10 Productivity Tips for Solopreneurs

Solopreneurs by definition work alone.  They are the masters of their domain.  They take orders from no one, and they give orders to no one.  They are 100% accountable for the successes and failures of their business.  There is a thin line between having a successful solopreneur lifestyle and being the unemployed schmuck who sits at home in his pajamas pretending to be a solopreneur.  A very thin line.  Even though you work for yourself… scratch that… especially because you work for yourself, you have to make sure you are running your solopreneur endeavor as a regular business.

For solopreneurs to be successful, they need to stay productive.  Here are 10 tips to help solopreneurs stay productive:

1. Stop answering emails and phone calls after hours: I have a client who has clients that call and email her after hours.  I asked her if she responds to those emails and phone calls, and she said she did.  I suggested to her that she is training her clients to believe that she will respond to emails and calls even after hours.  If she wants the stop the flow of emails and phone calls after hours, she has to stop answering those emails and phone calls.  It worked.  Which leads to…

2. Have clearly defined hours of business: Although we live in a 24 hour society, it doesn’t mean you have to.  The whole point of being a solopreneur is that you don’t have to work 24 hours a day.  You have to make time for family, friends, and fun.  The only way to do that is to have set hours of operation.

3. Don’t do your laundry at work: I have to admit, I am guilty of combining my work life with my personal chores.  I’ve tried to do laundry in the middle of my workday.  Or I would try to work while I’m getting my oil changed.  I actually found it more productive if I have days where I do nothing but personal chores.  Another thing I found successful was blocking out clear hours within my day where I only work but no chores, or have chores and do no work.  Entanglement, I found, did not work very well.  It actually disrupted my flow.

4. Clean your desk: I get it.  You like your man cave.  I get it.  Even if you have no intention of ever bringing a client home, you should still clean your desk.  Believe it or not, your organizational skills, or lack there of, still gets communicated to the client whether they see your desk or not.  They can hear it in conversations, and emails.  A cluttered desk is a cluttered mind.  A clutter mind does not communicate as well as an uncluttered mind.

5. Have a dress code: Sorry, you can’t work in your pajamas anymore.  First of all, it’s impractical.  What if you have to meet with a client in ten minutes?  How are you going t shower, get dressed, and then drive to you destination in time if you haven’t even gotten out of bed yet?   You don’t have to wear a suit and tie everyday.  Just look presentable.  Being a solopreneur means you’re a businessperson.  Look like one.

6. Take scheduled breaks: I repeat: take SCHEDULED breaks.  It’s very easy to get distracted when you work for yourself.  Having scheduled breaks makes sure you stay on task.  Schedule breaks also prevent burnout.  I have a tendency of working so hard that I sometimes forget to eat lunch.  I’m very mindful of my time now and make sure I take my breaks.  I even take a powernap; a great benefit of being a solopreneur.  But all these breaks are scheduled to make sure I stay productive.

7. Schedule vacations: The one thing solopreneurs forget to do is schedule a vacation for themselves.  Corporations give vacation to their employees; it’s part of their business model.  It should be a part of your business model as well.  If you didn’t include the fact you will be going on vacation for at least two weeks to a month out of the year into your business plan, I would say your business plan is unrealistic and flawed.  One of the biggest things that cause the demise of solopreneurs is burnout.   For your own sake, take a vacation.

8. Don’t become a hermit: That’s right, socializing can actually make you more productive.  I hate to say it, but chatting with your Facebook buddies isn’t really socializing.  You need to get out and meet real people.  One of the dangers of being a solopreneur is the isolation.  Isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, restlessness, and even anti-social behavior.  To prevent that, you need to come in contact with real people in the physical world.  Although attending mixers, and networking events are important, it is also important to attend non-business related events.  Participate in an athletic activity or hobby that involves multiple people.  Volunteering is probably one of the best ways of meeting new people.

9. Take a sick day: Because it is difficult for solopreneurs to get health insurance, solopreneurs tend to forget about taking care of their health.  If you really can’t afford insurance, wait for a free health clinic to around.  Many dentist offices now accept patience without insurance.  You can’t run a business if you’re not healthy.

10. Check in with yourself: You have to make sure you are taking care of yourself, not just your business.  You have to make sure that no matter how busy things gets, you are aligned with your core values.  For you this might be journaling, or meditation, or yoga, or a walk in the park, or saying a prayer.  Basically, you need to step back from everything, and just reflect on what you are doing, and know you are doing the right thing.  Take a breather, and get some perspective.

Solopreneurs need to remember that they are running a business, and need to stay productive.  I don’t know a single successful solopreneur who works in their pajamas all day cooped up in their homes.  Most importantly, solopreneurs need to remember they are human beings first, and a businessperson last.  Solopreneurs need to take care of their health, their mental well being socialize, and take breaks.  Being productive is important.  Being alive, healthy, and aligned with your core values is more important.

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