Working for myself and being my own boss has been a dream come true. I get to set my schedule, create workshops, spend time writing, meet interesting people, and take time off when I choose. I feel a great sense of freedom and pleasure in showing up to work everything and I know this helps me get things done and increases my productivity.
At the same time, because I have this freedom and I can work at my own pace, sometimes I find myself distracted and off task. I may start researching a topic to include in my weekly newsletter only to lose an hour because I read more articles than I needed. In search for some inspiration to post on my social media, I inadvertently get sucked into Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter – and whoops, there goes another hour. After dropping off my kids at school or when leaving my exercise class, someone will invite me out for a quick cup of coffee, which is important for me to stay connected to my community – but oops – the quick coffee chat turns into a two hour social engagement.
These aren’t necessary bad things that happen, but time is money. When you are working for yourself, you cannot afford to be frivolous with your time. Many people take that to mean you have to keep your nose down and keep grinding without taking a breath. That’s not the way you want the productivity pendulum to swing either.
When I coach entrepreneurs (and myself) on ways to keep their productivity levels high and workaholic tendencies low, I offer the following suggestions:
Work on projects aligned to your business goals. I often hear clients say, “I’m so busy doing stuff, but I’m not sure these are the right things.” There are many opportunities that show up. They look good, sound fun, and because of this you want to say yes! This can make you busy doing things that do not matter for your business and do not fit your goals. Pick wisely and say yes to the right things.
Signing up for trainings – even if they are free. It’s OK to want to learn something new for your business or see what other entrepreneurs and thought leaders are doing. The productivity problem is when you sign up for trainings you don’t need, the training does not help you move forward with your business goals, and that puts you behind in getting prioritized tasks completed. A good way to manage this is to select one training per quarter (based on the length of the training). This will help you increase your knowledge, confidence, and skillset – without decreasing your productivity.
Merge social time with networking. Many entrepreneurs work alone and that gets lonely. Working in a shared workspace or coffee shop may help with that, but as humans, we naturally crave connections with others. To stay productive during your work hours – build some social networking into your schedule. Make a coffee date and have a friend introduce you to someone who may be a great partner for a collaborative project. Join a lunch network bunch – so you can expand your professional network pool and not skip eating. Create your own meet up based on your business. This is a great way to expand your business reach while staying focused on business goals.
Schedule your social media engagement time. Connecting with your audience on social media is very important in today’s business world. Setting a specific time frame, each day, to interact with your online audience will help you manage your time as well as be responsive to your online community. Finding out the best times to post on your social media platforms which will help stay focused during your office hours.
When are you the most productive during your work day? What productivity systems do you use?
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