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9 Hacks for Getting the Most Out of Each Self-Employed Workday

9 Hacks for Getting the Most Out of Each Self-Employed Workday

Whether you work from home or have a thriving startup, there are many additional challenges that self-employed individuals face during a workday. For example, being your own boss means that you must keep yourself motivated at all times. To help you with this process, here are 9 hacks that can make each workday more productive.

1. Firmly Structure Your Day

As previously mentioned, remaining motivated can be very difficult for self-employed individuals. To help combat this problem, it is best to firmly structure each workday. Not only will this make it easier to hold yourself accountable but it will also make it possible to more accurately measure your productivity. As an added bonus, you will remove the anxiety of being unsure of what to expect throughout your day. By structuring everything, including when you will have phone meetings with clients or investors, you can feel more in control.

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2. Use Project Management Software to Track Everything

Some self-employed entrepreneurs believe that project management software is only practical for a large business, but this is absolutely not true. In fact, even creative individuals have begun turning to software to help them manage each of their projects. The advantage of taking this approach is that you will be able to easily track every aspect of your projects in one comprehensive dashboard. Some developers, including WorkFlowMax, have even begun adding integration options with dozens of popular add-ons such as Google Drive.

3. Block out Distractions with White Noise

Studies have shown that using ambient noise can increase creativity, so it is a good idea to invest in a quality white noise machine or app. However, you need to ensure that you choose a white noise that is pleasing to your ears instead of distracting. Some experts recommend using the Thunderspace or Ambiance app, but it may work better in the office to invest in a white noise machine that you can place inside or outside your door.

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4. Take Exercise Breaks

According to Harvard Health Publications, exercising on a regular basis will improve your mental sharpness, ability to concentrate and memory retention. Additionally, cortisol levels decline during the immediate aftermath of exercise, and this typically makes people feel less stressed. Therefore, taking a few 5-10 minute exercise breaks during your workday is a great way to make you healthier while simultaneously boosting your productivity.

5. Put a Social Media Blocker in Place

The average American spends 1.72 hours per day on social media sites, and much of this time happens while they are at work. To reduce this large amount of wasted time, you can install a social media blocker such as Work Mode  to help yourself resist the urge to check your Facebook news feed when you should be doing something more productive. Of course, you will need to turn the blocker off when you are using social media for legitimate work related reasons, but that’s another good reason to structure each day. For example, if you spend 30 minutes working on social selling each morning, you can turn the social media blocker on for the rest of the day afterwards.

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6. Give Yourself a Weekend

Are you tempted to work six or even seven days a week in the quest to get ahead? Doing this might seem like a good idea, but it’s actually going to reduce your overall productivity and creativity. The reality is that the human brain and body must have regular breaks in order to recharge, so you should give yourself two days off every week. Studies have also found productivity increases in workers who take a 30 minute exercise break during their workday, even though this reduces their work time by 6.25 percent. Another perk of giving yourself a weekend is that you can get personal tasks done on your off time instead of attempting to combine your professional and personal lives.

7. Carefully Choose Work Assignments

Do you have a client who is overly demanding and always trying to get something for nothing? Working with these individuals or other businesses may initially seem like a good idea because you want to boost your numbers, but the truth is that they will end up costing you more in lost opportunities and morale. With this in mind, it is best to carefully consider each work assignment or new client and give yourself permission to say no when necessary.

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8. Create an Environment that is Conducive to Work

Regardless of whether you have an office or work out of your home, it is vital to create an environment that will help you stay on task. Make sure you keep your daily supplies easily accessible, and place distractions out of view. A workplace productivity study determined that having a private and quiet work-space can make a worker 10 times more productive than their peers who deal with noise and a lack of privacy. This highlights just how important it is to build the right work-space to meet your specific needs.

9. Set a Start and Quit Time Each Day

Self-employed individuals are often looser with their hours, but this is not conducive to getting the most out of every day. Instead, part of your daily structure should include a specific start and end time. Sticking to these guidelines will keep your structure in place, and it will guarantee that you do not work too many hours per day. You will also find yourself being more productive when you need to hit deadlines within a predetermined time frame instead of giving yourself an open-ended quitting time.

By following these basic guidelines, you can achieve a higher level of productivity during each day without sacrificing your personal life. You can also take advantage of several bio-hacks to put your mind and body in the best possible state for remaining productive throughout the workday.

Featured photo credit: Victor Hanacek, Picjumbo via picjumbo.com

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Published on October 8, 2019

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

How to Advance Your Career (and the Big Mistakes You May be Making)

The late writer William S. Burroughs once said that “When you stop growing, you start dying.” It might have a morbid undertone, but it’s one hundred percent true in terms of one’s career.

The days of finding a job with one company that you can stick with for 30 years, and simply relax as you move up its company escalator are few and far between in today’s world. This isn’t necessarily bad news. On the contrary, it means that you’re the one in charge of shaping your career advancement.

By putting these principles and behaviors into practice, you’ll begin to see how to advance your career quickly. Ready? Let’s get started…

1. Define What Success Is for You

There’s no right or wrong definition of what success in your career looks like. The important thing is to figure out what success looks like for YOU. It might, and probably will, change along the way, but if you don’t have some sort of milestone on the horizon, then you won’t know which direction to go in.

Think about success in your career in terms of one year, five years, and 10 years. Once you have that, it’s time to lace up your boots and get to work.

2. Learn How to Develop and Follow a Plan

Nobody just stumbles upon success accidentally. Sure, they may stumble upon breakthroughs or new methods accidentally, but all success stories have one thing in common — a plan.

Establish a timeline for the things that you want to achieve in your career in the next year, five years, 10 years, and so on. Consider the skills that you’ll need to learn to make these things happen and work on acquiring them.

3. Surround Yourself With Those Better Than You

It’s a rule of thumb among musicians that if you want to get better, then you need to get out of the bedroom and play with people who are better than you.

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By surrounding yourself with people who are better than you and where you want to be, you’ll not only see how these people climbed to where they are in their respective fields, but you’ll learn from them and naturally want to push yourself to be better in your own job as well.

4. Seek Out a Mentor(s)

A mentor will not only be able to help you refine and reach your career goals, but will be invaluable in landing promotions and finding unadvertised job openings.

One unique approach is to work on fostering a relationship with a mentor both within and outside of your company. This will help in giving you different perspectives as you rise up through the ranks in your company and career overall.

5. Stop Wasting Your Mornings

You may not think you’re a morning person, but if you can learn to be one, you’ll thank yourself 10 years down the road.

Prepare a to-do list of tasks that you want to accomplish the day before and work on knocking them out for at least one hour before you respond to morning emails. The problem with responding to emails first, is you’re giving your attention to somebody else’s agenda, instead of plotting your own course for the day.

6. Arrange or Attend a Networking Party

If you’re attending networking events simply because you might get a few free drinks, you’re doing them wrong. These events are great for meeting new people and forming relationships. Your goal shouldn’t be to get hired by the end of the night, but to simply make a good impression by being friendly and authentic. So what’s next?

Reach out a few days later via email or on social media to follow up and connect!

7. Pick Up Some New Skills

Nobody wants to be the old dog that can’t learn any new tricks. To move up in your career, you’re going to likely need to pick up new skills along the way. Maybe your company offers on-the-job training or you have the option of taking online classes at night.

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By learning new skills, you’ll not only be able to expand upon what you can already do, but you’ll make yourself more valuable to your employer and future employers.

8. Exploit the Benefits Already at Your Disposal

Remember what we just said about the possibility of your company providing on-the-job training? Take advantage of these sorts of benefits!

If you’re working for a company that allows you to job shadow other employees or has company mixers, you should attend these. They not only allow you to develop your skills within the company, but show seasoned executives within your field that you’re interested in more than just clocking in for a paycheck.

9. Make Yourself Indispensable

Good help is hard to find and employers want to retain outstanding employees. If you can learn to make yourself indispensable to your company, you’ll not only communicate that you’re successful, but will have a lot more job security. What’s this entail though?

It’s actually not all that difficult. By being reliable, adapting to new challenges, and holding your own work and performance to a high standard, you’ll stand out among your peers and others will take notice. Easy enough, right?

10. Get Off the Fence

People who advance in their careers are those who don’t shy away from voicing their opinion and stand up with authority when the opportunity arises.

If a problem arises in your company and you think you might have a solution or are willing to work to find one, then let others know. Employers value and promote problem solvers. Start off with something small and work your way up towards tackling more difficult tasks and projects.

11. Don’t Wait for More Responsibility, Ask for It

If you want more responsibility in your job, then be open about it with your manager. Your manager may be so busy with their own work that they weren’t aware you were looking for more challenges.

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Just make sure you can handle it and that you already show strong performance in your current duties. And if your manager doesn’t seem supportive about offering you more responsibility, well, then it could be time to look for new employment.

12. Stop Wasting Time on What You Don’t Want

If your career goals start with “I should do this…” there could be a problem. This kind of language in referring to goals can doom them to failure because the want isn’t there.

Consider using the RUMBA method (Reasonable, Understandable, Measurable, Behavioral and Agreed) when setting your goals. That “agreed” part should really be “want.” By going after career goals that you actually want to accomplish, you’re much more likely to achieve them.

13. Seek Out Feedback and Apply It

Simply doing your job might not always push you up in your career advancement. Too often, employees just assume that their bosses will notice their performance strides and reach out when the time is right to advance.

Don’t be afraid to regularly seek out feedback and ask for constructive criticism. It not only shows that you value your manager’s opinion but demonstrates that you care about your job and want to become better in your chosen field.

14. Pick Your Bosses Wisely

Advancing in your career can move a lot quicker if you’re working for the right people. If your boss isn’t any good at their job or doesn’t value you, then moving up could become difficult.

A great boss though, will be able to help you capitalize on your strengths and be an advocate for your success. If there aren’t any strong developers of talent in your management chain already, then look around for some and seek them out as mentors.

15. Learn to Develop Your Sense of Timing

The odds of asking for a promotion or raise are in your favor with over 70 percent of respondents to a survey from PayScale reporting some success. One thing to keep in mind that can make all the difference is when you ask.

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Some corporate cultures may prefer that employees reach out about advancement during their annual review, but maybe you work for a more free-spirited startup. The best approach may be to take note of when others advance and ask about how the organization handles employee development.

16. Work Hard and Promote Yourself

Working hard and delivering a solid job performance are the keys to advancing in your career no matter what field you’re in. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely humble about your accomplishments either.

Keep a record of your positive impact within the organization and let others both within your company and your field know that you’re enthusiastic about your role and work.

17. Don’t Just Build Your Network… Cultivate It

It’s way too easy to add new people to your LinkedIn network and then forget about them for all eternity. Rather than just collecting business cards or social media contacts, you should be cultivating relationships with the ones you already have.

Follow up with people that you haven’t spoken to in a while, offer to connect them with somebody you know in their field, or ask about a new job title they may have taken on. Doing so could be the spark that leads to a potential job referral.

18. Join a Professional Organization

The National Association of (insert your industry here) and other professional organizations can still offer a great wealth of advantages from networking to industry insights, and skill development.

Even outside of professional organizations dedicated to particular job fields, civic organizations can also be fantastic for making new contacts. After all, so much about career advancement is who you know, and you never know who you’ll meet who knows somebody else who is looking for someone with your skills and experience.

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Featured photo credit: JESHOOTS.COM via unsplash.com

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