Rob has been working for himself since before I met him and I have always been in awe of his ability to wake up and start work immediately. I have never had a work ethic like that so when I segued to working for myself almost five years ago, it was a challenge. After a few weeks of doing everything except actual work (think taking naps, getting my nails done and indulging in boozy lunches instead), I realized that I actually needed the structure that comes with a 9-5 job. However, I didn’t want a 9-5 job. I wanted to be my own boss. So for the last five years I have been tweaking and honing ideas and tricks that give me the structure I need to be productive without sacrificing the lifestyle that comes with working for myself.
My tips and tricks at this point:
Wake up at the same time every day and go to bed at the same time every night
I am a snooze button addict. So to help me actually get going in the morning, I use a little tip Rob read about in Miracle Morning. I get out of bed and immediately brush my teeth. It’s an easy task that doesn’t require me to be fully awake, but after a couple of minutes of brushing I do wake up completely and am more likely to go to the gym or get in the shower than to get back into bed. Also, I try to stick to my weekday schedule on the weekends too, within reason. It makes getting up again on Monday morning a bit easier.
Go to the gym or a workout class first thing in the morning
If I don’t workout as soon as I wake up, the chances of me doing it later are slim to none. Plus it’s another way to fully wake myself up and be ready for the day.
Get ready for the day
I shower, put an outfit on, do my makeup and hair, and eat breakfast. Just like I would if I were going to a regular 9-5 job. It’s easy to simply start working, but I like feeling put together even if I am just going to be sitting at my home office all day. Staying in my pjs or workout clothes all day makes me feel lazy and I am more likely to get distracted by things that are not work. Like naps or Gilmore Girl reruns.
Go to a dedicated work space at home, or a coffee shop
Having a dedicated workspace helps me mentally separate when I should be in work mode and when I should be in relaxation mode. When I sit down at my desk, it is time to start work. When I leave my desk for the day, I can mentally leave work behind too and am then able to fully embrace my leisure time. Also, if I am having trouble focusing on work, I change up my location by either heading to a coffee shop if I’m home or heading home if I am at a coffee shop. The change in scenery clears my head and gets me back on track.
Make lists upon lists
I have a running to do list that I put everything that pops into my head on and then from there I make my daily to do lists. This helps keep me focused and makes sure nothing important that I need to do slips through the cracks. I also pad my list with a few easy to accomplish items. They are great to do when I am feeling tired, or not motivated. I complete an easy task or two and cross them off. When my to do list gets shorter it motivates me to tackle the bigger stuff. Plus the smaller stuff usually requires less brain power, so it’s a nice mental break.
Break the work day into segments
I have three projects I am working on currently so I divide my day into two 3 hour segments and one 2 hour segment. I plug the projects that need more attention that day into the 3 hour segments and put the other project in the 2 hour segment. I set an alarm and work on each project for an hour at a time. Focusing on one project at time ensures that that project gets my full attention. I am much more productive when I have to get things done within a smaller time frame. If I have 8 hours to get my whole to do list done, I tend to procrastinate and then feel frustrated at the end of the day when I didn’t get as much done as I would have liked.
Take a Break!
I would say 90% of my days follow the schedule above. From time to time I alter it to allow me to enjoy some of the perks of being my own boss. Like extended lunches with my friends, getting a mani/pedi in the middle of the day or even taking a nap! I partake in all of these things in moderation, of course. If a majority of my days are productive ones then I can indulge and not feel guilty ever once in awhile. I feel that enjoying the perks of being my own boss is just as important as doing my work. Why else would I leave the stability of a 9-5?!
I am still working out the kinks of working for myself, but I have been loving it and I hope I am lucky enough to be my own boss for the rest of my life!
PS- If you have been interested in taking the leap and becoming your own boss, you should check out my friend’s new company Daylancer. They pair freelancers with companies who need their services. You don’t have to be a graphic designer, writer or anything else that you think of when you think freelancer to do freelancing. Any skill that you possess can be used in freelancing. However, it can be a daunting hurdle to go from a steady paycheck to having to hustle to get jobs to put money in your bank account. That’s where Frank and his team come in. They will take that stress and pressure off your shoulders and even help you negotiate what you should get paid for each project! Having Daylancer on your side will make the transition from your 9-5 job to being your own boss a seamless one!