9 Ways to Increase Productivity When You’re Self Employed

By MBO Partners | May 10, 2024


Key Points

Being an independent contractor and in control of your own time might make it difficult to stay productive.

In addition to the typical distractions of checking emails or the seductive appeal of social media, working remotely adds another layer where something else is constantly begging for your attention.

With these nine productivity techniques, you can give each day your all while remaining organized, eliminating stress, and producing superior work.

Staying productive can be tough as an independent contractor. Besides the usual distractions of a chirping inbox or the siren’s call of social media, there’s the added layer of working remotely— where there’s always something else vying for your attention.

Minimizing distractions, lowering your stress levels, and staying organized will go far in boosting your quality of work. Give each day your best with these nine productivity tips.

1. Schedule Your Day

Block time in the day for regular tasks. This will allow you to focus and minimize distractions because you know that everything you need to do is set and scheduled. Be sure to build in flexibility for meetings or unexpected work that comes up. One consultant told us he has settled into a routine of one hour of email to start the day, two 30-minute social media sessions (AM and PM), and another hour of administrative work sending invoices and filing expense reports. With that, he was able to knock out three critical tasks and still leave himself five hours of time to do actual creative work.

Check out: Back Office Management Tips for Self Employed

2. Create a Supportive Work Environment

Your workspace doesn’t have to look like a typical office or an Ikea showroom, but give yourself a good home office. If you don’t have an extra room you can use as an office, consider a wall-mounted desk in an available corner, or using a nook in a larger living area. If your space is limited, look for desks that have built-in vertical storage.

No matter what office situation you come up with, be sure you have a system for organizing paperwork, good lighting, and a comfortable chair. Personalize your space by adding photos, a plant, or anything that brings a smile to your face.

Check out: Create a Home Office with These 10 Tips

3. Prioritize Tasks

With multiple time demands and tasks that number in the dozens, having a list always helps. And as an independent professional, you might not have a project manager or assistant to corral you. So, think outside the box. There are many apps available like todoist that allow you to prioritize tasks, share to-dos, and schedule meetings. If apps aren’t your thing, even a simple sticky note system can be helpful.

4. Use Technology

Speaking of apps, there are so many useful ones available today to help you stay organized, manage your time, or just share and collaborate more efficiently. We highly recommend making use of technology when it makes sense to do so. For example, you might check out HoursTracker to keep track of the time you spend on a project, Basecamp as a project management tool to communicate with clients, or Adobe Scan to scan documents into pdfs using your phone.

Check out: Top 7 Productivity Apps for Self Employed

5. Don’t Use Technology

It’s hard to maintain a rhythm when your devices are beeping and buzzing every 20 seconds. Sometimes you have to shut it all down besides the task in front of you. If you’re blocking time, you’ve had plenty of time for clearing your inbox or getting your social media fix.

6. Set Boundaries

When you run your own business, it’s tough to avoid that unexpected office visit. But if you have a door that can close, close it. Talk to clients and set expectations with them about when you are available and how to reach you. Be sure to do the same with friends and family. Then, be sure to stick to the boundaries you’ve set.

Check out: How to Set Boundaries at Work When You’re Self Employed

7. Prioritize Your Well Being

Your mental and physical health are easy to overlook, but are incredibly important. When you are making your schedule, be sure to set aside some time for yourself each day. Use that time to go for a walk with a friend, do a short yoga class, read a book, do a crossword puzzle—anything that isn’t related to your work that relaxes you. You’ll come back to your tasks feeling reinvigorated and much more productive.

Check out: 4 Self-Care Tips to Practice When Working Remotely

8. Stay Flexible

We all get stuck. But at some point, you need to drop it and get to the next task. It’s kind of like when you stare at a word for so long that it doesn’t even look like a word anymore. At that point, you’re no longer being productive, so move on. Whether it’s striving for perfection or dealing with writer’s block, sometimes it’s easier to shift gears for a little bit and come back later. If you don’t have another task lined up, take a quick walk, or just get up and have a glass of water before jumping back in.

9. Maintain Good Habits

None of these tips will mean anything without the ability to find and stick to your routine. Remind yourself that these routines are worth it. Remember, everyone works in different ways. Try a mix of different things—even practices you think you might not like. You just might surprise yourself. Once you find what clicks, keep doing it, and it will quickly become a habit.


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