A lot of my friends and family wonder what I do all day, banging away on my lap top, staring into my computer screen. Am I really working? What is it I do?
YES! I’m really working. In fact, for a while I was always working. When you’re a freelancer or online solopreneuer, it doesn’t mean you get to work less. In fact, if you don’t set up the proper systems, you will probably end up working more.
Ditching your 9-5 is a pipe dream for many; I know it was for me, until I took the big leap and made it a reality. At first, I was so excited to be working for myself, I threw myself into the tasks on my list with gusto, burning the candle at both ends. Working 12+ hours a day meant I was dedicated, right?
The feeling of brewing burnout meant I was really serious about the whole self-employment thing, right? Well, not exactly.
The things that were initially appealing aspects of self-employment like the lack of set schedule and freedom to set my own hours and work from anywhere, had turned into what felt like a never-ending hamster wheel. I was never off the clock, and my to-do list was always full. I felt bombarded by tasks that required my attention, and I’m sure I let things slip during that time. My personal life was suffering because I was always working.
Is your self-started business sucking you dry?
If you’re a freelancer or solopreneur, you can take the reins back. After all, didn’t you start your own business because you wanted to feel replenished and inspired by your work? I know I want to feel fulfilled and energetic, not drained and stressed.
It’s totally possible to stop working 12 hours a day, on the weekends and at night and still have a thriving business. You can be 3 times more productive, feel better and grow your business without the feeling of constant overwhelm and stress.
First, Make Yourself a Priority
I love what I do and I’m so thankful that I don’t have to show up at an office and sit in a cubicle all day long. That being said, because I can work when I where I want, I often end up working at night and on the weekends, when I should be taking care of me, but it doesn’t have to be that way. I end up working at those times because I chose to, not because I have to.
If you’re working all the time, chances are you’re not eating right, you’re not exercising and you’re not nurturing your real, in-person relationships. You probably feel off balance in your life, which is NOT the point of self-employment.
So, think of what you need to feel centered, balanced, and healthy? Start with your own well-being, because if you’re not feeling great it shows in your work. Create your list and fit in everything else around it.
Try scheduling one completely free day per week to recharge and restore your energy.
I know I have to tell myself, just because I love what I do and I can literally work from anywhere with an internet connection, doesn’t mean I have to. Unless it’s an emergency, it can wait until Monday.
What You Can Do Now: List your self-care must-haves and schedule them first. Just like brushing your teeth, these are non-negotiable.
Next, Batch + Schedule Personal & Client Work
Batching and scheduling is a serious game changer. I promise.
In addition to all of the aspects of running my own business, I often juggle multiple projects for multiple clients at a time, and everyone’s project is the most important. It can feel scattered and overwhelming to try to tend to 1 client’s task, then switch to another, then another and so on. The most effective way to handle this is to dedicate specific time each week to work on specific tasks for both my client’s businesses and my own.
For example, Mondays I work on Client A and B. Tuesday’s client C and Wednesday Client D. Thursday’s are for meetings and Friday I prep for the week ahead. Every Single week.
If you have multiple clients with multiple projects, make sure to set these expectations ahead of time so that your clients know when you’re available for them. Create a schedule with your plan for the week and stick to it. If you know you have time scheduled on Wednesday for a certain task, then you are less likely to let it pull you away from the current task you’re trying to accomplish.
If you don’t have multiple clients to batch, you batch similar tasks together so that you can maintain focus and get more done.
By designating tasks and batching similar items to certain days of the week, you can stop feeling scattered and overwhelmed and become much more productive.
Plus, scheduling a fully focused day for creative output and prep allows you to plan with a cohesive vision, and get ahead of the game planning your social media strategy, content for the upcoming week.
What You Can Do Now: Create consistent structure by designating tasks, themes or clients to each day of your week.
Last, but certainly not least, stop checking your email so much.
This will change your life. Turning off email notifications and only checking email in two or three distinct 30-minute windows during the day is a productivity game changer. If you keep your email tab open all the time (like I used to do), you will be constantly distracted by new messages. The same goes for slack or any other messaging system you use. As soon as I saw a new message pop up, I’d stop what I was doing and read the message. And the next thing you know, I’m switching gears to a new task…until the next messages grabs me again! Switching tasks, even if it’s only for a second, is sure fire way to squash your productivity.
As Tim Ferris so wisely said, “email is the largest single interruption in modern life.”
How many times have you been in the middle of a task only to have a Slack message or email pop up that sends you down a rabbit hole? GUILTY!
Multitasking is hailed as an ultimately efficient skill, but I find it extremely hard to focus when I’m constantly barraged by the pinging of my social media and email. Creating content takes easily three times as long when I’m repeatedly losing and regaining focus. A task that should take 15 minutes can easily turn into an hour and that’s SO not cool.
If you’ve been available to your clients 24/7, it may feel unsettling to limit the amount of time you spend responding. By adding a signature line to your emails indicating that urgent messages should be directed to my phone, you can ease anxiety about missing time-sensitive emails. Or, you can create an autoresponder that helps to let everyone know your new productivity plan. At least that way, people will know that you received and have the intention to respond to their message. Since we live in a world where communication is of instant communication, letting people know that you WILL get back to them, can help them feel at ease.
What You Can Do Now: Limit email checking to pre-scheduled windows during the day to avoid interrupting your flow.
Have more breathing room. Get more done. Plan it. Batch it. Schedule it.
Remember, just because you love what you do, doesn’t mean it has to own you!
Have you ever tried batching your tasks? What setup has worked best for you? Or, if you’re considering taking the leap, what’s holding you back from getting organized? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you!
Originally published at www.samanthadiane.net