Late spring I went back to a full-time freelance routine after spending two of my days working in an office part-time at Muscle & Fitness magazine for three years. With the warmer temps, sunny days and a lax schedule I realized I needed discipline if I wanted to achieve some freelance goals this season. Besides having a steady paycheck direct deposited into my bank account every two weeks, part of the reason I really appreciated the in-house editor job I had was that it added structure to my week. I tended to be very productive on the days I wasn’t in the office because I had to be in order to tackle freelance assignments.
Since I’m working on freelance assignments for magazines, websites, and brands, and kick-starting my own online freelance writing course this summer, I want to improve my morning routine to maximize productivity, flexibility and enjoyment of my favorite time of year.
My most frequent morning routine is waking up to an alarm around 8, putting coffee on and then listening to a guided meditation in bed while my java brews. After doing 10 to 15 minutes of a meditation, I’ll turn on ABC news, check my phone for texts, open my curtains to let sunlight in, eat breakfast and drink a cup of coffee. I’ll probably scan my email on my phone to see if I need to address anything right away, skim news headlines, likely watch “LIVE With Kelly and Ryan,” and respond to texts from my fiancé from the night before. Hopefully, my laptop is open and I’m working with the TV off by 9:30 a.m., starting to check off some items on the to-do list I wrote the night before. I’ll turn off phone notifications for most of the morning as well.
Ideally, I’d like to either wake up and exercise before starting my day, or work on an assignment that’s due, or start writing for myself before I dive into email nonsense and put my priorities on the back burner. My most productive mornings would include having a draft of an article written before lunch and the bulk of my most important tasks done by early afternoon.
I asked a few freelance friends who work from home what their optimal morning routine is when they want to have a productive day. Here’s what they said:
“On my best days, I wake up around 6 and am at my desk by 6:30 a.m. I fight the urge to check emails and instead dive straight into writing something, whether it’s an article for a client that requires fresh brainpower or a creative nonfiction essay of my own. If I can write for two hours straight, or even one, before checking my emails, chances are I’ll have what I consider a successful day. This is definitely a ‘best case’ scenario!
“My worst days are when I’m reactive to my inbox, as opposed to doing the actual work I love. One of the reasons I wanted to work for myself was to be able to reclaim commute time and turn it into something productive. It’s a lot of time when you think about it! This is an upgrade that benefits my clients (because I can now capitalize on the time of day when I’m most creative) and keeps me more in balance as an individual. I think a lot of freelancers can probably relate to this.” – Laura Vrcek, Freelance Brand Journalist at Purple Pages
“On my best days, I take morning walk first thing. It used to be to the coffee shop to pick up a hot cuppa for the energy jolt, but it’s become a longer, noncaffeinated more peaceful walk through a local park along the waterfront. I find as a writer it is key to allow yourself time to daydream, soak in life experience, see, feel and think. I watch furry tails at the dog park, cooing (or crying!) babies with their nannies, sunbathers, execs on frantic calls, speedwalkers, and most importantly, breathe in nature’s unfathomable beauty. It’s a lot of positive stimulation and think time with which to jumpstart the day.
“When I want to get serious work done and have a productive day, I always make a healthy but fast breakfast (oatmeal, yogurt and fruit, maybe a few scrambled eggs), put on music, light a candle and sit at my desk. I’m very big into rituals and mindfulness and find making my breakfast is a peaceful time of using my hands and senses and preparation. Our brains need fuel! I spend a half hour responding to any new emails, check in on the news of the day, then feel ready to dive in and do a good three- to four-hour session attacking the assignments in the cue. I try hard not to answer emails or calls or check social media when working—this can drive my mother and husband crazy, but my work is best without distraction. I’m one of those people who can disconnect for a whole day and feel blissfully tranquil.” – Julie D. Andrews, copywriter, creative strategist at JulesInk.com
“I am very routined and always do the same thing every morning: I wake up at 7, work out at home, and then meditate for 20 minutes. Then first thing I do is check email. I know you’re not supposed to, but I have to see who has replied, as far as editors and sources, so I can make any adjustments to my schedule if necessary.
I work out in the morning because otherwise it often doesn’t happen (I get too tunnel visioned on work), and it really sets my day off right. The meditation then gives me a bit more ‘me’ time to find some quiet before the chaos of the day starts.” -Brittany Risher, Digital Strategist, Editor, Writer at BrittanyRisher.com
What’s your morning routine? How have you improved it to become more productive? Feel free to share in the comments below and I’ll try to include some in a future blog post!
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