Working for yourself is sometimes very challenging compared to working for someone else. You are your own boss, so you need that extra pinch (or truckload!) of self-motivation, structure and drive to make sure you succeed!
…You turned up early.
…You sometimes stayed late.
…You often worked through lunch.
…You demonstrated passion and commitment to the organization and its success.
And all for no extra pay.
Now that you are an entrepreneur and ‘self-employed’, are you as committed, passionate and hardworking?
That’s the challenge. Because working for yourself means you can be as flexible as you like! Awesome – right! But also dangerous. It’s easier to procrastinate, to postpone deadlines, to reschedule your time and lose hours on ‘distractions’ such as social media, coffee dates and the internet.
Here are a few of my top tips to get a handle on how you spend your time in order to increase your productivity.
- Schedule everything: my mantra on this is “if it’s not in the diary, it doesn’t exist”. That sounds harsh, I know, but for me, it absolutely works. Firstly, it means I never forget anything. And secondly, it means I can see at a glance just how much time I am spending on the business, fun, family etc., and how much time I have available for new projects.
- Apply the 4 D’s: Do it now, Delegate it, Dump it, Do it later. We waste so much time thinking about things, deliberating and contemplating them, and revisiting them many times before we actually take action. The 4 D’s allows you to make a decision on something quickly and then move on. You’re either doing it now, getting rid of it, scheduling time to do it later, or delegating it to someone else. Either way, you have made a decision, and don’t need to revisit it repeatedly before you take action.
- Take control of email: Adopt a Touch It Once policy. I apply the 4 D’s principle with email too in order to make the best use of the Touch It Once policy. Do it now if you can and its quick, delegate it to someone else straight away, delete it immediately or schedule time to do it later. The second key point with email is to schedule email time into your day. Most of us are far to accessible in terms of email these days. We have it on our phones, on our laptops, pc’s and tablets. It’s always on, and as a result we feel compelled to check it every few mins. STOP! It’s a terrible habit, and the biggest distraction when it comes to productivity. Better to schedule time at regular intervals during the day to deal with email, and learn to leave it at that. For example, I check email in the morning first thing (although some theories disagree with this – find what works for you), again at around 11, again at about 2.30 and last thing before I sign off for the day. That way I can close down my work time and move into the down time with an easy mind.
- Review your goals daily and prioritize tasks accordingly: Studies have shown that people who write their goals down and hold themselves accountable to them, are 33% more successful in achieving them. So with that in mind, make sure you have written your goals clearly, somewhere you can check in on them every day and then prioritize all of your tasks accordingly. One of the problems with being an entrepreneur is that you can get sidetracked or lose track of what you are trying to achieve. If you check in with your goals regularly, and make sure your priorities are in line with them, then you are more likely to stay on target.
- Always schedule ‘Me’ time: Being an entrepreneur means you can be as flexible as you like with your schedule. But, the flipside of that, is that you potentially end up working excessively on your business and forget to schedule the essential ‘fun’ time, ‘me’ time and ‘family’ time. A tip for staying on top of this is to colour co-ordinate your diary items, so you can see at a glance the amount of time you have scheduled for the non-business activities, and can identify very quickly when things start to look a little out of whack.
- Turn up on time for everything you have scheduled: this one is about sticking to self-made commitments. Yes, you have flexibility, but don’t let that translate into you being far to easy on yourself and allowing the priorities to be rescheduled or postponed too often. Turn up for work every day at the scheduled time, and commit to making it productive while you are there.
As Jim Rohn says:
“Either you run the day or the day runs you”
Choose to run your day, every day!
Got any further tips you’d like to add? Fab! Share them in the comments below.