Ahhhh… the first day of your new entrepreneurial life – the day after you’ve left your full-time job for the last time, the day you no longer have to don business attire and full make-up – is a heady day.
You can sleep in late, start working in your pajamas while curled up on the couch, and there is no boss to tell you to stay off of Facebook or turn that music down. It’s an exhilarating, one-of-a-kind experience.
However, it isn’t too long before you realize that as an entrepreneur, you actually need to be more organized instead of less. Without structure and good self-discipline, your multiple visits to Facebook during the day mean you’re still working late into the evening, often to the detriment of both your family and your sanity.
So how do you go about setting up a plan for your independent work day? Here’s what I’ve learned the hard way.
1. Make a Schedule
This might seem obvious, but it’s critically important for long term success. First, pay attention to when you are most productive; are you a morning person, or do you do better in the afternoon? Once you know your most productive times, schedule your more challenging work during those times. Leave your less productive hours for more routine tasks, such as checking email or updating spreadsheets.
2. Use Good Tools
There are some great time-management tools out there; find the ones that work best for you and use them. One of the best free tools I’ve found is Podio.com. It is incredibly flexible and allows me to manage my schedule and projects very easily. For tracking my time on the web and social media, I like RescueTime.com which offers a weekly productivity report. My first report really showed how much time I waste on social media and helped me build better habits.
3. Batch Tasks
I can bust out a ton of work when I get into a groove. But, starting and stopping different tasks makes me lose momentum very easily. So when I decided to start batching my tasks, it became much easier for me to focus on work instead of getting derailed each time I got a new Facebook or email notification ping.
My four favorite tasks that I like to batch are email, social media, content creation and administrative duties. By blocking off time each day to focus on each batch of tasks, I’m able to accomplish much more, without working longer hours.
4. Consider Outsourcing
Why torture yourself doing things you don’t enjoy and don’t do well when you can easily subcontract out tasks like payroll, taxes, data entry, etc. to other entrepreneurs. Hiring people to do these things will free you up to do what you love and build your business.
In order to be successful over the long term and grow your business in a smart way, you need to do more than work hard – you need to work SMART. After all, you are your own boss now, and you want to give your boss your best, right?