Is “Routine” synonymous with “Monotony” ?

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An article in this morning’s Vibrant Nation reminded me of the # 1 reason I will probably always be self employed: I want every day to be new and fresh.  I hear this daily from clients wanting to leave the job world and start their own business. They want to escape the “same, old routine.”

The Vibrant Nation post is titled, “The secret to being your own boss?  Routine!”  However, when I read the article, author Kay Strom’s day is anything but tedious. Her “routine” includes scheduling time for soaking in the tub, a mid-day tea break, coffee dates with friends, daily river walks,  and speaking engagements on cruise ships. Hardly monotonous.

What Kay does that makes her writing life a success is schedule her days so that the things she wants to do have a time slot everyday along with the work she must do, including writing a chapter every single day.

Thinking back to times I’ve been most productive, I realize there was a lot of routine in my day. A couple of years ago, I spent several months in Florida  where I had an investment property. Daily beach walks, the primary constant in my day, had nothing and everything to do with productivity. Each Sunday evening, I checked the tide charts for the following week. Then I scheduled my work day, including appointments and phone calls around low tide. It was a different time each day, of course, but those beach walks were so important to me that I made sure I scheduled everything else I wanted to accomplish that day around them.  Not only were my walks good for my mental and physical well-being but often, my best ideas were born during those walks so I considered them a business necessity.

Like snowflakes, no two beach walks are ever exactly the same and none of my days was just like the one before. Some days I worked at home in my den. Other times, I checked out different coffee shops with internet access. Several times I brought my work to the clinic where I spent hours between medical appointments. Always, I scheduled my “routine” beach walk.

That same year, I spent months living and traveling in my volkswagon camper van. On the road, no two days are the same because the people and environment change, but I did have a kind of routine. Over breakfast, I’d check and answer emails, read a few favorite blogs, check weather and road conditions and decide on my route for the day. I’d usually drive for a few hours, then stop and make client calls, have group mastermind calls or record a telephone interview for my Inspired Livelihood inspired entrepreneur series. I’d have lunch, take a walk and drive a few more hours. At night, I’d write and schedule posts to appear on my blog.

Thinking back on that time, I realize it wasn’t a routine in the sense that I did the same things in the same place at the same time every day but my days did have structure and I believe it is that structure, the scheduled time for the things that matter, that’s the secret to successful self-employment. And structure does not have to be boring.

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