In my most recent newsletter I wrote about the productivity issues I'm battling now that summer is here and the pool is calling my name. As such, it's a perfect time to share some of my favorite productivity hacks for solopreneurs in collaboration with the Office Depot. This is part of a sponsored post series I’m doing with Socialstars.
Want to join in the fun? Use the hashtag #GearLove.
If there is one thing I'd do over about my leap to full time self employment it's that I wish I'd made the transition during the colder months. I mean, look at what I was able to do by keeping my head down and staying indoors working extra hours (I paid off $8k in 90 days..#humblebrag) this past winter. I can't help but think that same wintertime focus would serve me well now that I'm a solopreneur and small business owner.
Instead, my newfound freedom came at a time when the weather couldn't be more gorgeous and all I want to do is go outside. Outside. Or stay inside during the heat of the day and take cool naps while drinking iced tea and binge watching Friends on Netflix.
Productivity is something all self-employed folks struggle with, but I bet money that it gets worse for everyone during the summer. Here are six tips I'm loving right now that help keep me on track.
6 Productivity Hacks for Solopreneurs
Set Office Hours..With Summer Fridays as a Reward
Now that I've been working for myself for about ten weeks, I'm getting into the groove of things. I know I'm busiest Monday-Wednesday, with Thursdays and Friday acting as catch up days for finishing up projects and following up with clients. I'm also getting into a groove where I work (roughly) 10-4 or 11-5 each day.
I haven't been able to take off a FULL Friday yet, but I generally stop working around noon on Fridays. 3:00 if I get a late start that morning. Having planned office hours helps keep me from getting stressed when my to-do list is overwhelming and long.
The 45 Minute Method
One of my great friends, Carrie, has a corporate job where everyone works remotely. She's been working from home for almost a year now and as such, serves as my home productivity sherpa. She gives me great advice when we meet for lunch!
One of the tips she gave me was to work in forty-five minute chunks, and then take a fifteen minute break afterward. This has proven really helpful since I have multiple clients. I work forty-five minutes for one, take a break, and then do forty-five minutes for another depending upon the day/work load.
The fifteen minutes are spent eating snacks, doing laundry, picking up here and there or taking Baby Roo for a walk.
Hire an Intern or Assistant
I hired an assistant (Hi Torie!) because I needed help scaling my business. It's hard to work alone, and having a little part time help never hurt anyone. As I've said before, I've never lost money investing in my business, and the work I've been able to outsource to Torie has enabled me to spend more time courting and signing clients for more work (something only I can do) and thinking about how to grow my blog and business.
Even if you are averse to spending money on help, summer is a great time as many students are looking for internships.
An assistant helps keep me more productive because a) she has office hours in my home and so now I have office hours too. b) She helps me be strategic with my time and focus my bandwidth on the most important, high level tasks while she focuses on the details. It's perfection.
Allow Your Mind to Wander
Everyone is different, but I'm also more productive the closer a deadline looms. (Or perhaps this just my high-falutin' way of saying I procrastinate..you decide. 😉 )
How much time do you waste sitting in front of a computer, knowing you have work to do, forcing yourself to do it, but instead you Facebook, pinterest, or read an article or two?
Instead of kicking yourself, allow your mind to wander. Take a break (as in my example above!) This will always take less time than sitting in a chair, struggling with yourself to force work.
Get Strategic with Your To- Do List
I break down my to-do list by what needs to be done by day for my blog/clients on the left, and then in the right is a running column of errands/emails to respond to that week that I'd like to get but are less timely.
Following Randi's advice in this Awkward Money Chat interview, I also dedicate Fridays to invoicing clients, answering non-deadline specific emails, and doing correspondence/filing (Bills, tax letters, etc.) so I don't have to worry with it during the week. Paperwork is my biggest pet peeve, so it is top priority for me to make sure I have a clean desk.
I'm also loving this summer productivity checklist by Office Depot, and the video they put out below.
Change Your Scenery
I've been leaning hard on the “coffee shop office” this summer as it gets me away from the distractions of the house. If ever you hear your outside lounge chair or hammock calling your name, change locales immediately. I'm always able to knock out significantly more work in a separate location.
Want more summertime productivity hacks and resources? Check out the Office Depot Business Solutions Center. I especially LOVE this “checklist” they put out for everyone headed out of the office this summer, whether on vacation, or a midday break :).