This advice came from Mark Smith, a friend and talented computer engineer who has been successfully self-employed for as long as I’ve know him. It’s the greatest advice anyone has ever given me regarding working from home. Over the years, and as I developed the discipline to work without (too much), distraction my routine has changed but I still have a routine.
How I started
Initially my fake commute routine looked like this: Wake up, shower, stretch, get dressed and leave the house. No email or TV and no lounging in underwear all day. When you’re moving, your blood is flowing and that gets oxygen to your brain and the ol' endorphins flow. Ever wonder why you get great ideas while you’re walking? Bingo.
My fake commute had three parts. 1) Walk to a cafe while thinking about, and prioritizing, projects. 2) Drink coffee and identify questions and areas of interest for the day’s project. 3) Walk home, start making connections between ideas and visualizing solutions.
The five part routine
These days my day looks a little different. 1) Wake up and make coffee, 2) Drink coffee while writing all email and correspondence. Email is my least favorite task of the day so I get it done early to clear my brain. If any research is needed for the work I'll be doing that day I'll do it now. 3) Workout. Again, this gets the blood flowing and creates some distance between my monkey chatter and actual priorities. 4) Lunch. 5) Work. Having cleared my brain, loosened up my body and eaten, I'm ready to sit down for a few hours of solid work. I like to work in short bursts, an hour or two, then take a break.
Is this routine perfect? No. Is it guaranteed to help get shit done. No. Will I still be doing this routine a year from now? Probably not. But at the moment this pattern helps me ease into my day, feel good about what I'm doing and, ultimately, end the day satisfied that work got done and I took care of myself along the way. As project change, as my needs change, so will my routine.
For me, the key components are:
- Clear the brain
- Feed the brain
- Take care of the body
- Create space to work undistracted for short bursts of time