Creating Structure Out of the Basics
It’s often up to freelancers to create any kind of structure in their lives. They aren’t getting it from work, and unless they’re taking classes, school won’t help organize their days either. There are certainly those freelancers who prefer the lack of structure. They operate better free form, off the cuff. However true that is, we all need structure sometimes, and most of us need it most of the time. Just because we’ve chosen to freelance doesn’t mean we become wandering vagabonds. Freelancers are professionals who need to produce work in a timely fashion just like any employee. Whatever kind of work schedule you’ve given yourself is only half the battle. The other half is your life schedule. When do you wake up? When do you eat breakfast? Or workout? Or Shower? Or moisturize? Planning these things out is going to produce that much needed structure in your life, and even improve the quality of your work.
WE ARE WHAT WE EAT
Other than maybe laundry, no part of your daily or weekly routine takes longer than cooking. This is why the process of shopping, cooking, and eating is often what we build our daily routines around. Now you may not be much of a home cook (or you can barely fry an egg) but try your best to implement cooking into your routine. Not only is it healthier and cheaper but it’s one of the best ways to implement structure. You don’t need to cook every meal, one meal a day is fine. If it works better, you can cook one day for the whole week. You’ll need to pick recipes that last in the fridge though.
If and when you do eat out, maybe go pick up your food rather than get it delivered. These suggestions aren’t to make your life hard, but a lot of our modern conveniences make it so we can have and do everything at any time. While on the surface this may seem like it saves time, in actuality it makes us waste more time than ever. That’s really what structure is saving you, time. What structure can be built out of pressing a button on your phone and food showing up at the door? More substantial and consistent activities like cooking or driving are needed to create structure.
It can sometimes feel as though you’re constantly moving, never stopping to take a breath. A hectic work life, however successful it may seem, is always going to catch up with you. It’s important to be able to stay level headed, even on a packed work day. One of the best ways to do this is to exercise. Exercising is proven to reduce anxiety and help you relax. We all know exercise improves your health which can improve stress, but it also gives you a sense of control. The hour (or however long) you work out is, is an hour you have complete control. You also control when that hour occurs. If you’re a morning person, then perhaps morning exercise works better for you. If you’re doing a resistance workout (lifting weights) you need to spend some time warming up and stretching. Not doing so is the easiest way to hurt yourself. If you want to fit in a workout as quick as possible and skip the warmup, then workout later in the day. Your body is already warmed up and full of calories so you don’t need to spend as much time pre-workout. Cardio on the other hand you can do pretty much any time. The best way to actually implement structure promoting activities is for them to be convenient. The more convenient, the more likely you are to actually do them.
It’s the thing your mom always did before bed to keep her young. We’ve all developed morning and night routines in front of the bathroom mirror. This is a good thing by the way. There’s nothing wrong with a little vanity. Having a transitional activity to either end or start the day (eating and exercise can be part of that as well) can help separate work and life, and prevent one from bleeding into the other. You might want to wash up the minute you get out of bed. It can be a good way to wake you up without having to rely on coffee. You probably don’t want to start your nightly routine right before bed. How many times have you skipped brushing your teeth or moisturizing because you were tired and just wanted to hit the hay? Washing up is also a good way to wind down from the rest of the day and you’ll probably want to do that a few hours before bed anyway.
These are all pretty basic activities. You don't need to spend an hour every day building a ship in a bottle to create structure. Basic is best in this scenario, and the most important aspect of any of these activities is that they become routines. If you work out a couple times a week on random days, or shower at a different time every day, then you aren’t creating structure. You don't have to live every day exactly the same, but it's actually good for most days to be fairly similar. While it may seem counterintuitive, a little bit of structure provides even more freedom.