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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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Last Updated on October 18, 2018

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

Things go wrong when you run your own business.

Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

  • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
  • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
  • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

The Bottom Line

Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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