If you’re a freelancer or a remote worker, chances are you’ve already got much less monotony in your work routine than your buddies who work in offices.
You don’t necessarily have to get up at the same time, Monday to Friday.
You’re not expected to be on the clock during the same hours every day.
You don’t have to work from an air-conditioned office all day long.
But even freelancers fall into routines. Before long, you’ll likely have found a schedule that works for you and slipped into your own groove.
Don’t get me wrong: routine can be a good thing. Setting up some structure for your day will help you feel more ordered and calm. Not to mention, you can be more productive if you don’t have to waste energy every day on decisions about what to work on, when.
But if you stick with them too long, routines can become monotonous and your calm can quickly turn to boredom or frustration.
Finding little ways to break out of your routine can rejuvenate your creativity and productivity, and help you feel happier with your working life.
Here are a few things to try.
1. Start your morning with something different
If your typical morning consists of rolling out of bed, feeling around for the coffee maker, and rubbing the sleep out of your eyes while your computer wakes up, perhaps a little shift in the way you start your day is just what you need.
Even if you have a little more energy than that in your mornings, choosing a different way to spend the time directly before work could have a real impact on how the rest of your day pans out. Give a new form of exercise a go, meditate, listen to a podcast, read some industry news, or try a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Make the most of the time outside of your work, and you’ll feel much more inclined to make your working hours count, too.
2. Add some new scenery to your day
One of major benefits of freelancing is your ability to work from anywhere. Even if it’s just for half the day, go and work in a coffee shop, a library, or outside in the park. You could even work from a new city for the day, with a little planning.
New scenery can help get your inspirational juices flowing. If you can’t change your workspace, try taking a new route there (which might mean a walk around the block if you’re working from home). Maybe you can even find a new way of commuting, like riding a bike or taking public transport.
3. Shake up your lunch break
If you typically go for the same sandwich day in, day out, give yourself a reward once a week by finding a new recipe to make for your lunch or a new local cafe to try out. Or spend your lunch hour doing something different – like meeting up with a freelance friend, working out, or learning something new.
4. Listen to music
The right music can lift your spirits, help you focus, and get rid of tension. I like to genre hop each day. One day I’m back in the ‘60s, the next I’m at an EDM festival, and the next it’s reggae all the way. It’s such an easy thing to change, and it adds a little interest to my work week. I also keep a group chat with a bunch of music-loving friends where we each share a ‘song of the day’, so we can always find something new to listen to.
5. Review your habits regularly
Try the ‘Stop, Start, and Keep Doing’ method. At the beginning or end of the week, make time for some reflection on what’s working well for you, what you need to let go of, and what new habits to incorporate in your life.
Time to change it up
They say a change is as good as a holiday, so perhaps all you need is a break in your monotony to feel as if you’ve taken a break. You don’t necessarily need to overhaul your whole work routine; with a little rearrangement or reshuffling, you’ll feel rejuvenated and re-inspired. And if that doesn’t work… maybe an actual holiday is in order.