One of the reasons that many of us started our own businesses because we believe that our creativity and our potential are often restrained by the structure of the corporation. The challenge is that while we may be increasing our capacity to be creative, it’s very easy to decrease our capacity to be productive.
Here are some things you can do maintain your productivity.
#1. Pick a time/activity management system and stick to it. Everyone has their own opinions on the best system. If you work alone, you can use anything you want – but you have to have some method of scheduling tasks and appointments. Then you have to use it.
#. 2. Make a work schedule. Decide what hours you want to work over the course of a typical week. Write them down. “Work when you want” does not mean “Do everything else you must and want to do and work with whatever time you have leftover” Work 9 – 5; Split your hours into smaller segments to accommodate your personal and family needs; Work a graveyard shift – whatever works best for you. Stick to the schedule.
#3. Plan your next shift. At the end of a work shift, prepare a list of what you are going to do during the next shift. Write it down – put it on your desk in front of your computer keyboard. That way, when you sit down to work, you don’t have to spend any time making a shift plan – you can begin working immediately.
#4. Define roadblocks. Also at the end of your shift, do a quick mental analysis of whether or not, you accomplished everything you planned. If not, try to determine what the obstacles were. Write them down. Once a week or so, compare the list of obstacles from each shift. You may find a pattern that indicates a systemic issue that you can address.
#5. Get dressed. If the first part of your day is working at your desk, followed by an outside appointment. Shower, dress and be ready to go the appointment before you begin the work day. There is nothing more frustrating than having a 30 minute pop-up about the meeting and you realize that you aren’t ready to go.
#6. Cleanliness is next to profitability. Keep your desk as clean and neat as possible. If you’re like me and you are inherently a slob, your workspace can magically and rapidly evolve into a jungle. Don’t shoot for perfection and spend all your time cleaning – but maintain a space where you don’t feel overwhelmed by piles of paper.
#7. Use the buddy system. Find another solopreneur (someone you are comfortable with as a person) to chat with for a few minutes each week. Compare notes on how productive you’ve been. Mutually nag each other about deadlines and commitments.
#8. Take breaks. If your entire shift is going to be at your desk, make sure to set an official time in your shift to get up, do something non work-related. Do not eat at your desk. Take a walk, watch the news, read a magazine. It doesn’t matter what it is but you need about 15 minutes away at least every three or four hours.
#9. Get out! Take your work to another location at least once a week. Go to a coffee shop, library, park or somewhere that has wireless and do your stuff there. This reminds you that you are part of the world. It also can create new business opportunities for you.
#10. Set ground rules. If you have a family, it’s very easy to stop what you’re doing when your spouse or your kids get home from their jobs or school. Make sure that everyone in the family is supportive of you in the idea that you have a job and you have to do work during work hours.