How to Have a Strong Start to Your Workday

February 13, 2023

white text on purple watercolor background with a photo of Rochelle, a Fililpino woman, talking into a microphone. Text says "A Strong Start To Your Workday" and Compassionate Side Hustle Strategy


Need to infuse a little more energy and inspiration into the limited time you have to work on your business?

Listen in! In this episode I run through several options that you can add to your morning routine (or for you night owls like me — your strong start routine) to breathe new life into the important work you’re doing.

From journaling to audio affirmations and non-caffeinated remedies, this episode should spark a few new ideas for you! Entrepreneurs need to practice good self care, so make sure you’re setting yourself up for success by curating a personalized and empowering vibe for your work day.

Full Audio Transcript

Whatever your strategy is, you set the intention to stick to it by focusing on just one pieces of it for today. So, to clarify, I never, ever put the word “Marketing” in my intentions for the day. Because that’s too broad and doesn’t really help me focus… in fact, it may even do the opposite and make me overthink my marketing plan and then start changing stuff and dabbling and brainstorming.

This is Compassionate Side Hustle Strategy, hosted by me, Rochelle Sanchez. I help solopreneurs like you build good habits and compassionate systems that allow you to show up consistently and authentically in your business.

The end goal is to help you onboard a virtual assistant who is 100% aligned with your mission and within your budget, but there are a few things you should probably get in place first, right? That's why we're here.

You deserve to do what you love for a living. And I believe that you're closer than you think. So clear your schedule and let's get to work on the next best step for you on your business journey.

Hi, friends! Today I’m going to be giving you an example of a workflow for starting your work day off on the right foot. Obviously this is going to be different for everyone, and I also acknowledge that what works for me may not work for you because I don’t have kids or a typical day job.

My hope is that by sharing what I typically do — or rather, the variations of what I do, because I hate routine, even when it’s my own, of my own design — I hope that you’re able to take some of these pieces of my workflow and try them out for yourself and also fill in the blanks so that you find this process helpful.

The last thing we need is “more stuff” for you to feel obligated to do.

So give yourself permission to be selfish and self-centered because that’s the only way you’ll figure out how what kind of starting routine works best for you and your biology and your circumstances.

You may or may not know this about me, but I’m definitely a night owl, although I really need the sun for my mental health so this winter has been… challenging.

But as a night owl, I tend to not actually start my work day, meaning working on my business, until much later in the day. I sleep in, I take at least 1 1/2 hours to get ready to work on my business (from waking to actually sitting at my office desk), and most days, that puts my start-of-work-day in the afternoon.

Calling it a “morning routine” for me just isn’t accurate, and it actually makes me feel kinda bad because in the entrepreneur world, it’s kind of like thin privilege, almost? It’s so common to hear about the most successful people waking up at 5am and how it changed their lives, and we have that, you know, trope of lazy people sleeping in, or how working late at night means you’re irresponsible or whatever.

Well, I personally don’t wake up at 5am but I have changed my own life by intentionally giving myself what I call a “Strong Start.” Not a morning routine, but a “strong start” to whatever my work is for the day.

However, when I talk about with other people, (and obviously when I don’t have the floor to explain all my tiny little details like I do here, on my own podcast) I go ahead and call it a morning routine.

In fact, I playfully call it my "excessive morning routine.”

And that’s because I've learned that I actually dislike routine a LOT. Again, not super great as an entrepreneur in our industry where daily habits and daily routines are pushed, and if you don’t do something every day and draw an X on your calendar for however many days in a row, then you’re not as good as that one white dude who swears by it.

But being someone who hates routine and also doesn’t live in a 24 hour cycle because I have a menstrual cycle, I like having lots of options to pick and choose from.

My strong start routine is a mish-mash of different things.

So you have the…

Affirmation Slide Show

I have a digital slideshow of affirmations that I say out loud and try to feel in my body. It’s cool because it’s a widget on my home screen that looks like a pile of cards, so I have to slide my finger to flip to the next one. I say each one out loud and try to feel it somewhere in my body. It doesn’t always work, but I have a lot of them in there so I just move on to the next affirmation if I need to. I made them by just looking up affirmations, and then I used Canva and made square graphics and put one affirmation per square. I think I’ve got a digital pile of 39 affirmations, last time I checked. So there are a bunch. Saying them out loud is helpful, too, even if I’m just saying them softly to myself.

The reason why I do affirmations is because I personally struggle with feeling good enough to do what I do in my business. It’s silly and unnecessary, but I know that it’s a struggle I have. So if I just jump right in without being affirmed, I tend to get into employee mode and I don’t quite have that “empowered” vibe when I’m sitting at my desk. Plus it’s a good vocal warm-up because I’m saying positive phrases and actually using my voice.

The Five Minute Journal

I use the five minute journal by the company, Intelligent Change. I know there are lots of variations of it but I think this is the original one and I like the prompts that it has. They’re a little pricey, though, like around $30 dollars, so I got mine at a discount on eBay. Honestly you could easily just use any journal and answer the same prompts every day, but I’m glad I have this one because it does have some educational material in the beginning, and it has weekly challenges spaced every 7 days and that’s pretty cool. It also has inspirational quotes on each page, one per day (which, take them or leave them, really. I wouldn’t say they’re super special or particularly well-curated). But the real guts of the book are what I think matters.

So each page has you writing down three things you’re grateful for, three things that would make today great, and a place to put a daily affirmation. That’s for the morning. And then on each page at the bottom is a night time section where it tells you to list 3 Amazing Things that happened today, and then one answer to the question of “How could I have made today even better?”

They explain why this combination of prompts works so well in the beginning of the book, but I’ll just say that it feels pretty well rounded.

It a gratitude process, an intention setting process, and affirmation in just a couple minutes at the beginning of your day. The affirmation part is fun for me personally because it’s like a scheduled but still unexpected pop quiz for me to remember one of the affirmations I said that morning.

And the part that asks “What would make today great?” I’ll bring up again later on.

But overall, I don’t know, I like the 5 minute journal by Intelligent Change. it just works for me.

Free Writing

Some days when I have a lot on my mind or if I wake up significantly anxious, I do free writing in a journal, a la "The Artist's Way," just to see if there are some thoughts buried in my brain that I'm not aware of. If you’re not familiar with The Artist’s Way, I recommend it even if you don’t necessarily consider yourself an artist. It’s a whole book and process and there are tons of resources on it, but the journaling part of it is that you have to write three full pages of free flowing thought.

And the idea is to get it all out of you so you can see it. Freewriting really helped me through some dark depression days because I’d end up writing things and basically fessing up to myself on thoughts that were in my head but never really got a chance to come out.

I don’t know exactly how to describe this, but if I feel like my body is just too full of thoughts and information, then I know that I need to take the 30 minutes or so to really write out all the words and put them on paper.

I’m also not much of a crier, which is not great because sometimes I need to cry and I just can’t, so if it’s super… if it’s a super emotional morning then I can usually get it down and then cry about it if it’s really bugging me. That might be specific to me, though, because I used to cry a lot as a kid and then I got in trouble for it, and the only way I was really able to be super emotional and feel things was when I was writing in my diary.

But I just suggest giving it a try! You can go grab The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron from your library and see how it works.

I don’t follow the process but I like to give credit to that book because that’s how I figured out that I need this kind of hand writing exercise sometimes.

The next part is…

Food, coffee, and sunlight

At this point in my process I’m usually making coffee at home. I bring my stack of journals downstairs and sit in my living room to do all the writing I’ve been sharing with you. Breakfast happens either before or during my routine, but I pay extra attention to what I need while I’m putting my meal together.

For example, sometimes my family is watching a movie on HBO or something, so sitting in my chair in the living room and hearing screaming or gunshots on the screen doesn’t usually work that well for me. If that’s the case then I take my food, coffee, and pile of notebooks and find somewhere quiet.

I’m actually looking forward to making sitting outside in our yard a regular part of my strong start routine. I’ve done a good job of furnishing our back yard and making it feel homey, so when the weather warms up I’ll start journaling outside in the fresh air.

Up next is…

Audio Inspiration

On some days when I need a more passive "me" time, especially when I just don’t feel like writing things out in freewriting style I like to listen to audio affirmations.

This probably won’t work for you if you hate the sound of your voice, although I do recommend you get used to or start enjoying the sound of yourself speaking because that’s just part of modern entrepreneurship and marketing nowadays.

We have to do videos, interviews, voice overs for short form video. So that’s a side note, but the sooner you can make peace with your own voice and start appreciating it, the better. Same with your physical appearance, but I’m getting off topic.

So the audio affirmations are similar to my phone affirmations, but they’re also kind of like an audio vision board.

I wrote out a bunch of positive, present tense statements of what I wanted my life to be like or what I wanted for myself. Nothing too crazy, but things like, “I wear graphic tees and wear activewear pants every day.”

That one was from back when I had a day job and couldn’t wear what I wanted to wear. Or I have another one where I say, “I find it easy and fun to make friends,” and another one that says, “My family shows that they love me in lots of different ways.”

And these are audio affirmations that I recorded for myself in my private Voxer notes. That’s the name of the app, V-O-X-E-R. It’s actually used for sending audio notes to your contacts, like audio text messages, but there’s a part where you can basically record audio notes for yourself.

I like it because when you play them, then it moves on to the next file automatically. So I’ll have a few 1-minute clips of me saying a handful of affirmations, and all I had to do (for example, when I was on my breaks at my day job and going for a walk) all I would do was I’d scroll up to 7 voices notes ago and hit play and all of the 1-minute notes would play right after each other.

Really handy, and the app is free, too, unless you pay for the pro version.

I don’t use the audio affirmations as much anymore, again, because I don’t have a typical day job or commute or have to take 10 minute breaks from anymore. But occasionally I’ll listen to them if I just don’t feel like doing the labor of journaling and digging up all my deep thoughts and emotions.

The next piece is…

Motivational Podcasts

And finally, if I need an extra push, I’ll listen to an entrepreneur-themed podcast episode. I don't come from an entrepreneurial background, so listening to a podcast or a specific episode that I know tends to pump me up or inspire me is a great way to get into the self-employed spirit and to feel like I’m not just the weirdo in the family who can’t keep a day job.

I’m easily affected by audio formats, hence the audio affirmations and the podcast listening, but it might work better for you to sit and read an inspirational biography or a book about an entrepreneur topic that you find interesting and relevant to the work you’re doing.

For me it’s basically just a way to get myself immersed in a multi-media world that matches the one I want to live in, versus being like, “Ugh I live in a suburb next to a high way and somehow I have to sell things to my email list.”

It’s curating your environment, and that includes the one in your head.

Setting Priorities & Following Strategy

(is the next part, and this is the last piece, too)

So those are all the components. As for focusing on the right things, I have my own system for all the pieces of my business and all my plans and which things come first and what waits until later. But at the start of the work day, I tend to set an intention for myself on what needs to be worked on. Most days I’m already aware of it and I had written it down in my 5 minute journal, because remember it has the section that says “What would make today great?”

But sometimes what goes in those 3 lines in my 5 minute journal are more personal things. Like when I was coming out of a really deep, dark depression, one of my three things under “What would make today great?” was almost always related to just, “Keeping my spirits up.” I would write keeping my spirits… or staying cheerful. Or taking a shower. Because any journaling process really is just a matter of meeting yourself wherever you are, on the outside and the inside.

So when I’m setting intentions and following a strategy for my business, specifically, I actually set another intention for myself.

There’s a part of my planner that’s specifically designated for intentions or priorities for that work day. So today, at the time that I wrote this script, my intention was to work on my podcast.

It’s pretty general in my journal, but I know that working on my podcast means opening up my app, clicking over to my podcast production area, and pulling up the next topic, and then setting a timer for 50 minutes for straight writing.

And of course the actual writing of the podcast script is for a specific topic I pre-planned, and when it’s done and ready to record, I have specific parts of this script that will be used for Instagram content, or email newsletter content.

So whatever your strategy is, you set the intention to stick to it by focusing on just one piece of it for today.

So, to clarify, I never, ever put the word “Marketing” in my intentions for the day. Because that’s too broad and doesn’t really help me focus… in fact, it may even do the opposite and make me overthink my marketing plan and then start changing stuff and dabbling and brainstorming again.

I mean, dabbling and experimenting and brainstorming are great! But not if I really have to have a written podcast script, have it done this week so I can record it and then send it off to my virtual assistant, you know?

So it’s a matter of prioritizing and giving yourself a task to get finished or at least clock a significant amount of time or energy toward.

And finally, let’s…


I went through all the component choices I give myself to have a strong start to my work day. They were:

  1. Affirmation slideshow on my phone

  2. 5 Minute Journal by Intelligent Change

  3. Free Writing in the style of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

  4. Food, Coffee, and Sunlight

  5. Audio Affirmations recorded in my own voice in Voxer

  6. Motivational Podcasts related to the work I’m doing, and finally:

  7. Setting Top Priorities in my planner according to my business strategy

As I mentioned, it can feel a little excessive, even to me. There was a point a few years ago where I took me a couple hours to get through everything. As I’m sharing this, it almost feels like I should add some mirror work in there, somewhere, but that’s honestly all I have for you today as what I do right now to get my business work day off to a strong start.

This is obviously very different from when I had a day job, when I’d sometimes do business related stuff on my lunch break from my car and whatnot. I can share about that sometime in the future if you’re interested.

Send me a DM on Instagram letting me know you listened to this and your biggest takeaways, okay?

Remember, you deserve to do what you love for a living, I’m rooting for you, and I’ll see you next week.

Compassionate Side Hustle Strategy is sponsored by Gentle Momentum.

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To learn more, visit Rochelle Sanchez dot com and click on the "Work with me" button.

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