As a self-employed professional, your livelihood can depend upon your ability to manage your business—and your time. I know many solopreneurs and small business owners who admit to struggling with that.
Procrastination and distraction can both destroy your best intentions.
In my five years as a solopreneur, I’ve paid close attention to what helps me stay organized and productive.
Here are a few tips that have helped me—I hope they might help you, too.
- Don’t let to dos pile up.
Procrastinating to pay bills, log payment info, reconcile bank statements, and file paperwork can leave you with an overwhelming pile to deal with. By tackling tasks like these at least once weekly, you can avoid having to do them all in one marathon session down the road. And it’s far easier to keep everything organized when you have a lesser volume of stuff to sort through.
- Plan your work.
If you don’t, tasks will fall through the cracks. Guaranteed.
When you’ve got multiple clients and multiple projects to tend to, your memory can only take you so far. By scheduling time on your calendar for work assignments and other “to dos,” you can better ensure you’ll accomplish what you need to and meet deadlines with greater ease.
Bonus tip: Besides your known responsibilities, also schedule what I call “wiggle room” into your schedule. The unexpected (projects that require more time than you estimated, a phone call from a new prospect, technology issues, etc.) can—and occasionally will—happen. By having some buffer time built into your day, you help insure yourself against the havoc wreaked by unplanned demands on your time.
- Use a combination of old-school tools and technology.
Apps like Evernote, Trello, Google Calendar, etc. can help you keep track of important notes, meetings, and to dos. But don’t dismiss good old-fashioned gadgets such as white boards, desk calendars, and spiral notebooks as viable organizational tools. Sometimes there’s no school like old school for staying on track and kickstarting creativity.
Don’t leave your productivity to chance. With the long list of responsibilities that come with running your own business, you can’t afford to be disorganized. Expect that it may take some time to master keeping all your ducks in a row. But the more you make good organizational practices a part of your business M.O., the easier—and more naturally—you’ll stay on track going forward.