More than ever, time has become our most precious commodity. So many professions now don't rely on punching in on a clock-- it's not about how much you're working, it's how much you're producing. Because we all know that busy ≠ productive. In a world where distractions are aplenty, it's really difficult to really utilize your time to the max. We all would love to nail how to be more productive, but working as a small business owner or freelancer can bring unique challenges since you have to be your own boss, secretary, and worker all by yourself.
Working remotely from home also can make it tempting to run an unstructured day, but this leads to an unhealthy work-life balance because you're just working around the clock with no one to regulate your schedule. But then making things too structured can make a job that needs to be flexible (since meetings and creative work never go according to schedule when working with bigger teams) very tough too.
Trust me, I've been there and still struggle with this through varying phases of my schedule changing. But through these experiences, I've been able to narrow down the best strategies to be more productive as an entrepreneur, freelancer, and a blogger.
Here are the strategies and tricks I've found to help me become a much more efficient worker in all my roles:
1. Lay All Your Ducks Out to Divide + Conquer
As entrepreneurs, freelancers, or bloggers, chances are that you wear multiple hats. Just the blogging + freelancing portion of my job entails:
Styling + Photography
Writing- Blog Posts, Articles, Recipes
Admin- Accounting, Invoicing
Strategy- New Opportunities, Content Calendars
Social Media - Posting, Responses, keeping up with feeds
The way I've learned to organize my tasks take inspiration from my college schedule. I didn't have the same schedule every single day, because a class would be on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then another class on Mondays and Wednesdays. This was smart because you get to dedicate your focus to concentrating on the select topics for that day, then move on to the next, rather than trying to do everything, everyday.
So for Mondays, I try to save for creative work like writing, then initiative taking, like outreach and strategizing for the weeks ahead. Then depending on my training schedule, I'll take the following day to dedicate to styling and shooting for my freelance clients, as well as my blog, along with tackling chunks of emails. The next day, perhaps photo editing, along with some admin stuff. Each day, I slot aside some time to stay on top of my social media and emails.
2. Make Mondays your most productive day.
You know how they say a majority of the President's initiatives are tackled in the first 100 days? Think of Monday as your first 100 days. Mondays are your proactive day to create and produce- save the meetings, mass tackling of emails, and reactive tasks for the other 4 days of the week.
Have you ever noticed that reactive tasks like emails take up not only more time than you realize, but also sap that mental energy to focus? After coming off of the weekend, you're likely more refreshed and ready for more stimulating mental tasks than any other time, so Monday morning is when you want to tackle the bigger tasks.
3. Follow Your Gut When Inspiration Strikes.
If you are in the middle of your designated admin time, but suddenly feel the urge to start shooting or writing, go with it.
Inspiration and ideas aren't always easy to come by, so sometimes you have to go with the flow! If it is imperative that you do stay on schedule though, make sure to, what I call, "brain barf," and jot down in shorthand all the thoughts and ideas in your head on your Notes app on your phone or as a drafted blog post to come back to later.
4. Use Technology to Your Advantage.
For self-employed folk, our phones are our lifelines of sorts. But it also carries the potential to be majorly distracting. You innocently open up Instagram and then oops, 20 minutes go by and...you're still on Instagram.
Instead of letting your phone distract, you, utilize and see it as a tool during business hours instead. I like to either set alarms on my phone to remind me when to transition modes or move onto the next thing, or put them into my calendar.
5. Work Smarter NOT Harder.
Once you have all the above set up, you should already be working more efficiently. However, a big thing that us entrepreneurs and freelancers can experience is burnout or trouble focusing.
This is usually from forgetting to take care of yourself by chaining yourself to the desk. Make sure you're staying hydrated, schedule 10-15 minute breaks every so often to mentally refresh, and stretch your legs. It has been proven that on average, the human brain can only focus at maximal efficiency for 1.5 hours. Any longer past that, you're just working harder, not smarter. Those 15 minutes you take for yourself can make the next 90 minutes working at a level 10 rather than a watered-down level 8.