Establishing a regular routine is important if you're a freelancer, or really if you're anybody who works from home. Getting yourself in the right mindset to work is very important, even if you love what you do. If you're not in the right mindset, you're not going to be as productive as you could be. The other day I did a not-so-scientific experiment; I didn't follow my routine. I wanted to see what the effect was of not getting myself in the right mindset.
Since going freelance, I quickly found out how important routine is to keeping oneself going. We're creatures of habit, and it's easy to train ourselves to get into certain mindsets. On the day I conducted the "experiment" I slept in and didn't shower until the afternoon. I got almost nothing done that day because I wasn't putting myself in the productivity mindset. On top of that I was groggy and irritable, which further damaged my focus.
As a result of this experience, I've gained a better understanding of what can foster that productivity mindset. I've decided to share a bit of my morning routine and why I feel it's important.
7 AM, Waking Up In the Morning...
I get up every day at 7:00. I'm not really a morning person at all, but it's important to get up early. It's tempting for those of us with a 15 second commute to sleep in, but I think it's good to get an early start on the day. Even if you don't start work earlier, getting the day started earlier gives you a chance to "boot up".
I use this time to make myself a cup of chai, some breakfast (usually a cranberry or pistachio muffin), and sit down and catch up with Twitter and RSS. What you do to wind up can really be anything, though I do highly suggest a breakfast of some kind. Walks are always great too, or some kind of morning workout. If you don't have time to do everything you feel you need to do, wake up earlier! If you're not properly energized, you won't be as productive as you could be.
Get to the Shower!
You work from home. You're probably not going to run into anybody on the way into work, you don't have any co-workers to complain about your foul stench. A good shower in the morning is refreshing, no doubt. But it's also yet another step to get you in the mindset for work. You feel clean, you feel good, and you're ready to take on the world!
It also gets you out of your PJs and into some real clothes. While it's tempting, and a sort of stereotypical image of the work-at-home crowd, PJs are not appropriate work attire. They put you in the mindset of relaxation or sleep, not work and focus. But don't dress like a slob, wearing clothes that are presentable make you feel good about yourself! Who doesn't want to feel like a star?!
So there you go. Basically, the TLDR version is to treat your freelancing like a "regular job" you'd go to every day. Don't be that person who rolls out of bed and over to the desk to start work. It's tempting and easy to just say "well who cares if I haven't had my coffee and I smell funny?" You should care, because feeling energized and good about yourself is a vital piece of being productive, and dressing for work puts you in the productivity mindset.