Being a one (wo)man band or solopreneur isn’t easy neither in music nor in business. Though I have never regretted the decision to become my own boss and start working as an independent consultant and content writer, there have been quite a few bumps on the way to establishing the efficient work routine I have today.
If you are working independently or running a small biz, it often seems you lack the time to tick off each thing on your endless to-do list.
While being your own boss certainly
Clearly Define Your Working Hours
The problem with being a solopreneur/freelance service provider is that your working day does not end once you step out of the office (you kind of live in it, literary). There’s always the temptation to answer some late emails from folks in other time zones, switch your laptop first thing in the morning to start hustling right away and afterwards wonder why you feel busy all the time.
Work and play hours mix easily when you are working for yourself, thus you need to establish a clear border between those. Choose your most productive hours and base your operation hours around them. I’m a huge fan of working in sprints, for instance, and prefer to concentrate on one major task for 90 min at a time and afterwards switch to another activity e.g. getting on the phone with the clients or heaving an hourly break for sports.
Reduce The Time You Waste on Routines
So how do you find an extra hour or two in your day for personal stuff? By automating and reducing time waste on common routines.
In my case, for instance, I get loads of emails, especially those requesting more details about my services or asking a common set of standard questions e.g. what sponsorship options do you have on the blog or whether I accept guest posts. To reduce the time on typing away the same replies over and over again, I have a set of canned replies stored in my gmail, which I can shoot away in one click with a few slight tweaks.
When it comes to working with clients, I have a standard set of creative briefs for different types of projects (found the templates here), I can send out with slight customization.
I use a number of tools to atomize my social media posting. Plus, I’m a huge fan of IFTTT – a nifty app that has a selection of automatization recipes (e.g. tweet your latest blog post) or which you can use to create your own rules (e.g. send a notification to take umbrella if the forecast says it will rain tomorrow).
Learn To Say No
As Lena Dunham perfectly puts it in her essay: “”No” is a word that could have served me well many times, but I didn’t ever feel I had the right to use it.”
And it gets even harder to say “no” as a solopreneur. I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge people pleaser. I always tend to make one step further and deliver extra value to make sure the client stays super-satisfied with the final product.
However, here the problem arises: by saying “yes” to every project heading your way; for every opportunity and potential partnership, you steal the time from yourself and expand your work capacity till the limits when you feel miserable and exhausted.
Learning to say “no” to amazing and/or well-paid projects is pretty darn hard, but it’s something you’ll need to master unless you want to lose yourself under the piles of projects marked “urgent”.
Power Up Your Toolkit
Ok, so I love paper notebooks and often take notes longhand, though I’m much faster with typing these days ☺ A pen and paper is still a good thing to stay organized in the 21st century, but I’d still encourage you to upgrade your toolkit with a few handy apps:
For project management and day-to-day work chores, I prefer to use Trello to have all the ongoing tasks neatly organized at a dashboard + for easy collaboration and Google Drive to manage, send and store all the docs I’m working with.
Additional tools for project coordination and management at a larger scale – Slack, MS Project, Evernote and Wunderlist app.
For financial matters and staff alike I vouch for Freshbooks, which makes accounting and invoicing a total breeze and Mint for personal finance tracking and budgeting.
For legal contracts and arrangements I have recently discovered Shake – an app, which allows you to create, send and sign legal agreements in just a few seconds. It’s a great app for freelancers and small biz owners, who are not protected by the federal laws from not getting paid and don’t have huge attorney budgets.
Schedule Your Vacation
Last, but not least, don’t forget to take time off and unplug. It may seem like your venture will sink while you are out, but I can give you 99.99% guarantee that it wouldn’t.
You need vacation time to clear up your mind, finally get rid of those stress and step aside to return with a better perspective on your biz.
How do you actually plan your vacation? Easy! Notify the clients well in advance and adjust all the current deadlines. Hire a person to delegate some of the tasks e.g. maintaining your social media/answering emails and doing some other VA job and restrain yourself from checking your email for at least a day or two.
Images: ” hand touch solopreneur technology background /Shutterstock.com“
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