Being your own boss has its perks. You get to work whenever you want, wherever you want. You can take your work with your wherever you go. You can take holidays when you feel like having one. However, it also comes with enormous responsibilities and numerous tasks so it’s easy to burn out and become unproductive. It’s especially difficult to get tasks done every day if you work from home. It requires discipline to stay motivated and productive. Here are the top ten ways to do it.
- Set Goals
It is important to set your goals straight. What do you want to achieve six months from now? Three months from now? Today? Make a list of the tasks that you want done today and then write the steps on how you will achieve your bigger goals. Put this list somewhere you can always see it to keep you motivated.
- Treat it like a 9 to 5 job
Have a “work” mind set when you wake up. Remember those days when you had to get up early to go to the office? If you work at home, do the same things you did before. Get up, have some breakfast, shower and get out of your pajamas. Specify a room in the house as your office and be there exactly at 9 am and log out at 5 pm. This helps maintain balance in your life.
- Prioritize Income Activities
There are so many things to do when you are self-employed so it’s important to prioritize activities. Focus on the ones that will generate the most income for you. When you are done with those, you can attend to the ones that generate less. Stay away from tasks that do nothing to improve your cash flow.
- Stay Organized
A cluttered desk will also give you a cluttered mind. It’s always nice to work in a clean space so keep your home office tidy and neat. Buy desk organizers so that your things are not lying around. Organize documents and file them properly.
- Limit Email Checking
Never check your emails first thing in the morning. This will eat up your time. Set a specific time for checking emails such as 30 minutes before lunch time. Emails are a big distraction. Check emails to get a break from your work but be sure to stay within the allowed time such as 15 minutes then it’s back to work for you.
You can also arrange your inbox so that priority mails pop up first. You can check the others after work.
- Keep a Daily Log/Accountability Chart
By keeping a daily log, you’ll be able to see what tasks you are spending the most time on. You might be spending too much time on one area of your business while another one suffers. Maintain good balance in tackling assignments.
Keeping a daily log is important because studies show that your willpower will betray you. Everyone procrastinates on starting a big project from time-to-time because, well, it’s part of human nature. The human brain just loves to abandon projects which are not going well. Also, research shows that our willpower is a limited resource which means it can be used up. If you are self-employed, you need to get support from other people and sources because if you rely on your willpower alone, you will likely fail.
So, what do you do? Discipline yourself. Dieters who monitored their daily intake of food are far more successful than those who just “go with the flow.” This is where the accountability chart comes in. you can measure how much you are actually getting done during your work sessions. Combine this chart with the bonus tip below to maintain high energy levels and focus throughout your day.
According to researcher John Bargh, this accountability chart can improve productivity because it’s the best way to eliminate robotic behavior.
Remember – You want to maintain creativity throughout the day and you can only do that if you take scheduled breaks.
- Keep busy
As a self-employed person, there is always something to be done. When you don’t have a major task or deadline, you can explore your marketing options, improve your website, watch webinars, read, etc. The last thing you want to be doing is sitting on the couch all day and watching television.
- Have a break as often as you need
It can be quite stressful to run your own business so make sure you take breaks throughout the day. You can watch TV for a few minutes or have a cup of tea. You can take a walk in the park. You can exercise too. It not only helps you get your mind off your work but exercise also keeps your brain in top shape. You will be able to solve problems better. Exercise helps you feel refreshed and ready to tackle anything.
- Invest in quality equipment and furniture
Nothing is more frustrating than faulty equipment especially when you are on a deadline. You don’t want your printer to be jamming or your photocopier leaking toner everywhere. On the other hand, you want a comfortable chair that supports your back, a good size table that can accommodate all your work stuff, etc. Invest in furniture and equipment that will keep you healthy, sane and will make your work easy.
- Forget about multitasking
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your daily list of tasks so your solution might be to multitask. A lot of people claim to be experts at multitasking but really, there are no convincing evidences. A study was done on average people who multitask. They found out that the ones who multitask are far less likely to be more productive than those who focused on a single task. However, the multitaskers felt more emotionally satisfied with their work because they create an illusion of productivity by working on several things at once. In reality, they were not able to do a single task well.
Stanford University also did a study on the productive output of multitaskers and they found out that people who multitasked were terrible at filtering unneeded information, switching between tasks and maintaining a high working memory.
Remember – Do the single most important thing on your list!
Bonus Tip – Work like a world-class expert
Did you know that the best musicians don’t spend all their time practicing? They don’t spend the whole day and night practicing. They actually get good sleep. What they do is something called “deliberate practice” to better manage their productive energy. They segment their practice sessions into strict blocks of time.
According to several studies, this technique is effective because it boosts the focus and alertness of the individual with the utilization of short breaks. This means that you should have lengthy productive sessions, around 90 minutes and follow it up by a planned break of 15 to 20 minutes.
Remember – It’s not the number of hours you spend on a task that determines the value you generate. It’s the energy you bring to the hours you work.
Try these tips and you will surely better manage your time as a self-employed person. You will also increase your productivity and stay motivated every single day.