I recently realised that I need to build structure, routines and deadlines into my life, despite trying to escape exactly those things while working a full time job.

Often when people leave their jobs to work on their own thing the pendulum swings too far the other way in terms of freedom. Without an immense about of self discipline and drive, you have far too much unstructured time and it’s hard to decide what to fill it with.

It’s taken me a surprisingly long time to realise this because of hating my time being accounted for while having a job and I didn't want to believe it. But having run some experiments it’s very clear that I need to put things in place so I do the things I need to do, without relying on self-motivation.

This is different for everyone, but for me this has looked like trying to enforce a 9-5 Monday to Friday work schedule, with added flexibility when I want it.

Deadlines have also helped me here. Far too often I’ve let deadlines slip me by. Missing these has led to being fired by clients or falling out of any publishing schedule, heavily impacting my growth. For the past few weeks I’ve made my deadlines non-negotiable.

  • Every Wednesday I have Indie Bites and my client podcast published at 6am
  • Every Thursday I publish Make Lemonade at 4pm
  • Every Friday I have my other client edit deadlines

This means within that 9-5 schedule I can have as much flexibility as I want, as long as I hit those deadlines. It’s easier to stick to the 9-5 daily, but when I want a Monday afternoon off (sometimes necessary) I know that I’ll have to sacrifice a Tuesday evening, or wake up a few hours earlier to hit my deadlines.

Part of solving this was planning my week. Specific days where I record and edit, with the amount of time it takes for each piece of work accounted for. Adding in structure. But the key thing - scheduling in breathing room. There is absolutely no point packing my schedule with work and deadlines when one little slip makes me out of sync. So making my Thursday and Fridays more open gives me the breathing room I need.

Those Thursday and Fridays, if I’m feeling good, also help me build up a buffer so I’m not always scrambling to hit my deadlines. It’s something I’m yet to fully do, but building up a backlog of podcast episodes or wallets I can ship is going to make those times when I’m not nailing my schedule much less stressful.

This is all a work in progress but I wanted to share my current thoughts because it’s something that has helped me a lot over the past few months.

The next step in me becoming a happier person is tackling my numbers head on. Understanding my finances and getting a grip on business growth. I’ve never been one to understand exactly where my finances are in the moment but it’s something I think is going to help me a lot going forward. So, time to build something into my schedule to dig into it.