I’ve previously written about ways of making sure you work effectively from home, but this is so important for self-employed professionals that I’m looking at it again.
Many people struggle with productivity when going self-employed. You have no boss or colleagues expecting work from you, and often the only deadlines you have are ones you agree with clients. That’s great for when you’re drafting documents for them, or producing an advice note on a situation they’re in, but not so great for getting all the other aspects of running a consultancy business done, especially those from which you don’t see an immediate return.
So here are my six top tips for continuing productivity in self-employment
Lists and more lists. Currently I have a big list, and I also have a weekly planner with a page to a week and no dates. I do one of these each week and allocate tasks to each day. I put everything I think of that I have to do on my big list so that I don’t have things niggling at me, so that I can minimise how much information I have to keep in my brain at once, and so that things don’t get forgotten until the last minute. It works most of the time, although my accountant would disagree today…
Find someone or a group of people that you make yourself accountable to. Tell them what you intend to do and by when you plan to achieve it and get them to check up on you to make sure you do. If you work with us it will be me – I’ll not only guide you with what to do to make your business successful but will also keep on top of you to make sure you are actually doing it. In a nice way, of course…
If working with us isn’t for you, then you could choose a business coach, ideally on a recommendation of someone who’s used them before, but also you could equally ask your partner, a friend, a colleague, a family member or trusted business contact to fulfil that role.
I put my big list on to a Notes feature which is on my phone and also on my iPad, which means I always have access to it wherever I am. This means not only can I add things immediately I think of them, rather than having to wait until I get home, but also means I that I can then delete things from my list straightaway as well, very satisfying!
Using technology effectively also means I can do emails, make phone calls or do other small tasks while out and about. I frequently catch up on emails sat in the car outside my son’s school, for example.
Know your own strengths and where and how you work most productively. Some people just can’t work effectively from home. That might mean self-employment isn’t a good idea, but actually it might just mean either paying to rent a desk, or use a hot-desking office facility, or setting aside a few mornings a week to sit working in a quiet hotel lounge (for only the cost of a couple of cups of decent coffee). Being self-aware might mean knowing you work best early in the morning, or late at night, and arranging things so that you can do that. It might mean setting aside a space for working at home rather than having your laptop in front of the telly surrounded by household paraphernalia and distractions.
Take time out
Allowing yourself some time off is crucial for productivity. If you’re not feeling well, or are too tired, schedule in some time out. Easier said than done, I know, but a morning off followed by a day of revitalised, rejuvenated hard work is more productive than two days slow going because you’re exhausted.
As soon as you can (or immediately if you’re working with us!), outsource as much of those aspects of your business which don’t have to be done by you, or which you are not as comfortable with, or good at. It takes me hours and hours to format an employee handbook, for example. I have no patience with accounting spreadsheets and use all sorts of avoidance tactics rather than tackle these. I’d rather concentrate on the things I’m good at and which are a far more productive and profitable use of my valuable time.
If you’re interested in talking to us about becoming a partner with face2faceHR, do get in touch.