Is your biggest struggle as a solopreneur finding time to do it all? Guess what, that’s your fault. Yes, I’m blaming you. Am I saying you are not busy? Nope, I have no doubt in my mind you are. What I’m saying, is that you might not be working to your potential. Half the struggle is you. There is no magic pill, you have to do the work. But do me a favor…
Don’t overload your plate (productivity is not writing down 20 tasks, knowing there is no way to finish those 20 tasks, and then having a melt down because you aren’t productive). Productivity is working in a strategic and purposeful manner, to complete tasks in the timeframe they need to be completed in and not wasting time in unintentional or useless ways.
You have to figure out what your magic formula is. Below are three techniques that may help you find YOUR magic formula.
Good For: dreaded tasks, if you have problems sitting down and starting, lack of focus
- Pick a task
- Do it for 25 minutes (only that task)
- Break for 5 minutes
- Repeat (same or new task)
- Do up to 4 times and then break for at least 20 to 30 minutes
- Use your phone timer, use an app, use a physical timer
You must have the task chosen before starting, and a task is not write a blog post. It should be write a blog post on TOPIC XYZ. Or it could be brainstorm topics for blog post, or research topic for blog post, or create graphic for blog post. FOCUS is the key to this technique. This technique is most beneficial when you have picked a specific task. So instead of social media, it would be engage on Facebook with Group 1 and Group 2.
Variation: start with the basic technique, but then play with what might work best for you. Maybe you work for 45 minutes with an 15 minute break, maybe you focus for two hours broken into 30-minute blocks with 10-minute breaks. Start with the basic technique but if it doesn’t work, play around with it.
Good For: recurring items that can be set and done.
Tasks you might consider for batching: Social Media Scheduling, Blog Post Writing, Creating Graphics
- Choose the task
- Gather supplies/materials/information
- Clear all else out of your way, close programs you don’t need, etc
- Go at it 🙂
The basic idea is you sit down and focus on just one type of task. The concept of batching comes from the idea, you get more done if you are not switching between tasks. Think of the production line, each worker only focuses on that one task, batching is similar. You don’t have to open and close new programs/tools, gather materials, or get distracted by new tasks. Everything you need to work is open and prepared, ready to get started.
Have what you need ready to go. Example: If you are batching graphics, know what titles you are batching, what sized graphics you are batching, and what you need to save each as.
Don’t try out batching on a task you dread, try with a task you enjoy first.
- Having set days you focus on similar tasks
- Retreat Days
- One or two hours of batching or a half day of batching (play with the length)
Schedule & Track Your Day
Good For: tackling being unmotivated, decision fatigue, and overwhelm
Sit down and schedule out your day. Part of the problem with keeping up motivation is that you get decision fatigue. Having to figure out what to do hour to hour is much harder than just sitting down and working on what is in front of you. You waste time on deciding or searching for your next task. Planning saves you time because you know exactly what to work on next.
- The night before, schedule out the next day.
- Go to your calendar or planner. Want a printable day schedule?
- Write down all appointments (items that have a set time to do, might be calls, webinars, dropping the kids off, etc.)
- Write in personal time, shower, exercise, walking the dog, lunch
- Pick 2-3 task with want to focus on for that day. It might be writing a blog post, recording a video, batching some graphics, planning a new course, creating inventory. You might employ the Pomodoro technique or Batching technique to these tasks.
- Fill in other duties, social media engagement, checking and responding to emails, etc.
- At the end of each task write yourself a small note on what you did, or use an app to track your time.
Time Tracking: track for a month how you are using your time. This helps you identify patterns and energy levels. You can track time with an app, on paper, or a spreadsheet. Read this post to find out how to get started tracking your time.
If it just feels too structured, maybe try it just for a few days a week, or morning.
I like to lay out my major projects the week before, so that I know what my focus is for next week. Scheduling allows you to be more strategic as opposed to reactionary.
All three of these techniques can work together. You can use the Pomodoro technique even when you batch, to keep your mind fresh. You certainly should know what your task is before you start your 25 minutes, so that is where scheduling comes in. Tracking can help you know when you are most productive and have more energy for certain tasks. It all fits together, but you have to figure out what will work best for you. Start slow, you can try out a technique for a week or two and then try a new one.
Doing The Work
I’ve written about this before, and will continue to write about this, but bottom line is that you have to figure out what works best of you. You have to be honest with yourself and have some discipline when it comes to trying it out. You can’t try one session of the Pomodoro technique and say oh it’s not for me. Try it for a week. Try it only on certain tasks. Try it just for your mornings or just for your afternoon. Same with batching and scheduling. Maybe you schedule out every day but Friday, because having too much of a schedule stresses you out. Maybe you use Friday to catch up on things that didn’t get done the other 4 days of the week. Maybe trying to write more than one blog post at a time is too much, but you use the batch method for creating graphics. I know that I can’t sit down in one whole day and write out all my blog posts, I might be able to do research and brainstorm topics but to sit down and write them all out, not so much. I’ve tried it and I come away from the day, feeling stressed, and having spent a lot of time staring at a blank word document.
A key part of running a successful business is how you are able to manage yourself and your day. Figuring out what to do is the easy part, there are so many resources on how to sale and how to do xyz, but if you can’t sit down and put these strategies in place, then they are worthless. How many classes have you bought and now found time to implement the strategies? Being consistent in strategies is important too, and guess what, again it comes down to you sitting down and getting the work done.
Your business cannot be run with a, I’ll do whatever I “want” day to day approach. You must find how to make yourself be consistent and work in a productive/strategic manner. This is hard, I’m not sitting here behind the keyboard saying I have it figured out. I still struggle with this, I have good months and good weeks, and then I find myself losing the discipline. On a regular basis, I have to reset my techniques and routines, I know certain method works, but I have to tell myself to do it. Being a solopreneur is probably one of the hardest things you do, because it ALL depends on you. It brings up a ton of doubts and fears, which impacts your productivity and keeping yourself on track. Don’t forget to reset yourself, don’t let a bad day or week upset your routine. Pick yourself up and get back to doing the methods that work for you.
It’s not all about being the most productive either, it’s about getting shit done. You have to know what works for your creative process. Nothing is productive if you are sitting there worrying about being productive. If you are working on a blog post and you have another idea that has taken hold of you, pause and go type out that other idea, get it out of your head, and then reset. Forcing yourself to the point of inactivity or obsessing on focus is counterintuitive. Finding distractions or allowing distractions in, is far different than working within your creative process. Learn the difference and figure out how to manage your time and your business.
What do you do to keep your business on track and manage your days?