When people find out I am a freelancer, or when they ask me how my freelance work is going, 95% of the time they will shake their heads and say,
I couldn't do what you do. I just don't have the discipline to work from home and be my own boss.
As I have mentioned before, I think that my own ability to have discipline as a freelancer is a combination of this is simply the type of person that I am, as well as the carry-over from my university days and part-time freelancing days, as well as my experience blogging and getting my diploma as a Certified Holistic Nutritionist while working a full-time job, plus my work in public relations and the non-profit industry.
Tied together, all of these make an excellent formula for being a very disciplined person in the workplace.
But just because I am able to stay focused on work and be productive when I'm my own boss working from home overall, that doesn't mean that every day it's easy-peasy for me to do so. And without a doubt, there are always going to be more ways that we can improve in the area of being more productive and being more disciplined as freelancers or home-based business owners!
When I recently began doing the Elite Blog Academy (a fantastic course!), I began to realize that I wasn't as disciplined as I could be. In fact, there were multiple days in a row when I would sit down at my computer, look at my list of things to do, and wonder where exactly I should begin.
I was trying to juggle my regular blogging with the Elite Blog Academy, as well as my regular ongoing freelance work with finding new gigs and doing administrative duties and communication tasks for my business.
It's not as though the above wasn't doable... but it was certainly a challenge to figure out what should get priority, and how to best manage my time.
So, after that very lengthy introduction to this post, without further ado, here are my top three steps to achieving discipline when YOU are your own boss: my best tips for how to stay productive when you work from home...
1) Identify your tasks and your best time of day.
What are all of the tasks that you need to do? What are tasks that you might have to do? Write down everything you can think of, and lump tasks together where possible (for example, under "Prep Blog Posts," I might also include writing / editing blog posts, doing photo shoots, brainstorming new blog post ideas, working on social media marketing, etc.).
Your best time of day is really your most focused, productive time of day. For me, that's first thing in the morning. My energy levels dip for a couple hours somewhere in the afternoon, and then they start climbing again in the evening.
Once you know when your best time of day is, look back at that list of tasks. Which of these could you theoretically do at any time of day? Which of the items on that list are you better at completing efficiently and effectively at your peak time of day? Asking yourself these questions will help you with Step #2.
Your best time of day is really your most focused, productive time of day. #productivitytip
2) Create a weekly to-do list.
Creating a schedule was something that I was loathe to do for many weeks. My schedule changes so much, so fast, that I didn't see any point in having a daily schedule---which is part of the reason why I wasn't being as productive as I could have been.
I tried to create a schedule, but I found that there were too many contributing factors which might get in the way of it. That doesn't mean I'm never going to try it out, of course; I really like the idea of having a set schedule, but it just doesn't work for me right now.
Instead, I have a weekly to-do list. I purchased a pad of sticky notes from Tiny Feast which has the weekdays marked on them, and every week I write down the different tasks that I need to do each day. I stick the note to my desk right by my computer, and I usually get the next week started on the pad of paper so that I always have two weeks going at a time.
This works great for me, because I can see my main tasks all laid out for a full two weeks. I can also prioritize them by highlighting tasks which need to be completed ASAP. By doing this, I know which tasks I should do during my peak hours of the day.
3) Prepare for your day in the morning and the evening.
This is fundamental to ensuring your system works and you set yourself up for success. Every morning, review your tasks, check what you need to get done, and highlight as needed. You can also write down a goal for yourself to achieve by the end of the day, or a mantra to repeat to yourself throughout the day.
Every evening, tidy up your workspace, review your plan for the following day, and get anything else in order that you need to. And deal with those emails that have piled up!
Obviously, this three-step system isn't perfect. You might have an appointment or a meeting in the middle of the day that threatens to derail your work plan... but that's why you aren't setting up a rigid schedule every day! If you aren't able to get things done earlier in the day due to anything from a lunch meeting to a social event to a personal appointment, you can just focus on that task later in the day.
What do you do to achieve discipline when you are your own boss or you work from home? What is your biggest challenge when it comes to being productive? What do you think of the above three-step strategy, and do you have a different system that works well for you? Share on Twitter or Instagram and tag me, @Saganlives, so we can continue the discussion!