The biggest obstacle facing any entrepreneur is simple: time. How to make time, where to take time, and how to put the time you do have to its best use. This is especially tricky for the solo entrepreneur, where sometimes it can feel like there needs to be ten of you just to get it all done—and still have time for, you know, your life. The truth is, learning to use your time well isn’t just about getting your work done. It’s also about reserving the space and resources to live your life.
If you’re feeling like days are starting to blend into each other without accomplishing much, then maybe it’s time to revisit how you manage your time. I know it’s counterintuitive, but sometimes spending time to organize your time pays off in the long run. Knowing what to prioritize and when can make a huge difference in reaching your business goals.
We’re not very self-aware of how we spend our days. Most of the time they just...happen. And even though things like time tracking or project management aren’t glamorous they are part of being a good business owner. So let’s take a look at a few simple habits you can develop and free productivity tools you can use to project manage your work and life.
Daily habits to improve your time management skills:
Audit Your Time - This is step one to time management—you’ve got to understand how you currently spend your time. Take a cold, honest look at screen time, how much time you spend getting ready for work, or how much time you waste by hitting that snooze button. An initial assessment can help clarify where you're losing the most time to distraction.
Click Do Not Disturb - We love that dopamine rush that comes with getting a text message or a new follower on social media, but now it’s time to embrace the ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature on your phone and computer. Even better if you place your phone in a far far away corner of your home. Don’t give in to temptation, and set aside certain times when you’re allowed to aimlessly scroll. You know, just so you can scratch that itch.
Acknowledge Your Peak Productivity Times - All of us have hours in the day when we tend to be most productive. Those are the times when a flow state comes naturally to us, and finding our focus seems effortless. Know what hours are your most productive and plan your days according to that. It’s not worth getting frustrated with yourself after a big meal at lunchtime.
The 5-minute Rule - There are some tasks that are much more anxiety-inducing in our own minds than in real life. Whether it’s writing an article or doing an online workout class it’s worth following the 5-minute rule. It’s pretty simple, just tell yourself you’ll do it for 5-minutes, and if the task seems excruciating, give yourself permission to stop. You’ll often find that once you get started you can keep going.
Build Your Own Reward System - Sometimes the only we can get a difficult task done is by knowing we’ll get something else we want in return. So maybe next time you do your taxes, you reward yourself with a nice long massage. The return has to worthwhile and you have to keep true to your word.
Plan Your Days - You can use some of the tools below to help you manage your day, but even if you don’t like project management tools at least start each and every day with a handwritten list of what you want to accomplish. It’s very important to determine what needs to be done and when.
Ask For Help When In Need - Just because your running a business alone doesn’t mean you have to do everything solo. If there’s a task that needs to be done that you either don’t know how to do or hate doing then ask for help. You can reach out to your community of friends and family, or if possible, outsource to an expert to get it done as quickly as possible.
Perfect Is The Enemy of Good - As a solopreneur, you’re likely being a perfectionist about a lot of things that don’t need to be perfect. Yes, it’s your business, it’s your baby but rereading the same email 10 times when you’ve got 30 other emails to write is not a good way to spend your time. No doubt some things need to be perfect, but you’ve got to determine what those are.
Less is More - If you’re starting out a new business or side gig you’ll most likely feel tempted to say yes to everything. Yes to new clients, free services, random meetings, etc. While this might make sense when you’re starting from scratch, you’ll quickly find that too many months of ‘yes’ will burn you out. Focus on what’s going to bring you the most bang for the buck now.
Here are some of our favorite free time management tools:
Notion is a highly flexible and visually pleasing project management tool. Build workflows, checklists, graphs, and spreadsheets all in one place. While the product is easy to use, there’s a bit of a learning curve, so check out their pre-made templates to get started.
Trello is a great way to organize your projects into boards using Kanban-style lists. Projects will fit into ‘to-do’, ‘doing’ or ‘done’ boards, making you feel nice and accomplished when you finally get those tasks across to done.
Clockify is a user-friendly time tracker you can use to get granular information about where you spend your time. With an easy start and stop button, it’s easy to start tracking. And you can also get time reports with weekly analytics showing what projects you’ve focused on.
Forest is a productivity app that helps you stay off your phone. You can also use it in your personal life to help keep you focused on being present. For every added task, a virtual seed is planted and grows into a tree. Users can even earn credits this way and plant real trees with those credits.
Other free productivity tools that will save you time in the long run:
Evernote is the easiest way to keep track of your online research and resources. Save web clipping to one place, add notes, create tags, and organize all of your digital information.
Loom is the perfect solution for anyone who’d rather send a video message instead of typing something up. Whether you’d like to share your screen with collaborators or present something to clients, Loom will make it quick and painless.
Calendly is the calendar integration you never knew you needed. If your business or side hustle requires you to be in meetings all day, save time by integrating your calendar with Calendly and connect with contacts seamlessly.
Shift is the best way to integrate several email accounts, google calendars, drives, and messaging apps all into one place. No need to keep logging in and out to multiple accounts or apps.
By now you’ve got a good grasp on what habits and tools can help you find your focus and do what you need to do to get sh*t done. Remember that the most precious thing you have is time. And that’s not just as a solo entrepreneur, but as a person. Don’t waste it.
Want to discuss your solopreneur business concept or side hustle with a Subkit business expert? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org now and we’ll help you on your entrepreneurship journey.