Having A Plan – 4 Steps

  • September 4th, 2015

When I had your “typical” 9-5 office programming job, some things were a lot easier.

Getting a start on the day was particularly easy. When I woke up in the morning, all I had to do is get my ass to work. This meant: take a shower (maybe), get dressed, grab my laptop, and walk to the train. The train would take me to my office. On the way, I could start thinking about what I had to do for the day. It was a routine – and a simple one at that. It was driven by the general idea that I liked my work – and the expectation that the office is where I go to do my work.

Though, I haven’t always had the luxury of a career I enjoyed – a career working in IT.

There were years of my life spent working rather menial jobs. And negative emotions, in these cases, were the main drivers. Fear, embarrassment, anxiety – those things are powerful enough motivators. And lots of people have jobs like this. I guess that’s something to remember next time someone is sighing at 6:30 in the morning in line at Dunkin Donuts.

Now, as a free agent (freelancer, contractor, independent project), I don’t have any built-in routines. I talk to most of my clients less than once a week. Honestly, I could get up and do nothing for a number of days. Also, there’s not much in the way of negative emotions to drive me (perhaps because I’ve been down all those roads before – and the “negative” outcomes aren’t so bad). I’m my own boss, for better or for worse. And without some self discipline – there are terrible ups and downs to my productivity.

So, I have found that a simple daily routine works for me, and as ridiculous as it sounds, here it is:

1. Make the bed

Seriously. An easy way to get something done. Sometimes if you want to be in control, you have to start small. I know nothing of the military, but I’m pretty sure at basic training they make you make your bed every day. Here’s an article on how you can make your bed like a soldier.

2. Start the coffee

I’m a coffee fanatic – and use a french press. So I’ll start the water, and put 2-3 scoops of ground coffee in the bottom of the french press. During the week (when I’m in high fat, low carb), I’ll make caveman coffee.

3. Meditation – 10 minutes

Next, I’ll meditate for 10 minutes using the Headspace app. Headspace is a great tool – and their tagline “Meditation Made Simple” is apt. Very simple – and they start you with basic, guided meditation, just for 10 minutes. Give it a try.

4. Make list of 3 – 5 important to-dos

You can only get so many things done in a day. The more you do, the less intensive the tasks have to be. You have to pick things that have the greatest effect. But, this also does not necessarily mean they have to be the most taxing or take the longest. Some of the “hardest” things you think you should do have the least effect. So, choose wisely.

Some days are still much better than others. This is by no means a foolproof method. But it does help me with being more consistently productive. Feel free to give it a try!

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4 responses to “Having A Plan – 4 Steps”

  1. Dina says:

    Thanks for this article. I’m about to leave the 9-5 in two weeks. I’ve always said that my 9-5 always felt easy for me because all I had to do was just get to work. I like the tips for a simple routine. Makes sense. ☺

  2. Dan Lee says:

    Timely advice Eric in this time of such volatility. I particularly like your point relating to the wasted anxious energy we all expend worrying about possible negative outcomes. I am a 42 year old that works for a global software vendor and often these simple approaches get forgotten in amongst the pressure of a high workload. So what if a few things don’t happen when they should. Thanks alot for taking the time to share.

    • Erik says:

      Hi there Dan – thank you for checking out the blog.

      I hope these tips benefit you – and like you these days I work in software development for a big firm. I know having a routine is always important, but maybe more so in that type of environment. I’m far from perfect with it though.

      Thanks again for stopping by!

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