5 Simple Life-Hacks for the Self-Employed

Increase productivity so you can focus on what’s important

When people imagine owning their own business, they often fantasize about setting their own hours, wearing what they want, working when they feel like it; but entrepreneurship is one of the most demanding ways of making a living, and most of us don’t have the discipline or organization to do it without a considerable amount of help. Fortunately, there are a few lifestyle changes you can make to improve your small business, fortify your commitment and get things done.

1. Make room for distractions

This may seem counter-intuitive, but controlled and scheduled distractions can actually make you a more effective worker. Accept that other tasks will make demands on your time during your workday, and modify your goals accordingly (this is particularly true for self-employed parents). Also, taking a ten-minute break to read a chapter of a book or work on another project can help you return to work refreshed and ready to think in a new way. Interruptions that you’ve scheduled beforehand are less likely to disrupt your discipline.

2. Give yourself a workday

If you never clock in, you can’t really clock out—and too many entrepreneurs spend every waking moment half-focused on work while scrambling to fulfill other responsibilities. Entrepreneurs who work that way don’t last very long—it’s less productive, and it’s a sure recipe for burnout. Give yourself a real workday, as long as it needs to be.

Also, don’t assume that 9 to 5 is the best time for your productivity—you know which hours of the day are most productive for you, so schedule your workday whenever is optimal. Of course, you should consider the resources and contacts who will only be available to you during “regular business hours”, but that’s only one factor in your decision.

3. Schedule a ten-minute planning session every morning

Particularly if you’re the kind of person who struggles to stick to a plan, it’s best to make goals that you can hold yourself accountable for right away—and that means starting small, with manageable, quantifiable goals that you can achieve the same day. Then, at the end of the day, take ten minutes to take stock of how you actually spent your time, compared with your plan. It can be an illuminating experience.

4. Mobilize your office as much as possible

To whatever extent possible, empower yourself to get things done on the move; and if things just aren’t cooking in your home office, get up and go somewhere else. A simple change of scenery can do wonders for your creativity and problem-solving capacity. Smartphones, tablets, and ultrabooks can help you stay productive at a park, on public transportation, or even in a waiting room at the doctor’s office, just make sure you are using a data only sim. Working in a new environment is also a great way to avoid your pet distractions, and being able to respond to problems wherever you are will keep your business agile and responsive.

5. Make time for education

Especially in today’s business climate, you can’t be a technophobic or rigid small business owner. Entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people on the planet—but the successful ones make time to raise their vision, build new skills, and change strategies that aren’t working. Make it a point to learn something new every day (you can invite a spouse or friend to hold you accountable)—and look for ways to apply what you learn to your business.

Patricia Shuler is a BBGeeks.com staff writer from Oakland, California. She’s an admitted tech-junkie who’s quick to share her honest opinion on all things consumer electronic—including up-to-date news, user reviews, and “no holds barred” opinions on a variety of social media, tech, computer, and mobile accessories topics.