The funny thing, is that I really didn’t anticipate this. I figured that after I went full-time I’d be at least double as productive – I had no idea I could even possibly be less productive than when I was working full-time and running my business as a side hustle. That’s crazy talk, right?
From talking to my most successful full-time webreneur peeps, I’m the norm, not the exception. It still boggles my mind, so I thought I’d tell you about a three rules of thumb that I’m tried to implement in order to force myself to be more focused and productive.
1. Don’t Check Email Right Away
This isn’t probably new news, but I had myself convinced that I was the exception to this rule. That by checking my email before I left the house for the day, I was more productive, as I was taking this distracted time to organize my day and define what was important to me.
Totally wrong. I was right in that I can’t be 100% focused on work when I get up, drink my cup of coffee and have my two littles on my lap, trying to swipe at my laptop. I thought that if I checked email, I was still being effective, because I was working while still being semi-present with my kids.
Boy was I wrong! Here’s the thing, I continued to organize my day until I had gotten through all of my email. So that means, that I would develop new to do’s that might trump the actual important ones that were already on my list.
And oftentimes, I would find myself continuing to check email first thing after I started my focused work for the day. And herein lies the problem! Instead of getting started on the most important tasks for the day, I allowed myself to continue to get distracted by new email, as well as social media – because I had Twitter notifications of new followers and the like to get back to. No bueno!
2. Use the Pomodoro Technique
One of the things that I did to turn this around, was to start implementing the Pomodoro technique again. The philosophy behind this, is that as humans we can only really work and focus for about 90 minutes at a time. Therefore, it makes sense to break up our day into smaller, but more focused periods.
To do this, try focusing on work for 25 minutes and then take a five minute break. You can therefore break up your day into a certain number of pomodoro sessions. For me, if I worked six consecutive hours, this would be 12 pomodoros.
If I had 12 pomodoros to work with, then I knew I could try and segment my tasks into these 25 minute hyper-focused work sessions. I’d heard about the Pomodoro technique before I went full-time (and tried it), but didn’t keep up with it. It’s a great idea and is really effective when you put it into practice. I urge you to give it a try, if you haven’t already, to see what you think for yourself.
3. Do the Hard Things First
This is a hard one for me. I don’t like to do the hard things first! I’d rather do the easy things first! Weird as it sounds, writing fits under the “hard things” category.
Writing should be my primary activity, being that I’m a freelance writer. But writing takes a lot of creative energy, so sometimes it’s the last thing that I actually want to do.
I’m being completely honest here – you wouldn’t think it’s the truth, but it absolutely is. Other times, my writing and thoughts flow and it’s super easy for me to put pen to paper or have a couple thousand words suddenly appear on the page. This is more of the exception, rather than the rule though!
So for me, it makes sense for me to write right away. To get started writing my articles and blog posts as soon as possible in the morning. When I do this (and turn off email/social media), I find that I’m more effective.
So why wouldn’t I do it all of the time? Because sometimes I’d rather do the “fun” or “easy” stuff, like connecting with other writers via social media. Even if it’s not the popular answer, it is the honest truth!
What You Should Take Away from This
I hope you’re reading this post and seeing that I’m human and just like anyone else. I struggle – with time management, being productive and even writing at times. I get caught up with thinking that I’m important and with email that seems urgent, but really isn’t.
It’s hard to be a full-time webpreneur or just self-employed in general. It takes a lot of focus, a lot of discipline and a lot of determination. I’ve got it all in spades – just not all of the time or all at once. I struggle, just like anyone else, and I thought you’d benefit from reading how.
My plan is to keep pressing on – forward. To do whatever it takes to succeed. To take the bad days or hard days with the good or easy ones. I know that one of the keys of succeeding is perseverance. And I plan on being here for the long haul!
How about you? Are you ready to give it what it takes? Day in and day out?