If there is one piece of advice I wish someone had shared with me when I was first starting my web design business, it would have been to develop daily habits to adhere to. In other words, establish a daily routine. It took me a very long time to get structure in my business and now it’s the key to operating my company of one without the stress I used to feel on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, there are days that are still tough, but overall, systems have saved me.
Here are ten daily habits for new web designers to consider:
Develop a pre-work morning routine.
Don’t get out of bed and start working. I have blogged about mine here, but you can customize this any way you want. Rolling out of bed and getting right behind the computer isn’t a good idea for your soul. Take time to read, exercise, have to breakfast and reflect on your day. Even if you need to start early, add time for yourself first.
Plan your day.
I typically do this the night before, but I’m not perfect. When you first sit at your desk, make a to-do list of the top three things you need to get done to feel accomplished (or get paid). I use a great productivity planner for this. It tracks pomodoros, too.
Keep office hours and take lunch.
Get out from behind the desk during the day and shut your office door and night. That means your “out to lunch” and “closed”. It’s tempting to work through lunch, or into the wee hours of the night, but you and your back need a break and a regular routine. If you worked for someone else, they would probably force you to take a lunch. Be a good boss to yourself. Keep normal office hours. This means you don’t email clients when you have left work (even when you work at home).
Keep your email time to a minimum.
Whatever you do, don’t check email all day. Don’t respond immediately to your clients, either. You have to train them to know you aren’t at their beck and call. I check my email for a half hour in the morning, a half hour mid-day and for an hour at the end of the day. When I reply to people, I schedule the emails to go out delayed and during business hours.
Work on your biggest project first.
I block out time to work on the things I need to the most first thing in the morning. Once I log an hour or two on that, I can hit some small things that need attention.
Silence your phone for part of each day.
Don’t answer your phone when you are working on your biggest project. Yes, silence it if you need to or use your do not disturb setting. Don’t allow yourself to be interrupted.
Work in batches.
If you have like tasks, do them all at once, even if they are for different clients. Whether it’s a day of client meetings or time for maintenance requests, set a schedule for like tasks and get more done.
Schedule 2-3 days a week as office only days.
This means your personal appointments don’t happen on these days either. This it time for project work, and administrative things, like invoicing, sending estimates and working on your own marketing.
Schedule calls and meetings in advance.
Send clients invitations to schedule calls or meetings with you and block of time in your calendar for those times. This eliminates interruptions. I use Calendly for this.
Write down what you are accomplishing during the day.
This will make you feel good and help you remember things. A work journal is a great habit to start.
The sooner you start experimenting with what works for you and your clients, the quicker you will form your own daily habits. I quickly learned that having the same meeting day each week didn’t work for many clients, so now I alternate that day each week. I also quickly learned that same day phone call scheduling didn’t work for me. Adjusting your schedule is a skill you will start to master as you grow your business. Just remember, it’s yours to adjust!