As a solopreneur, your business depends on your ability to be productive. However, it’s easy to have 30+ tabs open and 15 of them are part of your YouTube binge. Or in my case, it’s mindlessly scrolling through Twitter or binge “researching” for blog tips to feel productive. If you have trouble focusing for a long period of time, use these tips below to improve your productivity.
Set the Ambiance and Get Comfy
Turn off the lights and light a candle. Think about your happy place and see where you feel the most focused. Do you like the busy bustle of a coffee shop or a peaceful solitary corner of the library? If you have a short attention span, do what you can to make sure your surroundings are less invasive. Decide your peak productivity hours. For me, I’m the most focused late at night or early in the morning when it’s completely peaceful. Probably more of the latter than the former. After 11pm, nothing’s getting done or absorbed. Cue evening routine. Then, I would keep my overhead lights off and turn on my reading light so that my surroundings are a distant thought. I can focus on what’s right in front of me. If I had to focus during the day, I would choose a place with good natural lighting, semi-comfy chairs and wall colors that aren’t distracting. Cooler tones are supposed to promote effective thinking and keep your eyes soothed. Otherwise, make sure your home office furniture is the perfect height for you. Your chairs should be comfy enough to not worry about your butt hurting but not so comfy that you start taking naps during breaks. Oh, and have your tools and snacks on. Especially, tea. Can’t forget a cup of tea.
2. If you like having background music, I have a couple of Spotify playlists to keep you calm and focused.
Comment below this post with your favorite Spotify playlists.
3. Limit access to yourself and from yourself
Accessibility to your time and space is a double edge sword here. First, worry about limiting your social networking so that you’re not checking your accounts several times throughout your focus block. Avoid social media if it’s not directly related to your action items for the day. For example, I keep Twitter and Instagram at bay unless I have to make graphics and schedule posts. Same thing for emails. I’m good for checking my email several times a day, even though it’s mostly updates from subscriptions I should’ve cancelled months ago. If this is hard for you to manage on your own volition, turn to websites that automatically block websites during a specified time period. Second, define your “visiting hours.” You might be frustrated if you constantly have family popping into your office space. Communicate with your family, friends or whoever you usually share space with, that you will address their needs once you’re in your scheduled break time. Shit, hang a “DND” sign on your office door or on the back of your office chair if you don’t have a curtain or separator yet.
Tip: Instead of checking your social media or web-surfing mindlessly, put your distractions down on a sticky note. When I really need to focus, I would write down anything I wanted to search, tweet or check on. Then, if it’s important you’ll actually return to the sticky note later. If not, they were likely just fleeting thoughts.
4. Avoid burnout
Take a break sometime. Some of us like to get everything done in one sitting and liable to shoot ourselves in the foot doing it. You’ll be more productive if you anticipate having a break at some point. Decide about how long you can work uninterrupted. What you can try is timing yourself to see how long you’re focusing before you get the urge to check social media or other things. Then, make your break ⅓ of that amount. If you can focus for 30 minutes, make your break 10 mins long. This way you’ll come back to your work refreshed and reduce your chance of carpal tunnel, backaches or eyestrains. Early morning exercise is another way to avoid burnout while making your health a priority. You could stretch during breaks as well. Plenty of ways to go about it.
5. Give yourself a reward
You should be scheduling fun into your week anyways, right? Why not make it the reward for when you’re done with your work session? For instance, once I’m done writing a blog post or making graphics for the week, I would schedule an episode of my favorite show Insecure. Realistically, it’s a post-work binge. Can’t just watch one episode. In the larger scope of things, you could reward yourself with a piece of clothing you’ve been eyeing down from BooHoo (or wherever you shop. I’m open to some black-owned suggestions). Once you achieve a major goal you could go ahead and checkout from your cart. Emphasis on major goals. Not after every working session. That’s retail-therapy. Hurts your pockets and doesn’t help your business.
6. Establish post-work session maintenance routine
This is the perfect time to return calls, emails and check your accounts to answer messages you may have missed during your session. You can also take a few minutes to declutter your space if you tend to get messy in the process. A clean space is a clean mind. Put away unnecessary paperwork and place things you’ll need for the next session, i.e. your to do list. Get ready and plan out your next session.
As a solopreneur, functioning at maximum capacity is a priority. However, when you have total control of your time it’s easier to have flexible boundaries between you, your surroundings and your business. But that’s what we’re here for. Choose one or more of these ideas to start with, go forth and prosper.
How do you make yourself more productive and in a sustainable way?