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5 Productivity Tips for the Self Employed

Working from home may be the Holy Grail of working life for many, but those who live it as a reality can profess to the curses of procrastination, mixing business with pleasure (i.e. washing the dishes whilst trying to make a work phone call!) and never quite feeling like you’re not in work mode.

Developing an effective working environment is essential to getting the most out of your business. And aside from taking advantage of great support systems like our document templates packages, there are plenty of ways to hone your home into a well-oiled productivity machine!

1. Keep regular office hours
Easier said than done, we know! You can’t always know what the work day has in store for you, but you can at least attempt to create a routine on which to base it. Regular working hours – 9 to 5, 10 to 6, 7 to 7, whatever suits your business – can be an exceptionally productive asset.

2. Schedule blocks of time for email catchup, admin, cleaning the office, etc.
The Pomodoro technique is a great way for solo workers to work and break effectively. Wikipedia defines this process of working in time blocks as follows:
a) Make a list of tasks and select the first one.
b) Set a timer to 25 minutes.
c) Work on the task for 25 minutes until the timer sounds, when you should assess how far you’ve got.
d) Take a 5 minute break, then either continue with the task or move on to the next one.
e) After every four blocks of time (“pomodoros”) take a longer break of 15-20 minutes.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re filing legal forms, brainstorming or cleaning the office windows, scheduling tasks can help keep up productivity by breaking down large jobs into smaller, more manageable tasks.

3. Create a clear social policy
Do you need to block social media websites to keep your cursor from clicking over to that Facebook tab every five minutes? Is it possible to make 11:00-14:00 critical working hours, when no family are permitted to wander in asking for some sticky tape?

4. Measure twice, cut once
You may have plenty of copies of that business agreement template, but that’s not to say you can afford to waste time on elementary issues like misspelling. Learn to work at a pace that encourages productivity but allows for the minimum number of mistakes. After all, it’s you who’ll have to amend those mistakes further down the line. It’s better to take a few extra minutes to proofread a document than to handle a customer complaint about incorrect content in the future.

5. Be a productive sleeper
We left the best tip until last, and it’s sure to be the most popular! Every freelancer, small business owner and sole trader is guilty of burning the candle at both ends from time to time, and according to Harvard Medical School, that unbalanced sleep cycle could be impairing your mood, judgement, motivation and perception.
Get into a regular sleep pattern to teach your body when it’s time to work and when to rest.

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