Creating a Routine: Tips for Business Routines

Routines are a part of life. They help you stay focused on the things that are most important. They provide the structure and continuity that you — and your clients and customers — rely on to do business efficiently and effectively. Business routines are a good thing.

Of course, some business routines are better than others. Here are some routine tips for creating a routine that can bring you success rather than failure:

Establish a regular work schedule.
Maintain regular business hours just as you would if you were working for a regular business.

It doesn’t matter if you decide to work from 9 to 5 or from 5 to 9, so long as your schedule meets your needs and the needs of your clients and customers.

As the owner of your own small business, you get to decide!

Take plenty of short breaks.
When you work in a regular business, you have lots of opportunities to take breaks from your business routine.

A phone call from a friend, a visit from a vendor, a lunch break with your associates, or a quick walk to a nearby deli — all offer a break from the routine.

If you work at home, such breaks are much fewer and farther between, and you have to make a point of taking them.

Schedule appointments for yourself, friends, and family.
The everyday events that take place in a typical business — home-based or not — can quickly fill up your schedule.

While you may have planned to get out for a relaxing lunch with friends, go to the gym to work out, or attend your daughter’s awards ceremony, you may find yourself glued to the phone or computer instead.

Instead of “trying” to do the things you want to do, schedule firm appointments to do these things instead.

Just as you would schedule an appointment to meet with a client, schedule an appointment to meet with your spouse over lunch or go for a walk.

Start your workday the same way every day.
Create a routine around starting your workday.

For example, you may make a pot of coffee, check your e-mail and voice-mail messages, read The Wall Street Journal, and then begin making sales calls.

You decide what to do in your business routine; the point is to have a routine and to follow it.

End your workday the same way every day.
So many businesspeople complain about not having enough time to sit down and really think ahead and to plan, but few do anything about it.

Here’s your chance to do just that.

At the end of your workday, take 15 minutes to go over what happened that day and then review your priorities and schedules for the next day.

File away any papers that need filing, and straighten up your desk so that you come back to an organized workspace on your next day of work.

If you feel that your work life — and maybe even your personal life — is chaotic and out of control, perhaps you should step back for a moment and take a closer look at how you run your life.

Using the preceding list, create a routine for your life so that you can rely on it day after day, week after week.