Prefer to listen rather than read?  You can hear an AI-generated voiceover of this blog here:

Ok, so we’ve looked at whether you’re a rebel and, if you are, found some simple techniques to motivate yourself without the usual refusal and rejection.

And found ways to build helpful habits whilst honouring your need to call the shots.

This week’s blog is about how to harness the benefits of a routine, when you’re a free spirit and like to go with the flow

The more we can automate what we’re trying to do, the easier it tends to be and that’s where routines come in.  When days and weeks take on a regular shape, it helps most people to do what’s needed.  But creating rigid routines or “regimes” can be so demotivating for a rebel.  Think feeling trapped, lacking agency, confined in rules and regulations – aaargh.

Yet having free time and free will is not always the panacea imagined.

When everything’s up for grabs, it can be tricky to shape goals, make decisions and find momentum.

So how can we create a routine that works for us rebels – or as I prefer to think of it, a rhythm to our days and weeks?  Something which gives us flow but that we can influence and change.  My answer is to create a loose “framework” using those locked in times and habits (see last week’s blog) whilst leaving space for contingency, flexibility and freedom.

Here’s a few pointers:

  • I’m a big believer in using visual tools for this and I love going analogue, so grab a big piece of paper, coloured pencils and a variety of post-its so you can play with your options (or use an online time planner or scheduler if that’s more your thing).
  • Make a framework of those actions that are happening regularly, that we mentioned last week. So, for many, that can be bed time, sleep time, wake time, get up time, meal times, school run times, dog walk times, extracurricular classes, regular work meetings or tasks, set client hours, gym classes, teeth cleaning. Capture anything that’s already locked in.

  • And then start to play with options for the time that’s left…
  • For automating small tasks, tag them onto something that’s fixed already. Check in with yourself to see if every day works for you – each day doesn’t have to be the same!

  • Create “chunks” of time that have a theme (I’m specifically thinking from a self-employed mindset here but I do think you can bring this favour to employed work too, and of course free time).
    • For example, create sessions in your diary for admin, accounts, strategy, marketing/creativity etc. and fix what gets done, when to create a rhythm
    • Consider what feels good to you and balance out times of constraint with times of more freedom, such as admin first thing Monday after “free” weekend; Canva creativity Thursday 3.30 – 5.30 after fixed client commitments
    • Within each theme, you have the flexibility to choose where you focus – no rules there.
  • Strengthen this framework by including some contingency and free time into the week to allow you to move things round or follow your inspiration

  • Use colour coding for different themes, including personal stuff like socialising, self care, fun, family etc. It’s a good way of seeing how you’re doing with balance, and again find some flow.

There’s a few ideas to get started.  What has worked for you?

Remember, this is about creating a natural rhythm to your time, rather than conforming to a restrictive regime.   I like to see my framework as a bare metal clothes rack from which I hang things on.  It gives some structure and support, some “themed” sections where I have agency, and space to follow my instincts, move things round, set the agenda.

And don’t forget…

  • You may find it difficult to work with a routine because it feels too restrictive. Be compassionate with yourself about this and keep trying to find your own level of rhythmic flow
  • Try and think of this time as an experiment where you “scattergun” lots of small attempts to see what works for you. No right, or wrong – just gathering data and looking for clues.
  • Remember to schedule the nice stuff too (which can still be tricky to make happen). Nothing worse than a list of tough stuff only!

Don’t struggle with this stuff on your own.  I specialise in helping quiet rebels and sensitive souls to ditch the doubt, stop spinning on the spot and take their place.  Let’s talk if you need a helping hand.