As an independent contractor, it's important to squeeze every last drop of productivity from your day, in order to maximize your most valuable resource - yourself. Though schedules and lists can help, boosting productivity is not so much a matter of time management as it is a matter of how much quality work you can accomplish during that allotted time.
It's easy to schedule time for work, but then get distracted by client emails or phone calls - or even to work diligently for a few hours, only to realize afterwards that what you were doing didn't quite mesh with your overall goals, rendering that time wasted. In order to help solopreneurs make the most of every hour of every day, here are some productivity tips to implement.
1. Review and strategize regularly. In his book Train Your Brain For Success, Roger Seip recommends taking an hour or so at the end of each week to reflect and plan. By reviewing what you've accomplished each week, and taking a look at both your successes and the areas needing improvement, you'll have a solid grasp on how productive you have been, and where any changes need to be made. Then you can use that information to help guide your planning for the week ahead. Be sure to double check your weekly goals and accomplishments against your overall business goals, however, so you don't end up focusing too much time on an unimportant or even counterproductive area.
2. Block email, social media, and phone calls for two hours daily. Solopreneurs pride themselves on multitasking - and it's often a necessity, given the nature of independent contracting. But research has proven again and again that we do our best work when we have the freedom to focus our entire attention on it. A study conducted at Ohio State University concluded that cognitive functions are in fact impaired when trying to perform two tasks at once, or when switching back and forth between two or more tasks. Interestingly, we feel as though we're being more productive when we multitask, but in fact, our performance suffers. By setting aside a couple of hours each day in which all distractions are removed, solopreneurs can realize an increase in real productivity.
3. Use weekends wisely. For the most part, if at all possible, it's best to use your weekends to relax and refresh yourself. That way, you start the new week with a boost in energy and motivation - which leads to increased productivity. There is, however, one exception. The weekend is the perfect time to take an hour or two to either get caught up, so you start the week on top of your game, or even to get ahead, by taking care of some of the less taxing items on your to-do list in advance. Beginning the week with a head start already in place will motivate you to keep up the pace and get even more done.
Successful independent consulting requires motivation, focus, and productivity. By incorporating these tips into your weekly routine, you can easily boost all three.