Solopreneurs – Find What Works for YOU for Productivity and Run Your Business, Don't Let it Run You!
There are soooo many tips out there all saying they have the secrets, magic, or right way for people, especially entrepreneurs, to be oh so very productive in their business. Maybe you've heard of or tried: miracle mornings, journaling, “leveling up” (what is this, a Nintendo game?!), color coding your calendars to your chakra levels, freezing cold showers to wake up, getting up at 4:30 am to get it all done in the quiet before mere mortals rise. No wonder people then need cold showers, they've fallen back asleep by 8am! 😁 I'm a night owl, and 4:30 am is literally the middle of my night – that tip is never ever going to work for me. But it might for you. The point is you need to find the tips and tools that work for YOU.
That said, while researching and preparing for a presentation to give to a meeting of awesome solopreneurs (my pals at AIIP), I came across some tips that could be almost universal, or at least up the odds that you'll find some here that are your productivity sweet spot. And of course in my presentation I talk tools – the apps, software, or gear I've checked out (maybe reviewed in other publications and presentations) and what I am personally using. People ask me why I keep researching apps and tools – 1) because I search for the holy grail of the perfect solopreneur tool(s), 2) because what appeals and works best for me might not be best for YOU.
Find your productivity sweet spot and focus on what moves your business forward profitably and with more ease.
A few tips and my presentation will be shared here too:
Some good articles I ready were eye-opening about how we approach productivity, procrastination, and time management wrong. Productivity – according to research and the article in the NY Times from Adam Grant – is an attention management issue, not a time-management one. And in Forbes, former productivity expert Chris Winfield talks about quitting the field and saying “productivity is shit.” I love when someone calls B.S. on a thing that everyone else seems afraid to go against! We keep trying tips and hacks to do more in less time, and keep cramming ever more into each day. Stop!
“We actually put ourselves in a very precarious situation. One problem, one unexpected roadblock in the day, and the whole day is ruined. And sadly that's the case of many entrepreneurs. “
Focus on the money tasks first – do you know what your most valuable tasks are?
- Can this task be done by someone else – or just you? Be honest here! If you were a NY Times best-selling author, writing is clearly a valuable task only you could do. If you're a coach, then coaching your clients is your highest value task.
- Does this task make you money? Will it lead to income in the short or long term? Fussing over logos and colors on your website are not money tasks. Changing out your social media headers – not a money task. A lot of social media is not an immediate, money-making task. Sending emails to your list – money task.
- Are you energized by the task? Does it use creativity and brainpower? Is it strategic?
More basic productivity ideas – suggestions since they may not be your sweet spot:
- Two-minute rule – if a task will take less than 2 min to do, just DO IT right now already! Whether it’s refilling Rx, shooting off quick email answer, calling to make an appointment – don’t put it off.
- Don't neglect self-care. You need sleep, exercise, getting outside, saying hydrated. And you need to actually plan it. Try a set break time during the day – not just lunch! Maybe you go get a tea or latte at 2:30, or walk around the block at 3pm. Schedule it in your calendar.
- Try a productivity ‘cheat day' – like some diets offer. Productivity ‘cheat days’ give yourself permission for one day (maybe 1 per month, on what would ordinarily be a work day) to do ‘all the things you aren’t “supposed” to do if you’re trying to be really productive.’ Most Americans are seriously overworked [2017 Enterprise Rent-a-Car study of 1,000 people, 7 in 10 said they worked at least 1 weekend/month, equivalent to a full work day] and we aren't actually productive at paces like that! This is kind of like diet/eating ‘cheat days’ – you’re great and on-target 6 days, 1 day you do whatever you want. Cheat days give us fuel and motivation for rest of the time
- Set goals – SMART goals – for your business, for marketing your business – breaking up into quarters, by month.
- Go with your natural rhythms – if you're a morning or night person. I'm a night owl, do doubt. This NBC News article spoke to me – about when we try routines and they fail because they go against our nature.
“setting routines and bedtimes … I fail when I try it myself. Daytime me says “Go to bed earlier! Try exercising in the morning!” But when the time comes, inevitably nighttime me says “Oooh, there’s something to read on the internet!” And when I wake up, morning me says, forcefully: “Go back to sleep.”
Some of the tools recommended in my presentation – tools/apps I use:
- Pomodoro technique
- Fantastical calendar app
- BLAB – Book Like a Boss – my scheduling app. Want to chat further about this – solopreneur pals can grab a 30-minute virtual coffee chat with me.
- Docusign or Hellosign – electronically signing contracts, agreements, proposals with clients
- The whole GSuite of tools – Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs, Forms, etc
- Pocket, Feedly, Flipboard – where my news gets aggregated to read in one place, and easy to share to social media from
- LastPass – my secure password manager – love that now it lets me share my passwords no matter where I log in from – phone, tablet, laptop.
- Noord VPN – secure, fits all the parameters for security and no-tracking for a VPN, and I got a good deal via StackSocial.
- my travel charger kit – I keep a roll-up kit in my backpack with spare charger cords for everything – no hunting the house last minute before travel
– folks wanted pictures and links to the physical. essential gear I showed off during my talk]
- SanDisk SSD – after failures of backup drives that spin, need power (and these all WILL fail at some point), I started keeping everything on an external, 480GB Solid State Drive, connected to my computer by inexpensive USB adapter. It goes wherever I go. Light, silent, nothing to break or fail. (and since prices have fallen by HALF since I bought mine – there's no reason you can't go grab one, including the SanDisk SDSSDA-480G-G26 model I own plus its USB 3.0 to SSD cable from Sabrent)
- My beloved Logitech C920 external webcam (there are newer versions, I prefer my older one as it has a superior Zeiss lens) with crisp 1080 HD pics and a universal tripod screw-mount. I keep it on my old Joby Gorillapod tripod 95% of the time.
- When I talked traveling with backup cords and plugs, someone asked me about for international travel. For an overseas trip last year I picked up this Pac2Go Universal Travel Adapter – and described it like a swiss-army knife of travel plugs. It was awesome – including ability to plug in to the USB port for direct charging, no wasting key plug spot for mobile devices(there were questions if it could handle odd, non-standard plugs/outlets from Africa and Asia – according to this quote it can “at home in cities like London, Paris, Singapore or Dubai as well as the European, African, American or Asia back roads.“)
- I literally do not leave home without my travel cord kit – it rolls up and has elastic bands, slots, and 2 zipper pouches to keep snug my extra cords, USB connectors, memory cards, and assorted travel goodies. I was tired of rounding up cables and charger from around the home and office before every trip – leaving something at home, not being able to charge some device (like my camera, or Fitbit). So I got the roll-up kit and a back-up copy of all essential charging devices. I keep a dual port USB charger (like this one from Aukey – have an Aukey, iClever and Anker ones at home) plus a spare single charger that came with some Apple device. The roll-up cord kit lives in my backup – ALWAYS. [I've given away a version of my travel kit at 3 different events + 2 to family members – if you can't find the one I linked to, I found one under $10 at Staples that I gave away at AIIP19; Target sometimes carries one <$10, especially at the holidays. just search for ‘travel cord organizer']
Books to check out:
Do check back as I may add more info on the tools.
I put a lot of the tools – with descriptions, pricing, and links in this Google Doc that's shareable.
My presentation on productivity tips and top tools – for my AIIP pals
Whole presentation done in Canva, presented live in Canva 😮
By now you know I get geeky and excited when sharing about cool tools and apps that can make work or life easier. If you want more recommendations like this on a regular basis – get my Mighty Marketing Mojo emails and my Social Tools Guide gift.
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