"It's a beautiful day outside, of course, I can finish that task later!"
"Meet for lunch? No problem, I am in charge of my schedule (and can change that due date)!"
"I'm tired today. I'm going to take a break (and binge watch Netflix)."
It is very easy to get side-tracked as an entrepreneur. With free reign and reporting to nobody but yourself, it's easy to put off unpleasant tasks and projects to do something more pleasant.
It is also easy to get side-tracked on a project because you didn't scope everything out that you need to do, and quickly become overwhelmed and seeking a way to procrastinate dealing with it.
Or, realize that you forgot to include something on your blog, even though you post a new one every week.
So how do you keep up, executing your tasks correctly all while also taking advantages of the freedom and flexibility of being an entrepreneur?
Routines, workflows, and checklists are the key!
When you develop your workday routines, workflow and checklists, you are creating discipline in your work. Discipline is what allows people to me most effective, efficient and successful in what they do.
"What is needed, however, isn't just that people working together be nice to each other. It is discipline. Discipline is hard--harder than trustworthiness and skill and perhaps even than selflessness. We are by nature flawed and inconstant creatures. We can't even keep from snacking between meals. We are not built for discipline. We are built for novelty and excitement, not for careful attention to detail. Discipline is something we have to work at."
― Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
Create ease and flow into your day
Routines, workflows, and checklists make it much easier to focus on your work and get it done so that you can go out and enjoy your life; one of the many reasons that you may have become an entrepreneur in the first place!
By establishing routines, workflows, and checklists, you can condition your brain to focus and process what it needs to do without over-thinking or even working too hard.
Here are some simple definitions of routines, workflows, and checklists to get you started:
A sequence of actions regularly followed; part of a regular procedure (Google, 2017).
A workflow is a sequence or process in which a piece of work passes through; from initiation to completion (Google, 2017).
A checklist is a list of items required, things to do or points to make sure are covered (Google, 2017).
Below are some key considerations when designing your workday routines, workflows and checklists.
A routine is going to benefit you by providing you with a regular focus. You may use different routines for different things; morning, day, evening routines, weekly and monthly routines. Routines for creativity, blogging, and developing content. Whatever the routine is, and whatever your method is, make sure it is regularly scheduled and generally at the same time during each re-occurrence.
Why is this?
As you develop your routine, you condition your mind and body to complete that routine. The more consistent you are, the easier it becomes.
"If you want more energy, put yourself in situations where energy is required. Your body will naturally response and always produce the energy you need, but not if you're just sitting around complaining about not having enough energy."
Hal Elrod, The Miracle Morning
For example, each day my morning routine consists of brainstorming ten new ideas. The more consistent I am with this practice, the easier it is. My brain knows it has to do it. However, if I take a few days off, it is always a struggle to get it going again.
Viewing my “must-do” routines as non-negotiable to my success, allows me to remain committed to them. Keeping the same routine in place each day allows me to move through it much quicker than if I have to think about what I need to do each day.
The more you commit to your routine, the more your will be in the flow of it.
(Disclaimer: do not force a routine. If it is not working after a designated trial period, switch it up and try something else!)
A workflow benefits you because it allows you to have a process for completing certain tasks, in a specific order. For example, my 5 Steps to Project Management and Weekly Reviews are both examples of workflows. To complete the process, you work through sequence start to finish.
A workflow will take the guessing game out of what you have to do and when; ensuring you do not miss something, therefore, reducing errors.
For example, I have a blogging workflow. When I blog I outline it, draft it, edit it, select imagery, optimize it for SEO and then publish it. By having this workflow, I know what I need to do and in what order to complete a blog post as well as approximately how long it will take me to complete.
Because I have an established, documented routine, I can be sure I will never miss an important component.
For any conventional processes you do, I encourage you to create and document your workflow.
A checklist is similar in some ways to both routines and workflows, however, they benefit you because they help you make sure you get everything covered that you need to. A workflow may contain a checklist, or you develop a hybrid workflow-checklist (these are the steps you have to do, and check them off as you complete them).
A checklist may be beneficial where something can be completed out of order (versus a workflow which is a pre-defined order).
Create checklists where you need to be sure that you are completing certain tasks with routine projects.
“Good checklists, on the other hand are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything--a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps--the ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.”
Atul Gawande, The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right
Create your routines, workflows, and checklists!
What are the different routines, workflows, and checklists that you have in your day? Where are you lacking and can create more definition? Please share in the comments below!
Please note that I have not been given any free products, services or anything else by these companies in exchange for mentioning them on the site. I am a paying user of this product. This post does however contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, I will receive a commission.