This month we’ve been talking about trends and inspiration, and one big trend in small business is increasing productivity. So today we have a guest post on that topic from Danny Carlson, a business owner who works primarily online and writes about financial topics including entrepreneurship, money/time management, and productivity.
If you recently started a small business, congratulations. You’re already well on your way to enjoying the benefits of entrepreneurship. If you’re going the “solopreneur” route, your chances of success are that much better because your support costs are greatly reduced. However, if you’re “the guy” in your venture, you’re going to have a lot of hard work in front of you. Little distractions in any business can be dangerous, but for a one-person company, wasting valuable time can put undue stress on your venture. Read on for the best ways solopreneurs can get the most out of every day.
1. Start Off on the Right Foot Each Day
Since you’re entirely on your own, it’s important to perform at a high level every day you work. Start each day off by writing out exactly what you want to get done. Electronic calendars and mobile apps are good for this, but there are times when you need to make an old-fashioned list, and this is one of them. Craft your schedule, don’t overload yourself, and if you don’t get to something at the bottom of your list, don’t freak out. Just make it part of tomorrow’s to-dos.
2. Set Goals Throughout the Day
While you don’t want to micromanage yourself to death, setting goals throughout the day can help save time. Plan to have your emails checked by 9am, know what you want to get done before lunch, and decide what you can complete during your afternoon. This is not meant to overly stress you out with too many deadlines, but managing your day is just as important as managing your week or month.
3. Add a Cushion for Major Projects
For any of the more involved projects you take on, creating a deadline is important, but adding in a cushion is key as well. For example, if you absolutely must get a proposal sent off to another business by the 23rd, make your deadline the 22nd. Things can change at a moment’s notice in your small business, and as a solopreneur you won’t have anyone around for assistance on last-minute items.
4. Go Green
Eliminating paper from your work life is another way to save time. You won’t spend as much time filing, and your desk is going to be cleaner and more organized. Switch to online banking statements and e-bills, and opt out of mailing lists to cut down on the amount of paper documents in your life. To get your name taken off mailing lists, go to the website StopTheJunkMail.
5. Organize Your Personal Life
Cook and exercise at scheduled points in the day. Plan out your down time. Even if you set aside one hour for TV time, figure out when that might be. Creating a structure is just as important for your non-business-related activities as it is for your venture.
6. Take Adequate Breaks
You might think this is counterproductive, but make sure you’re taking adequate breaks throughout your day. I know of few people who can actually perform at full capacity from sunup to sundown, and trying to do so can only hurt your business. Figure out the most opportune times to step away throughout the day and clear your mind of your business for a bit.
7. Unplug at Least Once a Day
Whether it’s over your lunch break or at the end of the night, it’s essential that you unplug and get away from the stresses of the electronic devices in your arsenal. Don’t worry, very few things can happen by turning off that smartphone and logging off the Internet for an hour or so each day. It’s all going to be waiting for you when you get back.
I recently jumped into full-time entrepreneurship and I was going it alone as well. Unfortunately, in the beginning I had no time management plan at all and my work suffered greatly. I didn’t take enough breaks, I gained a bunch of weight, and I was actually less productive than when I worked a traditional day job simultaneously with my venture. Don’t end up like that. Time management is serious business, especially if you’re wearing all the hats, so put it front and center until you get it right. Once your business is fully up and running and you’re bringing in more dough, you’re going to be glad you did.
What time management tips do you have for solopreneurs?