Today we’re diving into part 2 of this three-part mini-series to help you develop your super powers for self organisation for business owners working from home. I want to share some simple routines that will help you reduce day-to-day stress. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?!
Welcome back! In the previous article and podcast episode, part 1, we’ve looked at self-organisation for business owners working from home from the perspective of decluttering distractions to enhance your creativity, productivity and flow. We explored the major sources of distraction and how to eliminate them. how did you get on with what decluttering your distractions?
In this second part, I’m going to be taking you through a whole list of practical ways you can reduce stress working from home. Self-organisation for business owners working from home is essential. When you create routines and boundaries around your personal and work tasks, you can achieve a greater sense of control and life balance. Some of these may seem obvious, but are we actually sticking to them or enforcing them?
And then in part 3 coming up next, we’ll look more towards de-stressing your actual business.
All together you’ll be getting 21 Ways to Organise Your ‘Work from Home’ Business for More Fun, Flow and Freedom.
And a reminder that at the end, I’ll be sharing a useful checklist of all the ideas that you can use to hold yourself accountability to the rules and boundaries you put in place – it may take a bit of time to adjust, but it’s also a huge game-changer.
PREFER TO LISTEN?
So let’s get going …starting with a couple of questions:
Why am I spending so much time on self-organisation?
Well, because it’s important part of running and growing a sustainable business 🙂
If you keep putting important but non-urgent things on the back burner until a time you get some clear space in your day or week, then you definitely need to tune in to all three parts. Even if you don’t go for all 21 things on the checklist, at least you’ll understand which ones apply to you and what you need, and which you could make improvements in.
Why Does Disorder Makes Us So Stressed?!!
And or put another way, why does order reduce stress?
If we’re able bring some order to what makes us ineffective or anxious, we can start to feel more in control of all the things we juggle, which makes us more confident in our business decisions, and more energised in our day-to-day activities.
I find it really helps to know exactly what has to happen on any particular day. It makes us more excited to wake up and get to work when we’re clear on the plan. And we’re way less distracted when we’re immersed in what we’re doing, and in a state of flow.
We feel in control because we acknowledged the breakdowns we were having with our lack of routines. We will feel accomplished because simple changes were easy to make, and we will see immediate results. No more spinning our wheels…simple routines to the rescue.
I understand that you might feel a bit sceptical but rest assured, you’re probably overthinking how to organise your life. Does it sound too simple? I get it. I’m a bit of an overthinker quite often myself. But hear me out and I will promise that you’ll be ready to make some small changes. I guarantee you’ll be surprised by the results!
We have a lot to get through so grab whatever you use to write success notes and let’s get started…
Optimise Your Life
Have you ever felt like you’ve spread yourself too thin and nothing you do is up to your standards? People who take on the weight of the world – or their family and business – without any help or support often find themselves in this predicament.
Many people will say they can’t ever enjoy themselves “in the moment” because they’re always thinking two steps ahead of where they have to be next or what has to happen tomorrow. Self-organisation for business owners is all about creating balance and reducing personal stress.
Optimising your life is about finding the most efficient way to organise yourself so you can actually ENJOY life instead of feeling like you’re on the never-ending treadmill to nowhere. With systems, routines, and habits in place you can learn how to have fun again because you have faith in your plans.
The First Law of Ecology posits that everything in the world is interconnected through the ecosphere. If you add in some quantum physics beliefs that WE can source and create everything in our lives, then you can make the jump to believing that when one area of your life flows well, it impacts all the other areas of your life.
Also, if everything in life is connected, you’ll get much more done in your business (and have much more fun!) if you have a “plan” for it all.
A close friend of mine told me her business started ramping up with clients searching her out after she got serious about her health goals. She was making physical changes to her body and overall health and those actions gave an energy boost to her business. I know, it’s spooky weird but awesome at the same time!
I hear a lot of stories like that.
Close your eyes for just a minute and think about how your life would flow if you had systems in place along with some basic organisation strategies. No more flying around like a chicken with its head cut off! No more confusion over how to prioritise your client work.
Remember…we’re talking about organising all areas of your life. Don’t get overwhelmed at the idea – get excited! When you can create organisation and clarity every day, you’ll be poised to rock your business.
Now let’s go through some of the advantages of optimising your life so it all flows together…
You’ll get more done. You won’t be stressing out over when you’re going to get to dishes in the sink when you’re trying to get work done for the day because you have plans set for taking care of household chores as well as business responsibilities. You won’t be trying to do a juggling act and dropping balls.
Everything you need to get done will get done. You’ll have time set aside to care for your business, your health, your family and your home. You won’t have to worry that you’ll miss something – because you’ll have carved out time for it all. You’ll be organising it in a way that flows.
You’ll have more free time and mental space to be creative. Again, because you won’t need to think about one thing while you’re doing another which actually causes stress for many people. Multi-tasking is counter-productive. Schedule free time and “me time” in your calendar when you need space to do strategic thinking and creative work.
- Your mental health depends on it. Living life without routines, without any sort of structure for you and your family, is incredibly draining (mentally and physically) and it’s time-consuming.
Setting Routines to Get More Done with Less Brain Drain
Setting routines allows you to go through some motions with little thought…it’s simple and clear what comes next in the routine. It doesn’t take much brain power. Setting a schedule allows you to assign all the important tasks a dedicated time slot so you can be confident about finishing them all within the timeframe you’ve set.
If you’re not sure how long a task might take, estimate it, track actual time spent to complete it, and then readjust your estimates – you’ll get better and better at getting a good figure.
More importantly, you’ll ‘see’ where you waste time on non-priority tasks or spend too much time on something that should be fairly straight forward. When you have sight of this, you can create templates, work plans, checklists and other tools that save you next time next time you have something similar to do.
Let’s stop here for a moment so I can reassure you that organising your life into a plan, and setting out routines and schedules does NOT have to be overwhelming! Consider this a work in progress. You may feel excited about this idea of being more self-organised, but do not try to change your entire life in one day.
Instead, take a few hours/days/weeks to work through each of the main areas of your life and put some simple, actionable routines and practices into place–and watch how everything flows better, faster and easier! And if a certain routine doesn’t flow well, it’s in your power to make some adjustments.
I’ve got five basic principles for you that you can apply to general life organisation:
Find a to do list system that works for you. It can be just a list in Notes or Reminders in your calendar. Do you use a bullet journal? A master paper or Google Doc “to-do” list? Or a digital app option, like Todoist?
Pick the one that works for you. It needs to be intuitive and it needs to be easy, or you won’t stick to it.
I heard about a client who does a brain dump every morning and lists every single little thing he could think of that needed doing for the day. He then assigned each item a time limit, such as 2 minutes to schedule a doctor’s appointment, and added these items to his daily agenda. He felt freer to conduct his work with an open, uncluttered mind, simply because he listed all those little details on paper.
Use a calendar. (You’ll need it.) I don’t use Reminders as much as I use Events, because I can colour code them so I can see an track time spent on different areas of my business, and separate it by using different calendars for my personal and family life.
Lean into your natural rhythms and inclinations. For example, if you prefer working at night, allow yourself to do it and organise your personal life around those nighttime hours.
Focus on achieving a better balance, rather than keeping up with everything perfectly in your life. If you have to skip a day/week of something, do it. Your aim is productivity, not perfection.
Drop the ball, as needed. If you follow the advice here, your life will flow easier. But that doesn’t mean you’ll always get it all done, all the time. Allow yourself the grace to drop the ball (or several balls) if needed, then revisit your schedule and routines for some fine tuning.
Cultivate a Happy & Clean Home
Think about one corner of your house that tends to collect clutter. For me, it’s that tiny piece of kitchen counter on the end of the working top where all the bills, school papers and things that simply don’t have a place gather, creating a mile-high mess. Maybe for you it’s a child’s messy bedroom or even your home office.
How do you feel seeing that clutter?
- Do you just close the door because it’s too much to think about in that moment?
- Do you just want to swipe the papers into the garbage without looking for anything important?
- Does your body have a physical reaction when you enter the room, such as a brief tightening of your chest?
Clutter is chaos and it most definitely affects the energy in our home and our physical energy.
The ancient art of Feng Shui is based on the Chinese beliefs that arranging things in a certain way in our home frees up the energy of the home, which can lead to achieving harmony, balance, prosperity, and wellness. In feng shui, clutter blocks that positive energy, which can negatively affect you and those you live with.
So, let’s clear out those energy blocks by creating a cleaning routine.
We all know how distracting a messy desk or home office can be or how impossible it is to get anything done when there are dirty dishes in the sink. Try the following tips to eliminate the distractions during your day:
Designate a “Deep Clean” day. You’ll want to keep up with smaller tasks during the week, but instead of trying to clean everything, everyday–try choosing a Deep Clean day each week. You can choose to deep clean your whole place, or deep clean just one room and rotate each week.
Develop a daily cleaning routine. Is there one area of your life that tends to collect clutter or drive you crazy when you see it? Devote 15 mins/day to keeping that one (or a few) spaces clean.
As a small business owner this might also be your desk–or the “hot spots” around your home that tend to always collect clutter. This is also a great area of self-organisation to implement tiny habits as described by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits. Link several small habits together so you’re not even thinking about them; they just flow together naturally.
In your home office, think about how you feel walking in and seeing a clean desk. A neat office means it’ll feel nice and cozy, and you’ll actually WANT to spend more time there. It’s worth the 15 mins/day!
Clear the papers, spend some time shredding, empty the garbage, and avoid your office becoming the “throw all” room for clothing donations and anything else that is not business-related.
Another distraction for many people is in the kitchen, specifically having messy sinks. Yep, seriously! FlyLady suggests keeping your sinks clean and disinfected at a bare minimum every single day. This includes keeping dishes out the sink. If a messy sink is your downfall, decide how often you’ll do dishes. Can you create a dishes routine, so they don’t ruin your life and productivity?
Try loading the dishwasher every night to declutter that sink and unloading it every morning as part of a morning routine (or whenever it needs to be done). And make use of that pots and pans setting on your dishwasher! Load up that top rack for quicker clean up.
Tackle your never-ending piles of laundry. Do you live out of laundry baskets and/or feel like you’re never caught up? Between everyday clothes, workout clothes, and kids’ sports uniforms this chore can seem never-ending. Couple this with kids who don’t know how to place their dirty clothes in the hamper yet and you have one more source of clutter.
Start with these laundry organising tips and then tweak them to serve your life and your schedule:
- Choose a laundry day or choose to do a load every morning. This will vary depending on the size of your family, how much laundry you normally go through, and whether or not you have a washing machine in your home or have to go to a laundromat. Either way, pick one and stick to it.
- Pro tip: Do the “hardest” load first if you choose to do a laundry day. This includes if you do at-home dry cleaning, or items that need a special type of wash, etc. Fold it and put it away before moving onto to the next one. Then, work on the “easier” laundry like towels, etc.–they all go in one place, and they’re easy to fold vs. other loads of laundry. This will ensure you have energy to get through all of it and get it put away in one day.
- Enlist your family to help. Little kids can sort whites, colors and towels. Older elementary kids can certainly help fold and put away their laundry while pre-teens and teens can handle their own laundry after a quick tutorial about how to turn the washer and dryer on.
Try feng shui. Yes, I mentioned this earlier in relation to clutter but the practice of feng shui includes so much more. Based on the ancient teachings of chi (energy) and how it travels through our homes and our bodies, feng shui experts teach how to arrange the furniture in your home for optimal chi. You can go even further and learn how to arrange each individual room to produce optimal results. You’ll find many beginner books from the library to map out each room or look up beginner feng shui videos on YouTube.
Or, if you don’t have the desire to dive deep into feng shui, simply find ways to open up your living spaces by rearranging furniture and eliminating things that aren’t necessary. Make a list of anything in your home that literally trips you up. Is there a piece of furniture or item that needs fixing that would free up either mental, physical or energetic space?
For example, a broken back door that makes it hard to let the dogs in and out, or the office chair that causes back pain, etc. Prioritise taking care of these little energetic sucks; chances are you’ve worried about these fixes much longer than it will take to get them fixed!
These are just a few examples of things that cause clutter and chaos. If these aren’t your problem areas, then look to see areas that do cause you stress and chaos.
And don’t overthink the plans you make to tackle those areas of your self-organisation. Overthinking can either lead you into “analysis paralysis” or will make a plan much more complicated than it needs to be. How can you resolve your problem spots in as few steps as possible?
Meal Prep & Plan for More Productivity (and Pleasure!)
How many times have you reached the end of your workday only to be faced with the annoying question of, “What’s for dinner?” I admit, I’m guilty of doing this countless times, which is really interesting because it’s not like we don’t prepare dinner every single day of the week. This is a prime example of not having a plan.
Meal planning and grocery shopping is another common time suck for ALL people. Thinking about all that is involved: meal planning, prepping, cooking, and shopping is enough to make you grab the takeout menu and place an order.
As a small business owner, if you don’t have a meal plan, you’re just adding stress onto an already busy day. How can you make this part of self organisation for business owners easier on yourself? Whether you’re working from home or the office, these tips are golden!
Meal plan on Sundays. It sounds simple (and skippable) but mapping out your meals for each day can really help in a few ways: 1) it eliminates decision fatigue, 2) ensures you buy only what you need and actually eat it and 3) saves time and money as a result. Just imagine how much easier life will be when you can easily take out what you need from the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner before you go to bed, all because you created a meal plan?
Other ideas include eating the same breakfast every day, eating the previous night’s leftovers for lunch the following day, or designating each day of the week a particular “night” (i.e.. Taco Tuesday, Meatless Monday, etc.)
Using the excuse, “I forgot to do it,” is simply an avoidance technique. If necessary, schedule this task on your calendar or set a reminder on your phone. Do you already plan for your business for the week? Add this bit onto the routine you already do, and schedule your meals into your calendar or To Do List just like you would any other task.
Choose a day to grocery shop and meal prep. If you dread grocery shopping, then utilize Instacart or another store’s shopping app so you can shop in the comfort of your own home.
Once the shopping is done, instead of just putting everything away, take the time to wash and chop your produce. Not only does this eliminate the opaque plastic produce bags in your fridge, but it saves you time having to wash and chop as you’re preparing a meal. This type of prep also makes grabbing a health snack easy.
Prepping meats in advance is up to your personal preference. Some people like to cook their meats in advance and then assemble the entire meal in individual serving size containers for the week.
If you prefer to cook your meat on the same day as you eat it, prep the meat by adding the seasonings or marinade or forming your burgers or meatballs out of the ground beef before freezing them. Whatever you do in advance is still a time saver on those busy nights after work.
Another superior time saver is signing up for a meal subscription service. You can choose to do this regularly, or just have it available as a back-up option for super busy weeks. These companies do all the planning for you, even down to measuring out your ingredients!
In general, you choose the recipes you want for the week, place the order, then the ingredients and recipe cards arrive at your home on your chosen delivery date. All you have to do is prepare the meal!
Create a rotating “family favourites” meal plan. I get it; meal planning can be a real drag if you’re not a savvy cook or if you have picky eaters in your family. However, take a family poll on any meals that you prepare and ask if it’s something worth keeping in your rotation. You might be surprised by their answers!
Once you have 30 recipes, keep them in a Pinterest board or a physical binder in your cabinet so you can mix and match these recipes into a new meal plan every week. I know some people who reuse these EXACT meal plans once a month!
You already know your family like the meals and eating the same meal 30 days apart shouldn’t feel like you’re repeating yourself too frequently.
When the spirit strikes, continue adding in new recipes.
Utilise casseroles, soups, and slow cookers. These are all types of meals where you throw everything into one bag or pot and in a few hours, you have a healthy meal. Once all your produce is washed and cut, take one recipe at a time to create these one-pan/one-pot wonders. Most casseroles can be prepped and then frozen until you need it.
Refuel Your Spirit with Regular Routines
Do you jump out of bed in the morning, ready to face the day with a smile on your face? Or are you hitting the snooze button until the very last second before you’re running late?
Self organisation for business owners working from home means that every day you wake up feeling good! Let’s focus on that as the goal. But let’s first have a think about how you feel about waking up and your immediate attitude about the day.
Many people who wake up excited and happy fill their lives with gratitude and joyful activities. They might use a gratitude journal at night time to help soothe their brains and those grateful feelings often carry over into your morning attitude.
Getting enough sleep is in general vitally important, especially for small business owners who can fall into the trap of “burning the candle at both ends” by continuing to work late into the night after their family falls asleep.
Hitting the snooze button might be a physical response to not getting enough sleep or it might be a procrastination response about not wanting to face something difficult on your schedule.
When you don’t give your brain and body time to relax, waking up stressed about the day – or waking up hours before your alarm – can be signals that you’re overworking yourself to the point of exhaustion.
Let’s discuss a few routines that you can implement fairly easily throughout your day. Start small and then add on as necessary.
Morning routine. You’ve probably heard of (or implemented) some type of morning routine as a business owner. If you don’t have one yet, now is the time to start. A solid morning routine will help you start your day feeling energised, positive, and organised.
When creating your morning routine, think about the following:
- What absolutely must get done each morning? (i.e., lunches for kids, school drop-off, etc.)
- What would you LOVE to get done each morning? This will differ from person-to-person, but ideas might include meditation, reading, exercise. Think about something that you know makes you feel good, or something you can’t ever seem to “squeeze” in but would make you so happy to do so.
- Don’t include more than 4 rituals–you don’t want this simple routine to take up your whole day. It just helps you get your head right every day and makes sure what’s most important AND most pressing for you is taken care of. Eventually, it will become second nature and you won’t have to think about it.
Many morning routine advocates suggest getting up 30-60 minutes earlier than the rest of your family to get started, especially if you want to do meditation or religious reading. Often those types of quiet activities are more meaningful in a quiet house but ultimately, you need to create a routine and carve out the appropriate time that works for you.
Exercise. Doctors have touted the benefits of daily exercise for years and yet it’s all too easy to find excuses for not doing it. Everybody needs to move so it’s time to create an easy-to-follow exercise routine that you’ll actually stick to. That might look like doing cardio on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and HIIT on Tuesday and Thursday every week. Or maybe that means walking outside on your lunch break or hitting the gym to do weight training before your start the workday.
Next, decide what kind of exerciser you are. Do you prefer solitude or a gym atmosphere with other people? Do you have any exercise equipment at home? Plan ways to keep yourself motivated if you decide to exercise at home. Maybe set up a reward system for exercising 5 times a week or use an app on your phone to log your exercise progress.
Use a tracking app where you can log any type of exercise (walking, running, biking, etc.), count time or steps or calories. It can be very motivating and rewarding to see consistency and maybe the odd personal best day. Since you’re only competing against yourself, even those who are not in optimal physical health can participate at their own pace.
Pre-planning your workouts by purchasing class or passes in advance can also help with your motivation because now you have “skin in the game”. Nobody likes wasting money so you’ll be more likely to go to the gym if you prepay.
When you’re planning your week, go ahead and schedule yourself for yoga, or bootcamp, or whatever it is you do. Even if you don’t go to an actual gym, you can still schedule “Do a YouTube yoga class” into your calendar.
Then, it’s set for the week like a regular appointment, and you don’t have to think about it, and others can’t book into your calendar at that time.
As I mentioned in the last episode, during the month of August, I dog sit for the most adorable little terrier lab cross called Buttons. And when I start it can feel stressful to hit the ground running taking him out for walks twice a day or spending time playing with him. Then when I leave it all suddenly stops again!
But what I find interesting is where I find the time to take a couple of hours out of my day for this, even when one of those weeks is a run of two almost back-to-back mastermind events. But I do, because that time out does me so much good, that I’m way more productive when I do sit down to work. It’s counterintuitive universal truths – taking time out for the right things gives you back that time in productivity and focus gains.
Self-care routines. A self-care routine is anything you do to take care of yourself on a mental, physical, or even spiritual/emotional level. So often we think of self-care routines as beauty routines, but “self-care” actually encompasses so much more than just beauty. Again, explore those activities that make you smile and/or make you excited.
Here are a few self-care ideas which are wonderful on their own or you can bundle a few together for an actual routine:
- Play with a dog/pet.
- Hug someone.
- Do a jigsaw puzzle.
- Tackle a crossword.
- Take a bath.
- Go on a mini-adventure.
- Learn a new skill.
- Do a DIY project.
- Get creative with some art supplies.
- Create a gratitude journal.
- Talk to a friend.
- Create a bucket list.
Beauty routines – yes even for guys. Can you set aside one day – or a particular day each week – to take care of your appearance? It can really boost your self-esteem and just feels nice to spoil yourself a little, have some ‘me-time’.
I tend to take care of this on a Friday morning, to set myself up for the weekend even if I intend to work some of the time. You might choose “Self-Care Sunday” – and include painting your nails, trimming your hair or beard or tweezing eyebrows, etc.
Or if you’re an early riser, maybe you leave Monday morning first thing as your ‘Set up for the Week’ time. Maybe once a month you create a couple of hours or a half-day as your special time to get your hair or nails done, go to the barbers or book a manicure, pedicure or massage, or go buy a new outfit.
A care routine doesn’t have to cost money or time to drive there if you DIY it too, add a beauty or meditation routine to your evening wrap up, such as cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizsng every night.
I used to do this a lot, I admit I’ve fallen off the wagon on that lately but then I shifted what was important to me too, so I changed what I do in my special time. Now I go for a longer than usual walk or if it’s raining, I’ll do a puzzle or read a book. I read a lot of business books and do a lot of courses to keep my finger on the pulse, but I rarely read novels these days, so that feels to me like vacation time.
Self-care routines whether it’s physical, spiritual or mental self-care makes it easier to know when things are going to get done. Routines also give you extra brainpower to focus on your creative work in your business.
Enlist subscription options at your favourite stores so your regular products are auto-shipped, so you don’t run short. That small little thing can save you time and stress with that list of ‘oh I mustn’t forget to…’ tasks.
Evening routine. Just as a morning routine can get you ready for your day, an evening routine will calm your brain and your body, getting you ready for a good night’s sleep. Even though we don’t hear as much about evening routines, they can be just as helpful.
To decide what to include in your evening routine, go through the same process you did for your morning routine:
- What NEEDS to be done each night? (i.e., brush teeth, skincare, self-care, etc.)
- What would you LOVE to make time for each night? Reading, journaling, turning off electronics an hour before bed, connecting with your partner for 5 minutes about the next day’s schedule, etc.
- Get creative but also choose items that will truly give you a sense of calm and tranquility so your brain can rest.
A great idea for an evening routine that benefits everyone, but especially business owners, is a daily brain dump. Write down everything you’re thinking about – what you need to do, ideas you have, etc. – so you’re not up all night thinking about things that need to be done and hoping you remember them in the morning!
This is a biggie for me, personally, as if I don’t do that, I can lay awake with a tonne of random stuff popping up that stops me falling into blissful sleep.
And If you’re prone to waking up with “middle of the night” inspired thoughts or to dos, keep a notepad on your nightstand to capture these. It makes you worry less about that great idea slipping from mind.
So that’s it for part 2!
Self organisation for business owners working from home does not have to be a project in itself. Just make a few changes step by step towards better routines.
In the third and final part coming soon, we’ll change tack and look at eliminating stress in your actual business by setting stronger boundaries for when you’re working on your business and available outside of the business, even when you’re ‘at home’.
Ciao ciao for now!