The term “solopreneur” is starting to gain traction in modern business jargon. Put simply, it’s a portmanteau, or etymological blend, of the words “solo” and “entrepreneur.” Essentially, a solopreneur is an entrepreneur, or savvy business person, who is, at this stage in their career, mostly working alone or for themselves. I became a real solopreneur in my coaching business in 2002 and then renamed my business in 2009 to Solopreneur Solutions. It’s not a career choice that suits everybody, but solopreneurs tend to choose self-employment as a means of spending more time with family on a schedule that suits them. Solopreneurs want to spend time on their own aspirations rather than someone else’s, but that means that the risks and costs associated with not succeeding as a solopreneur are far greater than those incurred working for someone else. Increasing productivity—not to mention maintaining it in the first place—is extremely important for all solopreneurs, but without a boss hovering over your shoulder it can be hard to summon the motivation to remain productive and constantly meet your productivity goals. Here are some tips to increase and maintain your productivity under your own steam, so you can maximize your time and effort for optimum results:
Timing Is Everything
Your circadian rhythm dictates when you’re tired versus when you’re most awake, and it changes throughout your life. Young people, particularly teenagers, are most awake at night, and least productive in the early mornings—while people past the age of fifty tend to find themselves doing their best work in the morning and zoning out after dinnertime. Of course, the person who knows your rhythm best is you. So if you work when you’re at your most productive and allocate high-priority tasks to those times, you’ll find that your workload and its associated stresses will diminish in opposite proportion to your increasing productivity.
Set Priorities and Stick to Them
When you’re going over your tasks for the day ahead, you need to prioritize them, in order, from most important to least important. This also involves rationally approaching tasks. Do you really need to do everything on your to-do list today, or is there a low-priority task that can give way to something more important? You always want to tackle the harder, most unpleasant tasks early in the day, particularly if you’re an early riser. Brian Tracy wrote about this in the book, Eat That Frog. This takes advantage of your ability to focus and leaves you stress-free for the rest of the working day.
Set SMART Goals
You need to set goals in order to achieve them. Increasing productivity is that simple, but your goals need to be relevant to your big-picture plan of attack. Using the SMART acronym enables you to set, and stick to, these sorts of goals.
- S is for Specific. Make your goal clear and unmistakable.
- M is for Measurable. If you can’t quantitatively assess your success, how will you know when you’ve achieved your goal?
- A is for Attainable. Your goal needs to be realistically achievable. This critical step maximizes productivity and avoids slumps in morale.
- R is for Relevant. Does your goal contribute to your business? What does it mean to your overall plan?
- T is for Time constraints. You won’t get anywhere if you have forever to achieve your goal, so set a time limit within which you need to reach your target.
Setting SMART goals means that you’ll achieve what you set out to achieve and know exactly when you’ve done it. It’s a great way to boost morale and productivity so that you can get the most out of your busy day.
Use the Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle goes by a few names, including the 80-20 rule and the law of the vital few. It’s named after Vilfredo Pareto, who observed that twenty percent of Italy’s 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.
Here are a few tools solopreneurs might try to increase productivity.
The app Forest helps to stay focused and be present. Whenever you want to stay focused you plant a try, it takes 30 minutes for the tree to grow, if you leave the app during that 30 minutes then you will kill the tree. So if you have the habit of looking at your phone every 20 seconds this could be very helpful.
RescueTime gives you an accurate picture of how you spend your time to help you become more productive every day. RescueTime premium gives you the ultimate control over your productivity. Track time offline, receive alerts, block websites and much more.
Pomodoro technique is a simple and fun way to manage your time. You can read the book here. And there are a few apps that help with implementation. One of them is focus booster a simple app for implementing the promodore technique for time tracking.
Are you a solopreneur? Do you have a favorite productivity tip or app you recommend to help increase productivity, please add it to the comments below.