Once you become your own boss, everything is about holding yourself accountable. There is no one else to keep you on track but yourself.
It can be extremely difficult to stay focused and productive when you’re in charge of yourself. When you have the power to create your own work hours, choose your work environment, and take breaks whenever you want, you start to slip into dangerous territory.
Follow these tips to help you stay on track and successfully self-manage.
1. Stick to working in the daylight
Creating your own work hours is a large power to have. The distinction separating your work hours from your personal hours is entirely up to you. You may often find yourself working late into the night and pulling the occasional all-nighter. While it may be tempting to spend some nights working late and other days sleeping in all day, you should stick to a consistent work schedule for your best chances at being productive.
Dedicating your night times to your personal life and developing healthy sleep routine will help you stay more energized and attentive during the day. When you lose sleep, you lose your ability to concentrate, focus, and think clearly. Stick to a consistent sleeping routine and make sure the rest you’re getting is restorative by eliminating nighttime distractions and sleeping on a supportive bed. Don’t be like the 36% of sleepers who are sacrificing their sleep with a bad mattress each night.
Sticking to a structured daytime and sleeping schedule will maximize your daily energy and productivity for when you are on the clock.
2. Create a structured schedule for your work hours
When you decide you are on the clock, you need to make sure your schedule is nailed down. Organize your to-do on a weekly basis by first starting with a macro-goal for the week. Write it down so you can see what you’re working towards.
Once you decide what your big goal is for the week, break it down into micro-goals you need to complete in order to accomplish your goal. Prioritize these by importance and urgency for each day.
Don’t just stop when all your to-do tasks are down on paper. To-do lists can take away from your productivity if you don’t use them correctly. Schedule your events and set a time to each of them. This way you’re setting realistic goals while also challenging yourself to stick to your time.
3. ALWAYS track your time
Speaking of time, you’re probably wasting a lot.
Set up a system to track your time and keep yourself moving according to schedule. You can use a timer or find a project management software where you can upload your tasks and set a timer to record how much time you sink into each task.
You can look at your time-usage on a larger scale and find where you’re losing time.
Tracking your time in this way will also help you stop multitasking and give more attention to each individual task at hand.
4. Be smart about your work environment
Finding the right work environment is all about knowing yourself well enough to know where you work best. Working in your home may be comfortable for you, or it may make you slack off. The high-energy of a coffee shop may be appealing to you, or it could cause major distractions.
Consider what works best for you when it comes to where you sit and do your work. Don’t be afraid to change it up a bit every so often to keep your creative energy fresh.
Avoid common distractions such as:
• Using your smartphone
• Having a television on in the background
• A cluttered desk
• Obsessing over checking and responding to emails
Whether it’s a personal or an environmental issue, find the solutions that work best for you to keep you most focused and productive.
5. Remember to still take breaks
Staying focused during your work hours is important, but it’s also important to take proper breaks to keep your head space clear.
Our minds can only focus on a task for so long before needing a break. If you don’t let yourself take a break, your productivity will decrease as you lose focus.
Although you shouldn’t be afraid to take a break, you should be smart about what you choose to do in that time. Several hour long breaks won’t be beneficial during your work hours. Try to limit yourself to taking short 10-15 minute breaks between big tasks.