One of the biggest challenges when being your own boss, is the fact that you need to completely organize yourself. Nobody is telling you what to do and when to do it. It’s all in your own head.
Most of being successful as a freelancer or entrepreneur comes down to being self-organized and having good work habits. The better your habits, the more you can get done and the better your bottom line.
So, in the interest of your personal business success, in this article we will look at essential habits of successful entrepreneurs, freelancers and other creatives, and how transferring these habits to a 9 to 5 salaried job can benefit you forever.
What Successful Business Execs, Entrepreneurs, and Freelancers Do Differently
Ready to reach the next level in business? The habits below will help you be more productive and successful in the long run.
Studies have shown over and over again that multitasking is a myth. In fact, those that swear by doing several things at once are often the worst at it.
The human brain is simply not made to do more than one thing. When you try, it actually switches between tasks instead of doing both simultaneously. Multitasking is a waste of energy and responsible for more nervous breakdowns than crashing WordPress websites.
For that reason, one of the most important work habits to adopt is to only do one task at a time. Concentrating fully on a single task will transform the way you work, I promise.
Develop Routines and Processes
That big and beautiful brain inside of your head, is a CPU. Although yes, many powerful CPUs can process tons of information very fast, there is still an intricate linear process. You might be surprised to hear that all of us only have a limited amount of willpower and self-control at our disposal every day. The more decisions we have to make, the more our pool of mental capacity is reduced (what is also referred to as ego depletion). Once that happens, it’s hard to be disciplined and effective.
For that reason, it’s best to find ways to preserve willpower so you can use it to get the important stuff done. One way of doing so is to establish routines and habits.
The more routine a task is, the less you have to think about it. That way, it doesn’t drain your inner resources and you can use them for the more important decisions.
This is the reason why people like Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg always wear the same outfit. It’s one less thing to think about.
For that reason, figure out how you can eliminate unnecessary decisions from your workflow by setting up routines. Anything that lets you get into the groove easily and get stuff done without thinking about it.
While I am not a pro at decision fatigue, the process I have stuck to as my morning office ritual has prevented me from making errors that used to push back my deliverables every day.
Distractions are the enemy of productivity (BeyondPhilosophy). Yet, unfortunately our complex world is full of them. Smartphones, emails, coworkers, family members–everyone seems hellbent on keeping us from getting stuff done.
In addition to that, once we are at our main workstation, we have to deal with the temptation of everything the internet has to offer. Memes, podcasts, social sites — willpower drainers everywhere. Consequently, eliminating as many of these distractions as possible is another habit for freelance and business success.
One of my favorite strategies in this regard is to choose something I can do that does NOT require my phone, and pleasantly leave it on the charger. It literally can be a walk across the office to speak to a colleague, or a step outside for some fresh air.
Willingly leaving your phone, a.k.a. the ultimate distractor, in different places away from you, can lead to an ultimate shift in your mood and efficiency.
Track Your Time
Especially in the beginning of self-employment, it can be difficult to estimate how long different tasks will take. Most of the time, we actually underestimate the effort involved, so let’s not go do that route any longer.
One way to address this is to take your original estimated time frame and add half on top of it again. This will get you closer to the actual time it will probably take you.
Secondly, to get better at estimating these things in the future, it’s a good idea to track your time. One of my favorite tools for that is Toggl. It’s browser based, easy to use, and will send you weekly summary emails so you know what you’ve been doing. Tracking your time will also let you figure out your hourly pay.
Get Plenty of Rest
This topic is something my wife would be thrilled to hear me write about. To do high-quality work, you also need some top-notch downtime. Albert Einstein reportedly tried to get at least ten hours of sleep every night. Other high performers also religiously covet their bedtimes.
You and I are no different. We also need to get enough rest in order to keep at peak productivity.
One of the best ways to make sure you get enough sleep (and most difficult for me) is to establish set bedtimes. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
However, it’s also important to take breaks during the day. A good way to ensure this is to work in sprints, as popularized by the pomodoro technique.
Here’s how it works. Set a timer for 25 minutes and do just one task during that time until completion or until the timer goes off. Then, when the time is up, get up from your desk and do something else for five minutes. Rinse and repeat four times and then take a longer break.
This way, you get your mind out of the work frame and are able to come back refreshed. Trust me, it works. I’m actually doing this while writing this very article. I needed to adopt something that made sense for me in office, because as creative as I am, I can spend loads of time doing things that don’t move the needle. Earlier, we spoke about distractions, and my mind is truly the most distracting on its own. With this method, I am able to refer to my daily routine on how I execute things, and ultimately, I am much more pleasant to work with than I was previously.
At least I hope so. 😃
David Butler is Creative Lead at Verb, and ever since the beginning of his creative career, has always been a freelance artist. When not building websites, creating content or documenting memories for clients, he can most often be found playing PS4, traveling with his wife and daughter, or training in different creative skills.