of me. Which. If you’ve listened to the very first episode from this year episode 91, you know, that is a big theme for me, this year is really taking care of myself. And I’m also making sure that I’m spending time with my husband and I’m giving time and attention to that. So all of these important aspects of my life, I’m able to make sure that I am giving them the time intention they need based on this time block schedule. And not that I say the word need, because I don’t need four hours in a day to take care of and manage the house. I really only generally need one hour, sometimes two, if there’s a lot on my plate. But it can be really easy for those areas of life to feel like you need a ton of time for it, and that’s how it gets really overwhelming. So I spend the majority of my day. I don’t know if I did the majority of my day, but more of my time working than I do on household, but I’m still creating balance. So balance doesn’t mean equal parts, just throwing that out there. my typical daily schedule during the workday, which again, if you listened to last week’s episode, you know, I generally work Monday through Thursday, Friday only if absolutely necessary.

 But typical day in a work week; I wake up at five. Am I one more preface? Sorry guys. And I’ll get into this a little bit later, but I work best at 5:00 AM. Throwing that out there. I am not saying that you need to get up and work at 5:00 AM. And I’m not working at 5:00 AM, but I’m not saying you need to get up at 5:00 AM to have a great day.

I know there are a lot of productivity gurus out there that tell you to eat the frog and get up early and. I don’t believe that’s true and I’ll get to that. And why believe at a later, but just throwing that out there as we start this, because I don’t want anyone cutting this episode off because they’re frustrated that I’m saying that I start my day at 5:00 AM. That works for me. That may not be what’s best for you. Anyways so 5:00 AM typically to about 6:30. I am doing my morning routine. This is my time I get my coffee, as I’m recording this because I’m recording in December. I turned the Christmas tree on. I grabbed my Bible and my Bible study tools. I make sure I have my Kindle and I do my morning routine.

I could talk about my morning routine some other time, if you’re interested in, go through what that looks like for me and how I have created that as well. If anyone wants to hear about that, let me know. But five to 6:30, I’m doing my morning routine. 6:30 to seven is typically when I’m getting ready for the day. Some days I take all 30 minutes. Some days I take five, just kind of depends on what’s going on, but that’s the time that I have allotted for that. If I’ve finished getting ready early, if it’s one of those days where I’m just putting my hair in a bun and putting on yoga pants and a t-shirt and not putting any makeup on which happens a decent amount, because it’s comfortable, especially in the winter, I’ll tend to get a jumpstart on my next section, which is my household management time block. So typically from seven to eight, I am doing my household management. I again have set this up this way because I use so much mental energy working during the day that if I wait to try and do my household, time block after I’m done working for the day, I will not do it. I learned that the hard way it is best. If I get up and do my household managment, first things first. Sometimes this means cleaning. Sometimes this means paying bills. Some it depends every single day is different, but that’s when I set aside my one hour a day for household management. 

After that I typically work from 8:00 AM to 11 in the morning. Sometimes I get hungry early and I will eat lunch earlier than that. And that’s okay too, in case you’re not noticing this theme, I have a structure for each day, but I am very, very flexible with the structure. I’ve mentioned this in last week’s episode, too, but structure plus flexibility is so key for having a structure that is actually designed and works well for you. 

 I have a structure. It changes from day to day also, but typically eight to 11. My first work block. This is normally when I’m working in my first business, my Amanda Warfield Content Marketing Strategy. That is this Chasing Simple. All of that is in the morning, typically. Then I normally take a lunch break. 11 to, it depends on the day. If I have a meeting, I generally try not to schedule meetings until 1230 or later, because frankly, I am at a place in life where currently my B12 levels are, I have a severe deficiency and we’re working on that with the doctors and all that fun stuff, but I need a nap pretty much every single day. Because of that deficiency. I try to not do a ton of stuff in the afternoon. Generally one o’clock is the earliest. I will schedule anything, but if I have to do earlier, I do. And it just varies again, day by day, some days I’m only taking a lunch break from 11 to 12. If I have a ton of stuff going on and I’m highly motivated, I would say that’s about once a month. And then my energy aligns that way. There’s typically like one week out of the month where I get a couple of good days like that. Most days I am taking an hour and a half to two hours for my lunch break, because I need to eat. I try to go for a walk if the weather’s nice and nap, I usually am spending a decent amount of that time napping at this point. So then from either 12:30 or one, whenever it is that I am back on my feet. 

One o’clock to four o’clock. I tend to devote to my other business, my Disney travel agency. Now this is sometimes gets overshadowed by meetings or things like that. I often will have, like on Mondays, I will typically have client meetings in that Monday afternoon. So I don’t often get to the Disney stuff that day and Tuesday afternoon, two Tuesdays a month, I’ll say not every other necessarily, but two Tuesdays a month at one o’clock I have club content, batching calls. So again, I’m kind of going on a bunch of different tangents, but I’m just trying to show you how important that flexibility side of things is.

 The Disney business, it doesn’t need as much attention as this business does. It doesn’t have as much going on. It’s much simple and much simplified. So I try to fit it in an afternoon. Some days it happens some days it doesn’t. But typically one to four, four o’clock I have an alarm that is my time to wrap things up alarm and I will spend the next 25 minutes or so making sure that I’ve answered any DMs that actually need to be answered, any emails, just doing general wrap-up things, finishing up whatever task it is that I’m working on. And so on and so forth. 

4: 30 on is very, very, very, very flexible. There’s not a lot of structure because again, with my B12 deficiency, I’m at a place where I just staying awake until bedtime is kind of the name of the game at that point. generally on a good day, the way I hope things to flow is that Russell and I tend to work out 4:30 to 5:30 sometimes it’ll go a little longer than that if he’s really pushing me, but I get cranky out there, so not always. Then we go in, we eat dinner, make dinner, whatever. If we’re making dinner, obviously that takes longer. Sometimes we’re just eating leftovers, which means we just get to heat things up and then we spend the next hour or so just hanging out either together or by ourselves doing a variety of things. And then about eight o’clock. We start getting ready for bed and get in bed by like 8:30. That is what a typical day looks like. 

I’m going to run through that really quick without all of the, caveats, just, you can hear it again. But five to 6:30 morning routine, 6:30 to seven, get ready. Seven to eight household management. Eight to 11, content marketing strategy business. 11 to one lunch break, one to four Disney travel agency business, and then four to four 30 wrap up. And then after that, it’s just dinner, workout, some relaxing time and then bedtime evening routine. So that’s how I took my day.

 They you’ll notice that as I run through that, I’m not saying that I’m doing this thing and this thing, and this thing I’m saying, this is my time for my morning routine. This is my time for this work. This is my time for household management, because that’s how, even in my planner, where I write out what I’m doing each day, I’m writing out work chunks, time chunks, not tasks.

But then within each of those time blocks, I typically have one to three tasks inside of my planner for that day. So right now, I have my first work chunk, my tasks are record episodes, 96, 97 to 98, write and record intros, and then send to my editor. Those are my three tasks for my first work block.

I also have two different household management chunks today. Two different places in my planner where I’m writing household tasks, because one is cleaning, cleaning the tub, cleaning the shower and sending the Roomba around our living room. Those are three for that. And then I also have more of management task setting, where I’ve got transferring photos, dealing with the pile up inside of my inbox tray. Which is really just where we put all of the mail and things like that. And then wrapping presents. Those are my three, for that type. And then I also have a section for personal vitamins, workout, skincare.

So that’s how I’ve jumped out my time today. Some days I have two different work blocks, some days I just have one, one household thing it’s different every day, but each day I make a spot for three tasks for each time block for my day. One to three tasks in my planner. So when it comes to my household management time, this morning, first thing I cleaned the shower, I cleaned the bathtub. I didn’t send the room around the living room this morning because I knew I was recording and I’ll do it later. But those are the things that I handled inside of that household management.

This morning, I immediately went to that. I said, this is my small to-do list for this section of my day. I’m going to do it.

 When it comes to that time, I start with the highest priority. And then I work until that time block is up. So I started with the tub and the shower. I worked until that time block is up, that didn’t take the whole hour. I think I wrapped presence during that time too, because I was able to move into the next section. But I start with the highest thing, and then I work until that time block is up. Whether or not I finished those three tasks or however many tasks I have written down on that to-do list. And that right there is the key, because if you say I’m going to do a household management from seven to eight, and then you work until that specific to do list is done. That is how you lose track of the day. That is how you end up neglecting aspects of your life.

 At eight o’clock, it’s a hard stop and I’m getting into work. No matter how much of that to do list, I have finished. So, no, I don’t always finish those tasks, but what happens because I’m consistently working in this pattern. It’s not the end of the world. If I missed the shower today, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world because I’ll clean the shower next week. And it doesn’t make that big of a deal if the shower doesn’t get cleaned. Because I’m working ahead like this always on my work stuff. If I happened this week is not a good week because it’s batch week. But if I had. Today’s a Tuesday. So if I was working on a project and I had three tasks for that project right now, if I didn’t get to the third task or even to the second one, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world because I know next Tuesday, I’m able to start from there because I’m constantly working ahead in that way.

It’s not a all or nothing, race to the finish. Have to get this done today. It’s, I’m going to work on this until my time’s up, and then I’m going to move on to the next thing. And I know that I’ve put time, attention, and energy into this project or whatever it is. So they just get moved to the next appropriate time block, which again, may not be for another week. It may be depending on what it is and what kind of time block you’re in.

So tips for creating your own time blocks. The very first thing I want to go back to, what I was talking about earlier is working with your energy levels. We all have different peak times where we work best. I know that for me, my peak time is eight to 11. I get the most done the most important stuff. I am way more motivated from an eight to 11. Because of that, I know that if I need to fit in my morning routine and all of my other stuff, I’ve worked backwards and know that I need to get, get up at five o’clock so that I can do my morning routine. I know how long that takes. I know how long the household management takes so on and so forth. This is a schedule that works best for me and my energy levels.

You may be a night owl, and if you work for yourself and you’re able to set your own hours, well, Maybe that’s when you need to be working. I can’t make that decision for you. You need to really pay attention to your own energy levels. When you feel the most motivated, things like that, and set up your own schedule accordingly, please do not just say, oh, Amanda gets up at five and she gets all this stuff done, so I need to have five. That’s not how this works. If you wake up at five and then you’re miserable for the rest of the day, it’s, not helpful. So work with your own energy levels. 

 The second tip I have for you is to break the various aspects of your life down into a few categories. So like I mentioned earlier, I’ve got the two different businesses, me-time, time with my husband and household management. Those are kind of my main five things that I am trying to consistently put time and attention into. So that’s how I’ve broken my life down into categories. Again, yours may look totally different, but you’re going to want to determine what those categories are for yourself 

The third tip I have for you is to use a timer. I have timers going off all day long. So when I get up in the morning, obviously my alarm goes off at five. I then will set an alarm for 7 55, because that is when I need to start switching from household management. Because again, seven to eight, eight to 11, those are that’s how that works from household management to work. So 7 55 and alarm will go off that. Every 30 minutes. So 8:25, 8:55, 9:25, 9:55, 10:25, 10:55, every 30 minutes, an alarm will go off that will remind me to take a break, take a walk for just quick five laps around the house, come back to whatever I’m doing. It’s also how I know it’s time to transition.

So I don’t go, oh my gosh. I was supposed to stop working at 11 and that’s 12. That would never happen because I’d be hungry. But especially at the end of the workday, that four o’clock alarm is always a. time to wrap up. I see that it’s four o’clock. My alarm has pulled me out of work mode and now I see it’s for time for me to start wrapping things up. And that is my cue to move on to the next thing. So use timers utilize them, they’re very, very helpful for one, those tiny breaks all day long are really good for your brain to help you focus because we can actually only focus for about 20 minutes at a time, on average as adult humans and the brakes force you to get away. Because a lot of times we think we’re focusing for longer than that. We’re actually not, we’re getting distracted and all of this and that, but. You could pay attention to that in your own life and look up the research if you’d like, but it helps us take those forced breaks so that we can stay as focused and productive as possible. But it also is that, oh, it’s this time I need to be switching to this thing now. 

And then the fourth step or the fourth tip I have for you is to be patient as you work your way into this, moving from a day to day, cranking things out at the last minute approach. And by that, I mean, you have this long to-do list and you’re just working down it as quickly as you can. And a lot of times that means that you’re running up against the deadlines. Moving from that sort of approach to planning and scheduling your day to a much more structured and working in advance approach is not easy. It’s just not, it’s worth it, but it is going to take you some time to adjust. So be patient with yourself as you are moving into that, because right now, if you set up your day and your, your week, exactly, like I do, most likely what’s going to happen is you’re going to get to your project day or let’s say your administration day, and you’re going to be like, there are all of these admin things on my to-do list today, but I have a bunch of deadlines right now that I need to work on these other things for, I can’t possibly set these deadlines aside for my admin day, give yourself some slack as you’re transitioning.

 Your transition, don’t allow that to be your every single week thing, but give yourself the time and space to. transition to this new way of doing things. 

So those four tips, again, one work with your energy levels. Two, break the various aspects of your life down into a few different categories to help you know, how to chunk out your time and time, block it. Three, use a timer. Four, be patient as you work your way to this new way of doing things. And this week’s action step is to start paying attention to your energy levels. And when you’re most productive and motivated. Then put your highest priority into that time slot. I need, again, I spend most of my, or the largest part of my day working.

I won’t say most of my day, but the largest part of my day working. I mean, I guess it is most dependent on the day, but that is the highest priority for my brain power. That’s what needs to go into that slot. So that is how I’ve set it up. But your highest priority may be different. It may be that spending time with your kids is your highest priority in your work stuff. It doesn’t matter as much, and that’s perfectly fine. Whatever your highest priority is, put it in the time slot where you feel best. 

And this week’s book recommendation is A World Without Email, by Cal Newport. And typically when I am giving you all book recommendations, I only recommend the books that I have rated four or five stars. There are a lot of books that I read that I don’t tell you all about because they’re not worth you reading. I don’t, I truly don’t recommend them. This one, I only rated as three-star. And I think that there is a lot that could be done to improve it as a book. But I also think that the concepts are interesting and thought provoking enough that I feel like it’s worth giving a spot to, for my weekly recommendation. So A World Without Email, by Cal Newport, he kind of explains, he goes into the history of email, how it came to be what we did before.

And then he also talks about how email has. It changed the trajectory of the way we work and different things like that. He’s got some interesting suggestions for other ways. We can get out of email. And I know that a lot of people struggle with email, and their inbox is backing up. it’s not something that I personally struggle with. I don’t know if I have a good system or if I just don’t get a ton of emails. I don’t know what the difference is. But I wanted to read it to kind of just see it. It was interesting enough to me to pick up, even though that’s not something that I struggle with and I only rated as three stars, but I do think it’s worth reading whether or not you struggled with email. If you were in this online grade of industry, I think this is a book worth reading. So that’s this week’s book recommendation A World Without Email, by Cal Newport. And until next time, my friend, I hope that you go out and uncomplicate your life in biz.


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