Starting Your Day on the Right Foot: Tips and Tricks for Freelancers

Written by Erin Ollila on October 31, 2017

When you’re a freelancer running your own business, it’s important to take control of your day before your day takes control of you. Time is fleeting, and when you’re running a one-person ship or a fully staffed business, you need as much of it as possible. So, how can you approach your morning so that you’re starting your day off on the right foot? Here are the seven life choices that healthy business owners incorporate into their morning routines.

1. Prepare the Night Before

To make tomorrow a success, spend some time tonight planning out your upcoming day. Don’t stress out about it. Simply take a few minutes to sit and calmly jot down some notes about your priorities. Or take it a step further and write yourself a positive affirmation to read as soon as you wake up the next morning. Always remember to be kind to yourself.

Whenever possible, organize your workspace the night before. Assemble all the tools you’ll need and get the administrative tasks out of the way so you’ll be able to get to work immediately the next morning. Think of this process as the freelance version of mise en place. Once you’re done, get some sleep.

2. Wake Up Early

Never in my life did I expect to advise someone else to wake up early, so I guess it’s safe to say that I’m officially old. All jokes aside, if you want to be a successful business owner, you’ll need to harness all possible opportunities. If you sleep the day away, you’re wasting your most valuable asset: time.

I don’t mean that you should skip out on sleep. In fact, I highly suggest going to sleep earlier. Sleep is important for your physical and mental health, and you need both of these things in check to get the job done. Quit skipping out on sleep. The National Institutes of Health reports that, “After several nights of losing sleep — even a loss of just 1-2 hours per night — your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t slept at all for a day or two.” Get to bed early and wake up early so that you’re well-rested and ready to work.

3. Adjust Your Mindset

You know those first few groggy moments after sleep, right before you swing your legs over the bed? Use these minutes to begin your day in a motivating mindset. Every business owner is different, so do what works best for you. Some people may choose to meditate. Others will repeat positive affirmations to themselves. If neither of those work for you, simply listen to uplifting music as it can help you feel positive about the day ahead, rather than waking up to immediate anxiety and stress.

4. Engage in Physical Activity

Did you know that working out may actually make you smarter? What business owner wouldn’t want to have a surge of creativity first thing in the morning? Jump out of bed, go for a run or start out with some simple stretching. I’m still working on making this a part of my morning routine, but it’s forthcoming. The first thing that I do when I get out of bed every morning is stretch. It helps me feel more awake and alert, so I can’t begin to imagine what a quick run would do for my mental, physical and emotional health.

5. Eat Breakfast

Want to be an efficient worker? Eat your breakfast. It’s that simple. Your body needs fuel to function. A car doesn’t run on an empty tank, so you can’t expect your body to wait until lunchtime to refuel. Don’t binge on sugar-coated, processed food either. Eat something that will truly help your body function optimally.

6. Make a To-Do List

After you take care of yourself by completing the above five steps, get organized. In the morning I like to write down all my thoughts on paper, or use some of my online tools (like Trello or TeuxDeux) to set up a list of activities I’d like to complete immediately, in the near future or in the distant future. The items on paper are my daily goals. The rest make their way to my digital lists, which I reference regularly to make sure I’m accomplishing what I need to each month, quarter or year for my business. Getting everything out of my head and onto a page frees up mental space for me to work on client projects and grow my company.

7. Take Baby Steps

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the huge amount of work that it takes to run a business. Here’s a secret: You don’t need to accomplish everything in one day. Putting one foot in front of the other is what will help you climb a mountain. If your to-do list feels too overwhelming, choose the smallest task and focus on that first. Then tackle another small task. Starting your day doesn’t have to be difficult. After accomplishing a few things right away, you’ll feel like you can take on the world — and maybe you will.

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