The Importance of Structure

sunrise over the Vancouver seawall.

I’ve been self-employed for just over a year, and in the beginning I really struggled to stay productive. But I found the secret: “be your own boss” should be taken literally; set expectations for yourself that a boss would expect.

This is what worked for me:

My days start at 8am. I block out time for walks, lunch, deep focus tasks, journalling… I’m not micro-managing my day or going into 5-minute increments, I’m just giving myself a light framework around my average workday.

This light structure was enough of a kick in the butt for me to fix my sleep schedule, start and end my days at a regular time, maintain a healthy level of productivity throughout the day, and crucially: all while maintain a work-life balance.

But it’s also not a prison. There are days where I needed 20 extra minutes, or took an early lunch to meet a friend… This is the goal with light structure — enough to give you stability, but not so much that you are suffocated by your calendar.

So, self-employed or not, if you find yourself feeling lost or distracted, or working all hours of the day, try adding a bit of structure. Hold yourself accountable to yourself.