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Opinions expressed by contributors are their own. The following excerpt is from Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers, out September 22 via Entrepreneur Press. Pre-order now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | IndieBound.
Whether you leave a day job to dive into starting a business full time or dip a toe into a side gig, you’ll need to become a master of productivity. Here are some essential tips here that will help you establish good work habits and achieve a lot more for your business in less time, resulting in more profit-making potential for your solopreneur venture.
This rule is an incredibly powerful way to get small tasks off your plate so you can focus on bigger ones. The idea is to complete any task or chore if you can do it in less than three minutes.
It could be related to your work or home life, such as sending an email, putting clothes in the washer, cleaning your desk, or filing something. Apply this rule to any task that needs to be done — or that’s distracting you from your work. If it would take you less than three minutes to complete, do it now.
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When there’s a more significant task or project on your plate, but you’re procrastinating for whatever reason, tell yourself just to give it 10 minutes. If you’re like me, you probably tend to avoid tasks that you think will be complex, take a long time, or you just don’t like doing.
While you might not complete a big task in 10 minutes, beginning it usually unlocks your ability to maintain momentum and get it done. Maybe you’ve heard the proverb, “Well begun is half done.” That’s productivity gold! Simply getting started on a project — especially one you’re dreading for some reason — makes it so much easier to keep going.
While everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day, the quality of those hours varies considerably. Your energy level throughout the day depends on many factors, including your sleep and wake cycles, known as your circadian rhythm.
Pay attention to your body and notice when you’re tired and when you’re most alert and thinking clearly. You might notice that you have a dip in energy at the same time every day. Whenever you’re most alert is when you should be working on what you value most. If that’s your budding business, carve out that slice of time to focus on it.
Speaking of scheduling, that’s another critical way to get more done. Schedule everything in your paper or digital calendar. When you have your entire day mapped out, it’s easier to stay on track and avoid distractions.
I even put taking a shower, cleaning out my junk mail inbox and engaging on social media in my digital calendar. For me, if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. To make scheduling easier, you can use the repeat function to set up any recurring tasks that you don’t want to forget.
The most effective way to boost your productivity is to delegate or outsource tasks that someone else can easily do. For example, I have a virtual assistant who helps me with communication, graphic design and social media outreach. My goal is to focus on the core business tasks that I do best and enjoy.
Letting go of tasks isn’t easy, and it may make you uncomfortable. If you’re a control freak, like me, you probably believe that no one else can complete a task as well as you. And you may be right. So begin delegating slowly. Also remember that in many cases, getting low-value tasks done quickly, but not always perfectly, is better than having them pile up on your plate. Plus, outsourcing creates opportunities for your fellow business owners.
Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s law? It’s one of my favorite adages because it’s so true. British naval historian and writer Cyril Northcote Parkinson wrote in 1955, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
Consider making it your computer screensaver or putting it on sticky notes where you work. It’s a great reminder to stop keeping yourself busy with low-value tasks and start doing work that matters.
Related: 5 Tools to Help Solopreneurs Get More Done Every Day
These tips can help you balance your day job with your side business or your new solopreneur venture as you scale up to full speed. The solopreneur life is a great one. You just have to learn how to harness the power of productivity!