This is a business post by Ellie Jo.
If you’re a solopreneur who has been feeling the effects of the last year, you’re not alone. Even those who have been business owners for years have been feeling the negative effects of the pandemic.
Many people are feeling sluggish, foggy, and are struggling to find their motivation to continue. To a degree, this can be normal, no matter what is going on. We can’t always expect our energy to stay level throughout the year.
Wondering why we were able to do something easily months ago when we’re struggling so much now is futile. Energy levels can change for a number of reasons: the seasons, the quality of sleep you’re getting, the food you eat, how hydrated you are, hormones, and other things going on in your life.
Accepting that your energy will naturally ebb and flow is key to being kinder to yourself while still getting the important stuff done.
If you’d like to supercharge your productivity, read on for a few proven suggestions.
Pay Close Attention To What Works For You
Comparing yourself to other business owners is pointless. You are not them. You don’t have the same life experiences, personality, or DNA. It’s important to pay close attention to what works for you specifically, not anybody else. Somebody else may have no trouble getting up at the crack of dawn to go for a run and start work, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you can’t seem to do that.
Getting to know yourself is a must. Some people are more productive first thing in the morning, others in the afternoon when they have had a little time to themselves. Some even work better at night time, when the kids are in bed and everything is quiet.
Trying to balance your work/life balance can be tough, but that’s why you need to stay flexible and do what works for you, rather than what you think you should be doing. Look at some of the most successful entrepreneurs and business owners: some of their techniques for growth and productivity are hardly typical.
Steve Jobs used to soak his feet in the company toilets when he felt stressed. This probably isn’t the best (or most sanitary) idea, but you get the point. If you think something could work, even if it’s a bit unusual, just try it. You never know!
Use the 5 Minute Rule
We tend to put off tasks until it feels like we’re weighed down by the sheer weight of things that we haven’t got around to doing. The 5 minute rule can help you to get some of these tasks done and build up that momentum to get even more done. Once you’re on a roll, you’ll probably want to move on to bigger tasks!
The 5 minute rule is very simple: if you’ve been putting off a task that will take 5 minutes or less, just do it. Whether it’s writing an email, making your bed, or making a quick phone call, just get it done. A weight will lift and you’ll feel so much better for it.
This sort of goes against what other entrepreneurs say – those who say you should tackle the biggest, hardest task first thing in the morning. That’s a completely valid method too.
Getting the hardest thing done in the morning can give you a big hit of dopamine and make the rest of the day seem like a breeze in comparison. You can try both methods and see which suits you better. Just don’t kid yourself if you’re keeping yourself busy, but not productive. There’s a difference!
Plan Tasks Based On Your Energy Levels
Energy levels can vary greatly throughout the day. We’ve already touched on this, but it’s important. When you know when you are at your most alert, you can plan the most mentally taxing tasks. When you know you’re going to be a little less alert, you can plan some easier tasks. If you know you always get an energy dip in the afternoon, you could make sure you have only easy tasks to do from that point on. If that’s not possible, allow yourself a walk in the fresh air, or even a 20 minute nap to re-energize. Having techniques like this in your arsenal can help you to feel alert again and get on with the rest of your day. Just remember that the things you consume throughout the day can have a big impact on how hard you crash. If you drink a ton of coffee in the morning, you are going to feel worse when it wears off. Drinking more coffee in the afternoon to combat this could give you anxiety, and even keep you awake at night – automatically affecting your productivity the next day. Keep these things in mind!
Don’t Be Afraid To Outsource
A solopreneur must wear many hats. If you’re the kind of person who loves these challenges and has no problem with this, that’s great! However, you still need to be smart about the things you’d be better off outsourcing. Just because you can do something yourself doesn’t mean you should do it. For example, trying to take care of a complex marketing strategy to grow your business at the same time as running it will be extremely taxing, and will likely negatively impact the customer experience in one way or another. Can you honestly say you are capable of doing everything required of a marketing agency yourself, all while providing amazing customer service, and that personal touch that your customers love? If not, then make sure you’re prepared to outsource. You can also use software to automate tasks that you do every day.
Understand The Importance of Rest
Rest is key for productivity. You can’t beat yourself up for not feeling productive every day if you’re trying to burn the candle at both ends, or romanticizing ‘the grind’. You’re going to be far more productive when you’re strict with yourself. For example:
- Prioritize sleep. You want to thrive, not just survive.
- Take naps. Many business owners, past and present, swear by them.
- Take time off. Allocate at least one day to yourself each week where you do the bare minimum. Set boundaries!
- Have a set cut off time each day so you can separate work and your personal life. Don’t work past this cut off time.
- Don’t feel guilty for taking vacations.
When you take care of yourself like this and prioritize your rest, you will likely find that you perform better when you work. Working more hours does not necessarily mean you are being more productive. Get more done in less time and enjoy your rest. It’s possible!
Understand how distractions can impact your day and then figure out how you can minimize them. For example, if you automatically wake up and scroll social media, you may find that you feel distracted before the day has really begun. Be strict, and aim to get some real work done before you take a break and catch up on social. Only you know what your distractions are, and only you can put plans into place to keep them at bay.
Exercise In The Morning
Exercising in the morning can boost your energy and motivation for the day ahead, clearing any brain fog and helping you to feel ready for what’s in store. There are so many short and long term benefits of exercise. If you wait until you’re finished with your tasks before exercising, you might find you’re more likely to make an excuse!
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.