Turns out, when I don’t have a schedule to follow, time leaks through my day like a siv.
. . . And I have a hunch I’m not the only one.
When I first began working on Ponder Trail, my mornings started at the early hour of 4:30am. I’d wake up and hit the ground running after my husband headed to work. Those morning hours were golden for being productive and making progress. And it was easy to spend 12 hours getting things done to get my little company up and running.
Since then, though, our schedule has changed quite a bit.
After shifting to a later, and somewhat unconventional, schedule, it took a while to figure out a routine that was optimal for running my business. It often felt like I couldn’t get anything done or stay focused.
But I took it as a creative challenge, and over the last few months, I’ve been extra determined to create a daily routine that optimizes productivity and is easy to follow.
I’m happy to report that experimentation and persistency were just the ticket: after much determination, time-tracking, and habit-building, I landed on a new daily routine and work schedule that exponents productivity! In fact, it’s been my most effective work schedule to date.
I’ve been fine-tuning it ever since, and today, I’m taking you behind the scenes to see what a typical day of working on Ponder Trail looks like.
Keep reading for a tour of my routine and how I schedule my time.
5:45am // Morning Routine + Golden Time
My workday begins as soon as I hop out of bed, make tea, and enjoy breakfast (sometimes at my desk). This time is golden for getting productive work done. So much so that I call this my Golden Time. Getting up extra early (even when it’s hard) is one of the best things I’ve done for Ponder Trail.
Most every day, I spend this time blog post writing. My goal for May is to publish a new post to the blog each week day. Sometimes blogging can seem a little daunting, so I find if I start writing before I can shy away from it, it helps me jump in and write productively. I aim to get in a solid hour and fifteen minutes of golden work time.
To prepare for the remainder of the day, I briefly review my Daily Focus Sheet and workflow for the day, which I fill out the night before. It’s always exciting to have a list of to-do’s and visualize how much farther along towards my goals I’ll be after getting it all done. This adds a bit of incentive to put my nose to the grindstone and work efficiently.
The last 5 minutes of this time are for social media. I post to various social media platforms several times throughout the day, so I knock out the first few tasks in the morning. Since I batch most of my social marketing in advance, posting is a breeze each day.
7:30am // Get Ready + Free Time
Here’s where the unconventional part comes in:
The majority of my “off” time is typically in the morning. It's the part of the day that often works best for my husband Tom and I to spend time together. His schedule changes up a lot, so sometimes this part gets shuffled around a bit. But for the most part, this is when we hang out, read the Bible together, or do something outside.
I always get dressed to prepare for a productive day, too; there's something about wearing a put-together outfit that helps me feel more prepared and able to get things done. Plus, when it comes time to film a video or meet with clients, I’m ready to go.
I also eat second breakfast (any other Hobbit entrepreneurs out there?) and spend time meal prepping and cooking during this part of the day. This allows us have food that’s ready to eat so I can focus on work. This is where I try to tidy up the house, knock out some chores, and water my plants, too. And I eat an early lunch before getting back to work. (I like to eat smaller meals every few hours, so you might notice below that I have a second, “late,” lunch, too.)
10:30am // Social Media
After lunch, I hop on various social platforms. I like to keep the bulk of social media tasks separate from other work because they tend to bleed into other things if I’m not careful.
I plan Instagram 30 days ahead of time and try to batch my tweets, so I just have to click “post” for them. So I normally use this time to pin blog graphics on Pinterest. I also check in on a few Facebook groups.
11:00am // Focus Time: Client Work or Content Creation
These next three hours of my work day are blocked off for the most important, larger tasks of my day. Depending on my agenda for the week, this is usually client work or more blog post writing.
If it's a week that falls on a client branding project, I use this time to complete the majority of design work for the day. Sometimes I’ll even skip the social media time slots and fit that into my flex work time at the end of my day so I can focus on client work.
2:00pm // Instagram
After my focused work time, I spend a little time on Instagram. I publish my post for the day and hang around a bit online to respond to comments and messages. Sometimes I post to Stories during this time, too.
2:15 // Afternoon Break
I take a longer break in the afternoon. I usually start off with a snack (which is actually more of a second lunch). Sometimes I'll go for a walk to exercise and get outside. I try to do something rejuvenating while I’m on break to help me maintain productivity for the rest of the day.
Technically, I don’t always break away from work during this time because I’m usually making or things for my handmade knitwear shop. But this looks like working on a new knit or crochet pattern, sewing project bags, or dying yarn; so it pretty much feels like a break.
4:00pm // Focused Work
During this second session of focused work, I get back in the zone to tackle the second half of important tasks, bigger projects, or content creation.
When I'm working on a client project, I first finish my design work for the day. Then, I send the current stage of the project to my client. Since I only work with one client at a time, I fit all of the design work into one week. It’s an exciting process for both me and the client because (1) I get to focus fully on designing and (2) they get to see a new stage of their design each day. It’s almost like watching their new brand and website come to life right before their eyes!
I love being able to focus all of my creativity into one thing at a time, so hunkering down and designing a full brand and website in one week is ideal. The unique time frame suits me well, allows me to best serve my clients, and has many overall benefits.
6:00pm // Flex Work + Tomorrow’s Focus Sheet
After I complete my priorities, I set aside time to work on more flexible tasks. This is where I complete smaller actions like responding to emails and blog comments, posting to social media, and any other to-do’s I have left. These things change from day to day, and it’s nice to have some flexibility time scheduled in to check them off.
I also fill out my Daily Focus Sheet and plan my workflow for the next day. This gets me excited about the tasks I’m working on tomorrow, which helps me hop out of bed. It also gives me a clear outline of what I need to get done. I would be lost without this grounding step.
7:00pm // Down Time + Evening Routine
At 7pm, I call it quits for the day. Tom and I have dinner and hang out in the evening before it’s time for bed around 10pm. If I hope to have an early start the next morning, getting to bed on time is essential. A productive day’s work truly begins the night before.
While I don’t always follow my schedule perfectly, it helps guide the way I spend my time and has been extremely beneficial for getting things done.
What helps you have a productive day? Do you utilize a daily routine or a schedule for working on your business? If so, have you found it helpful?
If you aren’t currently following one, do you plan to implement one in the coming days?
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