There are many tips that I’m excited to teach you about growing a solopreneur business. But, one of the most important is how to salvage your day when things start to go south.
My general schedule is to wake up at 6:00 am and work until 8 pm.
During my works hours, I do a mix of working on my business, working as a mom, and working on my job that pays the bills.
I block my hours and name them. Then, I protect them as fiercely as I possibly can.
But, the reality is, “client work” hours can easily bleed into “business growth hours”. And, “family time” hours often get cut short in favor of “client work” hours.
On a daily basis, I am challenged to hold those boundaries around my time blocks and make sure to stay focused on the task at hand. Thankfully, this isn’t my first rodeo and I’ve learned a few tips along the way that make it a little easier.
“Progress Isn’t Made By Early Risers. It’s Made By Lazy Men Trying To Find Easier Ways To Do Things.” – Robert A. Heinlein
The term progress can hold as many or as few tasks as you can fit into it. In other words, getting one task checked off of your list is progress the same way that getting five things checked off of your list is.
For most solopreneurs, the first step to progress is to let go of your expectations of how much you should be able to get done in a day.
In fact, having a set number of tasks in your mind that you think you should be able to check off can actually be very defeating to your progress. Because you have no idea what types of obstacles your day will have.
If you want to be truly productive and focused while you are trying to grow your business – you need to open your mind to see that progress is as little or as much as you get done.
Shift your mindset and accept that, the amount you were able to get done that day – was a good use of your time.
When you’re growing a business alongside your day job, you have to be extremely strategic about which tasks you are putting on your to-do list. That way, even if you check off one task rather than five, that one task helps to get you closer to your goals.
Having this kind of organization for your calendar and your to-do list helps to take the pressure off and dissolves those expectations that you put on yourself and your time.
You are able to feel accomplished for the day. You get the dopamine hit that comes with reaching your goals. And, you maintain a positive relationship with goal-setting.
The worst thing that you can do for your progress … is not start. And, when your day looks like it’s going to crap because life isn’t cooperating with your schedule – it can be easy to throw your hands up and quit.
It’s really a shift in mindset that needs to happen … not a change to your task list. You have to go easy on yourself.
As long as you don’t quit – you are making progress.
Have a system
When you’re growing a business alongside your day job, you have to be very flexible with your time. You have to be able to adjust to days when your best case scenario schedule just doesn’t work out. That means making sure there is a purpose for each minute that you are spending on your business.
Using a time management system helps to make sure that, no matter how many tasks you complete in a day, each one of them has a purpose and is a step towards reaching your goals.
Have A Workspace
No. You don’t have to have a home office. But, you should have a specific area or set up that you use when it is time to go to work.
For me, I sit on the couch, put my ‘work pillow’ in my lap, and then set my laptop on that. I use my earbuds to listen to classical music on Pandora and go to work.
It’s not ideal but, each one of these accessories and actions tells my brain that it is time to focus.
If I don’t have my work pillow, I get a little weirded out by the battery of my laptop heating up my legs and I can’t focus (I know it’s crazy but, that’s me). Plus, the elevation of my laptop is perfect with my pillow but, too low without it.
We do have a home office where husband works and I could easily share the space with him. But, I’ve been working from the couch for more than five years and that’s where I feel the most focused.
Implement a few queues that signal your mind to “go to work lady”.
I know. This sounds weird. But, taking a five-minute break every 20-minutes is far more productive than trying to work straight through. When you’re working during the hours before you go to your day job, you need to make the most of that time.
I love the Pomodoro Technique and the research is solid. Work straight for 20-minutes and then take a 5-minute break.
Good, Better, Best
Sometimes the day just starts to circle the drain and there is nothing that you can do about it. In that case, write down your good, better, best lists and focus on the good list first.
Your “best” list is what you will get done given optimal circumstances. Your “better” list is what you will get done when things are not optimal but, not total crap either.
And, your “good” list is the bare minimum of what you would be happy to accomplish that day. This list is your “out”. And, it will help get your mind right if your day is going to the crapper.
Growing a business alongside your day job is just not easy.
That’s the simple truth of it.
Just stay consistent with your efforts to grow your business. You will start to see greater financial freedom. And, you can start to explore options like quitting that job once and for all!
Be strategic about what you have on your to-do list
Give your brain some queues that it is time to focus
Work in sprints
You will end your day feeling productive and accomplished – regardless of “how many” tasks you mark off your list.