How to cope with not having a routine as a full time performer.

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How to cope with not having a routine as a full time performer.

I freelance, which basically means I can take time off when I want / need to. Although the reality of the situation is until recently I haven’t. Aside from Edinburgh I don’t not work because I need money and I’m not yet in a position where stand up can make up the lost money.

However, in the last year I have started to take a few weeks off here and there for comedy and other projects. This has resulted in my money dropping but I’ve felt it was a good move in the longterm (a prime example of this was starting the podcast… blowing nearly £500 on equipment in the hopes that in the long term it might make money. A secondary example was taking 2 months off to write the first draft of my 2nd book, which I hope will sell better than my 1st).

A lot of performers suffer when they go full time because they lack a routine, or structure in their life that the day job seems to provide. Having worked in and out of offices for 5 years I can tell you now this structure / routine is an illusion. The reason you think it’s there is because the start and end of your day are the same (much like when you’re doing new material and you start / close on strong jokes and the middle bit most people forget).

Look at an average day of work. I’m sure it changes, things get thrown at you and meetings over run. If every day was the same you’d never need to stay late, and you’d have a lunch hour rather than a lunch 10 minutes.

I started reading (and really need to finish) the book “Daily Rituals“. It looks at the first 30 minutes of a bunch of successful people in different fields from business to science to… well anything. And they all made the first part of their day a routine. Why? Because then when they got up it was all there, laid out for them. Your routine at the moment is probably go to the underground station, get the same train. You probably even know which door to get on which means you have the least amount of walking to do to get to the next train in your journey… 

The end of your day probably happens the same way as well. Maybe have a bath, or check the internet. We’re creatures of habit and the start / end of your day routines will help you jump start your day and help you get to sleep at night.

Now as for the bit in the middle of the day… make a list.

Lists focus your mind and help give you a sense of achievement – nothing feels better than crossing something off a list.

The key is not to bundle the list together into one. That gives everything equal weight and doesn’t help you make a priority order. What I do is draw a line down the middle of the page and on one side (usually the left) I put the top three things I HAVE to do today. These are the things I need to get done first. The right side are stuff I WANT to get done but aren’t as important. Usually after doing the left hand side I’ll put a number next to every task on the right hand list just so that I get a bit more structure and order to them.

I hope this helps… If you’ve got any tips on how to cope with not having a routine / structure in your creative life do write it below. Would be great to hear everyone else’s tips, hints and advice 🙂 

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Simon Caine is a comedian, author, podcaster, writer and social media manager. He's the host of the Ask The Industry Podcast (iTunes link) , writer of jokes for Twitter and teller of gags on the London comedy scene. He's also the person writing this and it is taking all his willpower not to make a "Simon Says" joke.
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