Solopreneur productivity has no common yardstick. Everyone has a different way of understanding productivity. The most simple definition of productivity is: “Getting things done – despite the distractions”. The very act of setting an achievement benchmark and then beating the odds to complete the set tasks is “productivity”. Without the hurdles to overcome, anybody can be reasonably productive. It’s when the going gets tough that the tough get going. If you take it as a game to play with life, productivity can be exhilarating with its challenges and rewards.
- Go with your bio-rhythms – just get started, to get the momentum flowing freely
- You can be pro-active instead of reactive in handling your many distractions
- Corporates get productivity from team energy. Solopreneurs need advisory boards
- Are you taking on every task yourself? Outsource and use good productivity tools
- Set proper and firm boundaries between your personal life and your business life
- Don’t trash the “sporadic content” you get in any project – repurpose it anew
- The two rules of productivity that are no-fail are prioritization and scheduling
- Structure your to-do list according to tasks, and by which âhatâ you’ll be wearing
- Have scripts for everything, and tweakyour contact page to reduce unwanted emails
- To be really productive as a solopreneur look at what you are spending time on
- Do the one thing that pushes business – it isn’t the 80/20 rule, it’s the 99/1 rule
- Create, delegate and automate – 3 words change “solopreneur” into “multipreneur”
- Hire a virtual assistant to do the business basics weekly, at a few dollars per hour
- Multitasking isn’t effective – batch working skyrockets productivity
- It is far wiser to divide a more significant task into smaller pieces
- Don’t go it alone – outsource everything you can to focus on what you do best
- The 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle) can sound corny, but it does clarify priorities
- Use a short-term and a long-term to-do list – yes, you do need two to-do lists
VIDEO: Louise Henry, in this great video, discusses “3 Ways to Be a More Productive Solopreneur” (Must watch: 7:59 minutes)
In conversation with productivity guru, Alyssa Coleman, Louise talks of ways in which solopreneurs can boost productivity using simple hacks like goal clarity, calendar scheduling, using the Pomodoro technique, and so on. As the video shows, there is one technique that works for almost everybody to improve productivity, and that is: focus. All the aids and tools you use should be aimed at improving your focus and cutting out the distractions, to be more productive in the short bursts of time you give yourself for concentrated work.
1. Go with your bio-rhythms – just get started, to get the momentum flowing freely
Laura Adams in the article “6 Ways to Turbocharge Your Solopreneur Productivity”:
“While everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day, the quality of those hours varies considerably. Your energy level throughout the day depends on many factors, including your sleep and wake cycles, known as your circadian rhythm.
Pay attention to your body and notice when youâre tired and when youâre most alert and thinking clearly. You might notice that you have a dip in energy at the same time every day. Whenever youâre most alert is when you should be working on what you value most. If thatâs your budding business, carve out that slice of time to focus on it.
When thereâs a more significant task or project on your plate, but youâre procrastinating for whatever reason, tell yourself just to give it 10 minutes. If youâre like me, you probably tend to avoid tasks that you think will be complex, take a long time, or you just donât like doing.
While you might not complete a big task in 10 minutes, beginning it usually unlocks your ability to maintain momentum and get it done. Maybe youâve heard the proverb, âWell begun is half done.â Thatâs productivity gold! Simply getting started on a project â especially one youâre dreading for some reason â makes it so much easier to keep going.â
2. You can be pro-active instead of reactive in handling your many distractions
Christoph Filgertshofer in the article “Five Ways To Boost Productivity As A Solopreneur”:
“Incoming phone calls and e-mails are my No. 1 enemy. There’s always someone who needs help fixing a problem, wanting an opinion on a specific topic or asking for advice regarding an approach. They dictated my life for way too long and drifted me away from deeply focused work.
My good friend and business partner once shared his approach to managing all kinds of incoming requests: “Just create yourself a specific timeslot to handle all emails and phone calls.”
Ever since, I have dedicated 45 minutes each evening to work through unanswered e-mails, phone calls and other messages, which my assistant has filtered beforehand.
I’m not a machine, nor are other successful entrepreneurs machines. In the end, we’re all just humans. However, we can always strive to improve our efficiency and productivity to guarantee maximum success in a naturally given 24 hours. These methods work for me, and they can work for you. Just give them a shot.â
3. Corporates get productivity from team energy. Solopreneurs need advisory boards
Peter Shallard in the article “The Solopreneur Handicap That Makes You Suck at Productivityï»¿”:
“Solopreneurs want freedom from constraints, pressure and people telling them what to do. The problem is that they get it. Unless they figure out a way to stay motivated, they usually receive a healthy dose of poverty too.
While the solopreneur plays video games (or cleans his desk for the fifth time), the empowered big business entrepreneur and her team are kicking ass and taking names. They might not focus on âshipping artâ or other lofty ideals, but they sure as hell get a lot done.
How can you be a solopreneur and be accountable? Iâm glad you asked, treasured reader, because I think in this case you really can have your cake and achieve goals too! I was chatting with a client recently whoâs experienced huge traction using Facebookâs social accountability plugin. It turns out, if you have a good network, there are plenty of people interested in holding you accountable to get things done.
The evolved version of this strategy is one I recommend to clients: Build an advisory board. Consider formalizing your relationship with the people (friends/family) who are stake holders in your life. The people who care. By creating an advisory committee, you can check in (monthly or quarterly works best) with a team of people who are focused on your success. For an hour a month, their job is to hold you accountable to your promises.”
4. Are you taking on every task yourself? Outsource and use good productivity tools
Lakshya Singh in the article “Productivity-Boosting Hacks for Solopreneurs That Work”:
“Are you taking on every task yourself? Perhaps there are some things that you can outsource. In doing so, you can avoid menial time-sucks and focus on doing what you do best. Outsourcing also allows you to hand certain tasks over to freelancers who are more skilled or experienced in doing them, which can render a better result.
With the myriad of productivity, organization, tracking, and task management tools available today, it would be a grave mistake not to leverage their potential. There are several great options to choose from across each category. This includes software for communication, accounting, note-taking, project management, and more.
Todoist, for instance, helps you stay organized by providing a central platform for handling tasks and collaborating with others. Boosted provides time-tracking, reports, and features such as a Pomodoro timer to help you ease through work, while Quickbooks makes managing your money a breeze. Itâs up to you to explore and find which tools serve you best.
Remember that procrastination begets more procrastination and the same is true for distractions. At the same time, itâs important to maintain a balance and avoid overworking yourself. Start early, stay on track, and youâll reach peak productivity in no time.”
5. Set proper and firm boundaries between your personal life and your business life
Chris Ducker in the article “The Solopreneurs Guide to a Productive Home Office”:
“I canât stress this enough. When Iâm at home in my office working â thatâs exactly what Iâm doingâ¦ working. My family knows it. Especially my 6-year old boy, Charlie. Thereâs nothing more heâd love to do than spoil my work zone with some good old-fashioned Lego playtime.
Now, donât get me wrongâ¦ I love a good Lego session as much as the next man â but, thereâs a time for building spaceships and cool battle squadronsâ¦ and when Iâm supposed to be building my business, it isnât that time!
Having a solid working schedule in place will put you on the right path when it comes to working from home with family around. For example, I work between 12noon and 5pm, Monday to Thursday â I do this currently (itâll change in a few months when my boy graduates from Kindergarten to Primary) because itâs when my youngest is at school. It allows me time to truly focus. My wife, Erz who runs the business with me will sometimes be in the office with me, sometimes sheâll work from our living room â whatever âcatches her fancyâ (a very intricate decision making situation that I donât get involved with!).
If I have any calls I need to do to the USA, I do so in the evening, after 9pm my time, which is when Charlie is wrapped up in bed. At all other times, if I am on the odd occasion in the office at home, itâs okay to disturb me. Thatâs our guidelines in the house and they work brilliantly.”
6. Don’t trash the “sporadic content” you get in any project – repurpose it anew
Pascal Maniraho in the article “The Productive Solopreneur â On Content Scavenging”:
“From ideation to production, a typical project generates quite a sizable, historically rich, amount of sporadic content. Most of which ends in garbage right after delivery. “Sporadic content” refers to derivatives from your main product. You may call them leftovers if you like.
It is feasible to recycle and re-purpose most of sporadic content into by-products, by re-thinking and wiring your existing tools, to create a process that turns trash into gold./p>
By-products can be printed or digital marketing content useful to both stakeholders and customers. By-products may also be knowledge base for customer support, whitepapers for prospect customers, email courses to onboarding new customers or new hires, you get the picture!
At end of the day, all documentations or email communications, can be compiled into blog posts, then course materials, then whitepapers, then books. All of these are money cows.”
7. The two rules of productivity that are no-fail are prioritization and scheduling
Chad Reid in the article “5 Quick Productivity Tips For Busy Solopreneurs”:
“Take time to prioritize tasks. There is no such thing as multitasking. Even people who think they are multitasking are really only concentrating on one thing at a time. They are just switching between tasks quickly, increasing the probability of human error.
The key is to prioritize tasks and projects by level of importance. Laser focus on one task at a time as you move down the list. Youâll get a lot more accomplished throughout the day. Besides, studies show that trying to multitask actually inhibits productivity.
Following a schedule makes efficient use of your time. Schedule business hours and follow them. If you donât, youâll work around the clock until you burn out. Instead of trying to completely eliminate distractions, schedule time for them. Take 15-minute breaks every two hours to check in on Facebook or look at your phone.
Schedule your Netflix binge for the same time every week. Appoint a time each day to return emails, perhaps at the end of the day. If you get emails throughout the day, then consider returning them before lunch and at the end of the day. It will help keep interruptions to a minimum. “
8. Structure your to-do list according to tasks, and by which âhatâ you’ll be wearing
Ella Stuart in the article “Struggling With Productivity As A Solopreneur”:
“Checking my Trello board, Google Calendar and to-do list gave me an overview of work to be done but it didnât motivate me. In conversation with a friend, I was reminded that as a âteam of oneâ I have many roles to play and different âhatsâ to wear. Each hat had her own personality, so to say, and needed different things to thrive as a member of the team. The 3 hats that I realised I wear most often in running a coaching business are:
The creative: She writes and collates all my social media and web content. The coach: This lady delivers the coaching services that the business offers and makes sure that I look after my well-being and rest enough as an entrepreneur. The businesswoman: She works on business strategy, creates the long and short-term business goals and collaborates with partners.
In mapping this out, I saw a different way to structure my time and feel more productive and motivated doing it. I started to structure my to-do list (I still love my lists) not only according to the tasks I wanted to complete for that day, Iâd note which âhatâ Iâd be wearing and revise the list to see which tasks fell under that hat and which other hat I might âcollaborateâ with to get the job done.
For example, writing a proposal for a new client requires the coach and businesswoman to team up while creating a new group coaching programme requires all 3 to work together over a longer period of time. Because magical things happen when these ladies speak together and work as a team!”
9. Have scripts for everything, and tweakyour contact page to reduce unwanted emails
Raelyn Tan in the article “6 Time-Saving Solopreneurship Tips for Productive Unicorns”:
“If you find yourself chained to your desk all day long because you are too busy answering emails, it is time to implement some systems. Email scripts (or templates) are great because they allow you to answer common inquiries with a well thought-out answer that can be pasted into your replies within seconds.
For example, I run a popular Pinterest group board for bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Every week, about 5-10 people will email me asking if they can be accepted as a contributor. I have found that using a script to reply to such requests dramatically decreases the time I spend maintaining my Pinterest group board. Also, I have scripts to reject people when they ask for favors like product review requests, which allows me to give timely rejections in a polite and professional manner.
As my business grew, so did the number of people reaching out to me wanting something from me. Unfortunately, most of these requests do not bring any value to me. As much as I want to help everyone, that is logistically impossible. For instance, many people email me asking to guest post on my blog when I donât accept guest posts. Another example would be new bloggers reaching out asking for me to share their articles, even though I have never had any prior contact with them.
Responding to such emails quickly became very tiring. Hence, my advice to you is to edit your contact page to clearly state the kind of inquiries you would entertain. You should also answer common FAQs on your contact page, such as whether you accept guest posts or not.”
10. To be really productive as a solopreneur look at what you are spending time on
Charelle Griffith in the article “7 Productivity Tips For Solopreneurs”:
“When it comes to productivity most people will firstly focus on getting everything done as quickly as possible. Lots of information on productivity will focus on time-management and whilst time-management is an important aspect of productivity there is something else that also matters â what you are doing.
It is possible that you can learn to do everything slightly faster by utilising time-management techniques, but in order to be really productive as a solopreneur you have to look at what you are spending your time working on.
In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes about The Time Management Matrix.This matrix is meant to help you to plot out your tasks and then identify what you should be focusing on. It is so easy to focus on urgent tasks, but in a world that is moving quicker and quicker, it is easy to never get through the urgent tasks and onto the important but non-urgent ones.
Also, another thing to consider is Paretoâs Principle, which looks at the unequal balance of effects and courses or input and output. As a solopreneur, it is vital that you identify what tasks have an unequal value in your business ie the results drastically outweigh the time and resources you put in. By identifying the tasks youâll have a clear understanding of what really matters in your business and be able to focus your resources in the right direction.”
11. Do the one thing that pushes business – it isn’t the 80/20 rule, it’s the 99/1 rule
Corey Fradin in the article “3 Ways To Be A Productive Solopreneur (And 1 Way To Ruin It)”:
“As a solopreneur, as someone working for yourself, striving to grow your business, all things start and end with you. You are the business. And if you donât do the work, the business wonât move forward. So you must find ways to be productive and get things done even when things go awry or plans donât come to fruition.
Know the one thing you should do. In any endeavor, there is normally one thing that is more important than the rest. One thing that will push your business forward more than anything else. If youâre an artist, itâs painting. If youâre a salesperson, itâs cold calls. In my case, itâs writing.
I know that if I can only do one thing in a day, writing comes first. It comes before responding to emails or working on new designs. Forget the 80/20 rule, this is 99/1. Before I do the other 99 things, I need to get my writing done first.
In your business, especially as a solopreneur, ask yourself: What is the one thing I must do each day? Then, make that the priority.”
12. Create, delegate and automate – 3 words change “solopreneur” into “multipreneur”
Kahlil Crawford in the article “5 Quick Productivity Tips for Busy Solopreneurs”:
“Take some time each day to engage your inner muse – journal, dance, paint, sing, etc. Studies show that arts participation can inspire creative business ideas that can empower and grow your solopreneurial venture. Donât be shy! If random people can create masterpieces at local âSip & Paintâ events, there is no reason why you canât boogie your way to the next solopreneurial level!
For many solopreneurs, the concept of delegation is synonymous with sharing control of their âbabyâ. However, the solopreneur must ultimately choose growth over control; hence the need for task delegation.
Find a proven and trustworthy delegate upon which you can consistently rely, yet maintain your âcontrolâ via regular meetings to develop strategies, review progress and set goals. Treat your delegate as an executive would a manager, because mutual trust and power-sharing can take your venture a long way…
What canât be delegated must be automated. For a solopreneur, it is possible to successfully compete against large companies and corporations via software automation. When implemented and leveraged correctly, software automation can transform a solopreneur into a powerful âmultipreneurâ with several competitive advantages that larger companies cannot foresee.”
13. Hire a virtual assistant to do the business basics weekly, at a few dollars per hour
Ivan Widjaya in the article “The Remote Solopreneur â Tips For Productivity & Success”:
“Working as a solopreneur can typically mean wearing many hats â working on the core of your business, taking phone calls, answering emails, chasing sales leads â you may well have to do it all yourself.
Outsourcing administrative tasks can be relatively cheap and incredibly rewarding in terms of the time you will get back. One way to track the impact or the potential impact of outsourcing is to keep a journal of your daily tasks for one week. Then, note how many times you answer an email and how often you answer the phone.
Research suggests that a single interruption takes on average 23 minutes to ârecoverâ from. For each unnecessary phone call or email, you can multiply that by 23 to work out how many minutes per week you spend switching from peripheral and administrative business tasks back to the businessâs principal work.
Hiring a virtual assistant can be relatively inexpensive if you live in the US or the UK, thanks to geo-arbitrage. The US dollar and the British pound are both relatively strong compared to India and Philippinesâ currencies, for example. You are therefore able to hire highly experienced virtual assistants to filter emails, reply to basic emails, book appointments, etc., for as little as a few dollars per hour.”
14. Multitasking isn’t effective – batch working skyrockets productivity
Venese Lau in the article “9 Productivity Tips Every Entrepreneur And Solopreneur Needs To Know”:
“Many entrepreneurs believe that having the ability to multitask is a good thing. Multitasking is a part of the nature of many entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. A lot of people think that it is a great skill to have, but it can actually hamper your productivity and effectiveness. By multitasking, youâre spending more time shifting your attention from one task to another, rather than working effectively and efficiently.
The opposite of multitasking is batch working. This is an important productivity tip, where you spend a big amount of time focusing on one task or one type of work, rather than going back and forth.
Through batch working, you will be able to produce more content in less time. Batch working can help you decrease the amount of distraction that you might come across and help you to concentrate so you can focus on a single task at a time. Once you have enough content for one platform, you can then move onto another platform and focus on that.
When you start batch working, by grouping similar tasks together, your effectiveness increases, helping to skyrocket your efficiency and your productivity. This is an important productivity tip to have to help you skyrocket your productivity.”
15. It is far wiser to divide a more significant task into smaller pieces
Harika Kochhar in the article “6 Productivity Tips and Hacks for Solopreneurs in the New Normal”:
“Desmond Tutu once wisely said that âthere is only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.â He couldnât me truer. We try to complete a huge chunk of tasks at once, only to make mistakes and feel exhausted.
So, instead of focusing on the results, we should focus on the process. And to do so, it is wiser to divide a more significant task into smaller pieces. In this way, you become more organized and productive.
For example, If you want to write a book, write 1 page every day. In the words of James Clear, start building atomic habits.
If you set a timer to work 4 hours a day, you may not feel like sitting in a chair for that long. Dividing a bigger task into smaller chunks makes your work effortless. Just like adding a small brick consistently builds a big building.”
16. Don’t go it alone – outsource everything you can to focus on what you do best
Nathan Resnick in the article “8 Tips for the Work From Home Solopreneur”:
“While cutting out the distractions that come from working at home, you donât have to live in utter isolation. Networking with established people in your industry can be invaluable. Remind yourself that, no matter how unique your problems are, others have been there before you.
By seeking advice from an array of friendly supporters, you can create the rope to pull yourself out of a slump (and go on to help others in the same way they helped you). Keith Ferrazzi wrote a great book called âNever Eat Alone,â that suggests how you can start making these kinds of connections.
Running a business from home requires a wide array of skills. While your goal may be to do it all yourself, networking may uncover specialists that can do some small tasks better or quicker than you can.
When you outsource your time-munching tasks to freelancers and specialists, it frees your time to do what you actually care about. That way you can focus on the big âwhyâ of what you do.”
17. The 80/20 rule (Pareto Principle) can sound corny, but it does clarify priorities
Donna Amos in the article “How Solopreneurs Can Increase Productivity”:
“The Pareto principle goes by a few names, including the 80-20 rule and the law of the vital few. Itâs named after Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that twenty percent of Italyâs population owned eighty percent of its land, and twenty percent of the pods in his garden produced eighty percent of its peas.
So, in basic terms, the Pareto principle assumes that twenty percent of your problems will take up eighty percent of your time.
As a solopreneur you know all to well that effective problem solving can mean life or death for your business, you know the disproportionate impact a cranky client or malfunctioning machine can have. The other side of the coin, though, is that twenty percent of your actions can give you eighty percent of your potential benefits.
This rule of distribution might sound a bit corny, but if you pay attention you can observe it in business and in nature. Stick to this principle and use it to dictate your priorities and time allocation.”
18. Use a short-term and a long-term to-do list – yes, you do need two to-do lists
Ryan Glover in the article “5 Tips for Staying Productive as a Solopreneur”:
“Not knowing what’s next, not keeping track of what you need to do, and leaving most days up to chance. If this sounds like you, it’s likely that you’re missing an essential tool for success: a to-do list. Wait, what?! A to-do list?! Yep. It’s staggering to see how many folks don’t keep a regular to-do list and instead rely on scraps of paper, their email inbox, or a myriad of apps filled with junk.
Short-term lists are “today and this week” and long-terms lists are everything beyond.A short-term list should only contain things that you can realistically (or must) do in the next few days. It helps to take some time each dayâI like to do this in the morning or in the eveningâto “edit” your list. Ask yourself “am I really going to do this today?” If not, look at your schedule coming up and pick a good day to do it. Schedule it and forget it. Your short-term list should contain stuff like “Add X feature to the app” or “fix bug with X feature.”
Long-term lists are more abstract. These should contain ideas for things you’d like to or need to do but aren’t urgent (e.g., don’t forget to pay a tax bill). This could be a feature idea you have over lunch, or a reminder to get a gift for someone’s birthday.
The point isn’t so much the list as getting things out of your head. As a solopreneur, unless you’re lying, it’s a guarantee that you’re overwhelmed at least some of the time. By utilizing to-do lists, you reduce the amount of stuff bouncing around your head which means more space to think about your product and the tasks at hand.”
So What Are Your Thoughts? Do Share!
This post is incomplete without your input. The community of solopreneurs would feel galvanized to hear from you … so do share your thoughts on this topic with us, in the comments field below this post.
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