Are you like me…? Do you have a to-do list as long as your arm with 30+ things on it and every time you tick one thing off, you add another on? Are you juggling multiple things on a daily basis (could be work, side-hustle, blog, kids etc.)? Do you feel like you’re constantly working, but not getting much done?
You’re not alone.
Trust me, this was me until fairly recently and it was exhausting (not to mention anxiety-inducing)!
So what did I do to change it?
I decided that I needed to work smarter, not harder… maximise the little time I had to get the most out of it and ensure that I went to bed with an empty mind to actually get a good night’s sleep. I introduced some time management and productivity hacks into my daily routine and have never looked back. This post, walks you through just a few of my top productivity hacks that every solopreneur should know…
Productivity Hack 1 – brain dump
Part of having too much to do and not being effective with our time, comes from it all being stored up there, in our brain! If you’re anything like me, you’ll have 100 different thoughts flying around your head, bumping into each other and STRESSING YOU OUT!
I’m constantly thinking of what I need to do next, where the kids are, what I should eat for lunch, my next blog post and what I should be putting on instagram. And that’s just the start… it’s too much to process!
So my first productivity hack every solopreneur should know, is about emptying your mind of all those racing thoughts and to-do’s. Have somewhere (maybe a few places), where you can offload those thoughts and get rid. It might be a physical notebook or post-it, or I like to use the NOTES app on my phone, or maybe even send a little email to yourself.
Whichever way you choose, the main thing is to be able to get that thought out of your mind, to free up mental space and energy for the important stuff.
TIP: if you’re a night-time thinker, just keep a little notepad by your bed!
Productivity Hack 2 – Pick 3 things ONLY, to do per day
This was the game-changer for me! Rather than working directly from your brain-dump/”master to-do list” which probably has 30+ things on it, you need to reduce that down to just 3 things per day.
Prioritise what ACTUALLY needs to get done and pick those 3-things and stick to it. Don’t waiver, don’t procrastinate from them, don’t add a couple more… just stick to 3 and get them done. (I write about this in my post about beating overwhelm too).
Honestly, the mental relief and psychological impact it has when you tick-off those 3 things each day, will really set you up for a productive week and give you the right energy (rather than feeling overwhelmed and defeated before you’ve already started).
We’ll talk about what to do with those 3 things in the next 2 hacks!
Tip: If you get through those 3 things and have lots of time left, either a) treat yourself to a little reward like a fresh-air walk with a podcast, or a daytime bath OR b) pick one extra thing from your “master to-do list” and get that done too.
Productivity Hack 3 – Get a project management planner or tracker
For optimum time management and to be as productive as possible, it’s important to have some sort of project management planner – something that gives you an overview of everything you’ve got going on and when it needs to happen by.
Some prefer this to be physical eg. a daily/weekly/annual planner (I can’t recommend the Hello Day Planner enough). Some prefer this to be virtual eg. an app or online tool (I love Asana). Or if you’re like me, you might want to combine the two.
These planners give you a place to see an overview of everything you’ve got going on, everything you need to do and the deadlines… this then feeds into your “3 things”.
You want somewhere with a calendar so you can get a sense of your year, your month and then your week and day-to-day.
Your “brain-dump” or “master to-do list” should filter into this planner. The important stuff going in first, with a deadline and the less important stuff fitting around that. Honestly, of all the productivity hacks every solopreneur should know, I swear by this one and loads of my students now can’t live without their Hello Day Planners.
Productivity Hack 4 – Use your calendar to manage your time
Most of us solopreneurs are inherently busy right? Well, now you have your “3 things” to do each day and you have an overview of your projects, with deadlines, it’s important to filter these into your daily calendar to utilise the time you have effectively…
I recommend using a calendar that synchs with your phone, as it’s likely you’ll have that on you at all times!
You should allocate the time it will take for you to complete each of your 3 tasks and block out space in your diary, as you would a meeting or appointment. This will seriously impact your time management in a positive way!
I also recommend scheduling-in your personal/family commitments into the same diary, like you would a work meeting, so that you don’t find yourself running-out of time part way through the day, because you forgot it was your day to do the school-run, or you had a dentist appointment! I even schedule in time for lunch and my work-out… it gives me a really clear picture of my day/week and takes the thought out of it every day!
This productivity hack also helps you get good at saying “no” to unnecessary things/meetings/appointments, as you’ll be able to see when you truly don’t have the time.
Tip: get a shared calendar with your partner/family members so you can see who is doing what, where and when.
Productivity Hack 5 – Block out time for your inbox
That’s right! This’ll strike fear into all solopreneurs and busy-bees out there… but it’s such an important hack to maximise your productivity and time management.
Like we talked about in Hack 4, it’s important to schedule time into your daily diary to look at your emails.
If you’re anything like me (and all of my self-employed friends), you’ll get email notifications popping-off left, right and centre. They’re the first thing you look at in the morning (okay, after insta!) and the last thing you look at before bed. They interrupt conversations, work-flow and ultimately get in the way!
If you think about it, only a handful of the emails that you receive on a daily/weekly basis are ACTUALLY IMPORTANT and something that needs actioning. But we spend hours a day getting lost in a sea of emails and replies, which detracts us from actual productive work, creativity and money-making activities.
My recommendation to you? Block out an hour in the morning and then again in the afternoon to work on your emails – clear as many as you can, respond to the “urgent”s, send the pitches etc. and then CLOSE DOWN YOUR INBOX and TURN OFF YOUR NOTIFICATIONS!
Next level productivity for solopreneurs
There are so many other amazing productivity hacks that’ll help you manage your time, but to avoid overwhelm (which is what we’re trying to tackle here!), I’ve focussed on my top 5, that I truly believe will make a difference to you, quickly.
If you’re really looking for more, or you’ve implemented everything you’ve read in this guide successfully and are ready for some more, here’s a few extra bonuses:
- do the most important/boring/difficult task of the day first
- move in-person meetings to Zoom/Skype where you can
- try daily meditation
- make sure you exercise daily (even a walk round the block counts!)
- keep your phone in airplane mode whilst you’re getting your tasks done
- switch off social media notifications outside of your scheduled social-media time
- take regular breaks! (I recommend 5 minutes out of every hour at least!)
- pre-prepare your meals, to avoid the cooking time every day
Oh my goodness, there are so many more – I think I might have to write a Time Management and Productivity Hacks 2.0 guide!
The finale: last tidbits on productivity hacks for solopreneurs
There’s nothing like an accountability partner… or 100!
So why not share your time management and productivity progress on social media? Tell us how you’re getting on, what changes you’ve made and how it’s impacting your day-to-day life and digital wellness.
Tag me in your stories and use #EntrepreneursThatFlourish so I can see them and share. I love to know how you get on with these hacks!
And why not join the community, share your wins and keep in touch?!
The magic happens when you find your people. And we can all help support each other, raise each other up and inspire one another too!
If you are looking to develop a growth mindset in order to help you grow your business then I have tons of resources that are perfect for helping you to do this inside the Flourish membership. Click here if you would like to find out about how this community can support you on your business journey.