When I first quit my job to focus on my content marketing business full-time, I was obsessed with productivity practices.
For the first time in my life, no one was telling me where to be and when. No one was telling me what to do either. I finally had the freedom and the opportunity to do whatever I wanted with my days.
On the one hand, this was awesome. On the other hand, I needed to get this business going and as a result needed to get some work done.
As you gain more experience with running a business, productivity practices become easier because you know what works for you and what doesn’t. However, in the beginning, it’s like a free for all. You’re likely confused because you went from having a lot of structure to not having any at all.
If you’re a relatively new business owner, or if productivity just isn’t your jam, here are five productivity practices to try as you figure stuff out.
Throw the idea of “normal” work hours out the window.
The first step in finding productivity practices that work for you is to realize that there’s nothing “normal” about running a business – especially in the beginning.
There is no nine to five. Sometimes it’s 8 to 6. Sometimes you don’t even start until noon. Sometimes you work on weekends (I actually really dig working on Sundays).
One of my biggest issues when I quit my job was feeling guilty about when I “should” be working versus when I “shouldn’t” be working. This was based on the 9 to 5 paradigm where you work five days a week and take weekends off. This is a hard one to break because most of the world operates this way and we’ve been taught where to be and when since we were in pre-school.
Let’s be real, though. The beginning stages of your business is like having a newborn child. You’re likely working all the time. And that’s okay because it’s only temporary.
With that being said, get this idea of “normal” out of your mind. It will give you a lot more freedom as you figure out what productivity practices work for you.
Batch similar tasks together.
Batching is one of my favorite productivity practices. While I don’t need to abide by it as much anymore, I still use it and it was definitely a saving grace back in the day.
The premise of batching is pretty simple. You block out a set period of time to perform similar tasks.
For example, I usually only write on Sundays. Reason being that none is blowing up my email or expecting a response from me over the weekend. I may also use this time to work on the content for a digital course. The point is I’m only doing content creation during this set period of time.
As for meetings, unless I’m shifting gears in my business, I usually only take them on on Tuesdays and Thursdays, This means all my meetings for the week occur on these two days.
There are a couple of reasons why batching works well for people. The first is the idea of momentum. Often times you just need to start something in order to keep it going. The second is because it’s easier to stay motivated with a similar task than it is to switch gears toward something different (Though sometimes I’ll shift gears if I feel like my brain needs a break).
Work based on your energy levels.
Sometimes it’s easier to go with your natural energy levels than it is to force yourself into certain work hours. In fact, this is one of the productivity practices I would swear by when I first quit my job.
For example, when I first quit my job to work for myself full-time I was anything but a morning person. In a lot of ways, I’m still not. However, I knew I had a lot of energy from 10am until around 2pm. This meant that this was my time for doing the heavy lifting in my business. Meetings could wait until the afternoon when I didn’t need or have as much energy.
Working based on your energy levels works on a weekly basis too. I’m usually friend by Fridays so I don’t do any client work that day. Instead, I focus on my brand or other creative projects because that’s what I’m likely in the mood for.
Find a project management system that works for you.
Back when I first quit my job, I didn’t have a team or an online project management system. Quite frankly my brain and my business weren’t there yet. While having a project management system helps me tremendously now, it would have likely been a hinderance back then because I would have spent my time trying to learn a new system instead of getting work done.
With that being said, that’s why one of my favorite productivity practices is just using good old pen and paper to keep track of stuff. Yes, you heard right, an online business owner who loves tech is telling you to use pen and paper.
Not only that, but find a system that actually works for you. For some people that system is a Bullet Journal. For others, it’s mind maps. For me personally, I just need a basic planner where I can write stuff down and see the week ahead.
Find an accountability buddy.
An accountability buddy was one of the best productivity practices I had back in the day. We’d get together in the morning via Skype to talk about what we needed to get done that day. We’d also give each other feedback and advice.
This was helpful because – even though I wanted to run a business so I wouldn’t have to answer to anybody – I still felt like I needed to at least tell someone what I was doing in order to actually get something done. Besides, an accountability buddy isn’t like having a boss so my authority issues wouldn’t come out.
When you’re a new business owner, you may need to try your hand at several different productivity practices in order to find what kind of work flow is most beneficial for you. Don’t be afraid to try some of these or find others you feel may work for you.