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7 Surprising Productivity Tips for Self-Employed Entrepreneurs

By:     Topics: Entrepreneurship

No schedules. No meetings. No commute.

As an entrepreneur, you don’t have to worry about the conventional productivity traps.

But minus the 9-to-5 workday and an uptight manager breathing down your neck, it becomes absolutely essential that you master the art of self-discipline and make the most of your work time.

How to Be Surprisingly Productive

(1) Spend More Time Playing

One of the reasons why I love entrepreneurship is that it allows people to spend more time doing what they truly love.

That’s the theory, at least.

But if you let your never-ending to-do list weigh on your conscience, you may start thinking and acting in a way that lets real life slip through the cracks.

This ultimately hinders your ability to be productive, because you work better when you’re happier.

Work Hard, Play Hard

I recommend that you take at least one day off every week where you don’t allow yourself to even think about getting work done – then schedule that day to be jam packed with your favorite activities (i.e. hiking, jet-skiing, or spending quality time with a significant other).

By dedicating time each week to doing things that you truly enjoy, it will be much easier focus on the menial aspects of your industry.

(2) Take Lots of Breaks

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.

– Ovid

There’s nothing more important to your success than your commitment to working hard. But you’re not a machine (and even machines need to cool down every once and a while).

It’s more productive to work effectively and efficiently for 45 minutes than it is to spin your wheels for an hour. So it’s important to perceive when your mind or body is starting to feel overloaded – and give yourself permission to recharge.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Break Even More than Most

Entrepreneurs don’t just work within systems. They must create new systems.

They don’t just solve problems. They must anticipate and avoid them.

In other words, entrepreneurs are challenged daily not just to work hard, but also think hard – tactically, creatively, and laterally. Since entrepreneurs ask so much from their brains, it’s especially important that they allow them to rest throughout the day.

The Pomodoro Technique

One way to fit breaks into your work day is by using the Pomodoro Technique, which became popular with computer programmers in the late 1980’s. Wikipedia identifies the method’s five simple steps:

  1. decide on the task to be done
  2. set the pomodoro (timer) to 25 minutes
  3. work on the task until the timer rings; record with an x
  4. take a short break (5 minutes)
  5. every four “pomodoros” take a longer break (15–20 minutes)

Though the method calls for a timer that you wind up manually, there’s a ton of free software out there that can help people get in pomodoro mode on their computer. One Google Chrome application actually blocks you from accessing distracting websites while you’re in 25 minute work zone (Strict Pomodoro).

(3) Expand Your Work Environment

As human beings, we are remarkably perceptive of our surroundings.

Our mood flows from the space we occupy. A clean, streamlined space can empower you to think and act with clear focus. A cluttered, loud, or crowded workspace can transform you into a distracted and unfocused version of yourself.

You’re probably already aware of the importance of having the ultimate workspace. But our environment is more than just four walls and a desk.

Listening Environment

Sound waves are vibrating around us at all times. While silence is golden, the right soundtrack can get your mind focused and your body moving – which will make you more energized to work.

Try out this 8tracks playlist of 30 instrumental tracks. It was designed to help people study, but I find it’s a great companion for the focused entrepreneur.

Smelling Environment

Smell is so powerfully linked to our memories that one whiff of a familiar odor can instantly whisk us back to a day that we thought we’d forgotten long ago.

So how can somebody use the smell-memory link to become more productive?

Try buying a candle or box of incense. Put it in your work space and light it only when you’re ready to put in some hard work.

Your mind will begin to associate that aroma with those productive memories. Once you’ve established the connection, then you can light the candle or incense whenever you want to trigger your mind to buckle down.

Thinking Environment

When you’re solving problems and communicating messages, all of the hard work is taking place in your brain. So if you want to be efficient in that space, you must keep your mind like a good desk: open and uncluttered.

It’s a good practice to take 20 minutes each morning to sit and clear your mind. You may never silence your stream of consciousness completely, but you will cultivate a mental calm that you can carry with you for the rest of the day.

(4) Do Things the Slow Way

Measure twice, cut once.

– English Proverb

Productivity is more marathon than 100-yard-dash.

Like runners sprinting out of the starter gates, we often think that we can maximize productivity by doing things as quickly as possible. But hurrying through tasks can cause frustration and unnecessary mistakes, which leads to more work in the long run.

So take a breath and take your time.

Learn How to Do it Right

Self-education will make you a fortune.

– Jim Rohn

When your job asks you to accomplish an unfamiliar task, it’s tempting to think, “I don’t have time to research this. I’m just going to wing it.”

But usually it’s more productive to take the half-hour and learn how to do your job better or more efficiently. The Internet is like a classroom that’s always open and full of free lessons – take advantage!

How to Make Slow Work for You

Try setting aside 20 minutes every day to get a better or more efficient in your niche. Since I make videos for a living, I usually watch a video tutorial or become better acquainted with time-saving Photoshop shortcut commands.

You can check out these IncomeDiary tutorials that will help you be more productive making money online:

(5) Get Less Connected

Man has been struggling to clear his mind and focus since the dawn of time.

But focusing has become more difficult than ever since the dawn of StumbleUpon, Facebook, and YouTube.

If your work doesn’t require you’re connected to the Internet, then disconnect from the network until the project is complete. You might be surprise by how much more powerful your computer can be without the web.

A Tool to Help You Disconnect

If you need the internet, but want to stay away from certain distracting sites, try StayFocusd (it’s a Google chrome extension that blocks distracting sites from your browser).

(6) Sleep More

Every entrepreneur has been guilty of burning the candle at both ends. But working late into the night only to wake up early in the morning can have a seriously negative impact on your work performance.

According to Harvard Medical School, inadequate sleep affects your mood, motivation, judgment, and perception – and I can’t think of four things that are more important to the day-to-day success of an entrepreneur.

Furthermore, since deep sleep is when your brain processes the prior day’s experience, shortchanging sleep can prevent you from learning and moving forward on your entrepreneurial journey.

How to Be a Productive Sleeper

Getting into a consistent sleep rhythm helps your mind and body to understand when it’s time to work and when it’s time to rest.

So, take a few moments right now and think about your ideal, eight-hour sleep schedule. Write it down.

Stick with that schedule for the next seven days and tell me if you don’t notice an improvement in your daily productivity. Your body and your business will thank you.

(7) Think of Productivity as a Cycle

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing… that’s why we recommend it daily.

– Zig Ziglar

Productivity isn’t a faucet that we can turn on and off at will.

You shouldn’t expect to sit down at your desk, turn a knob in your mind, and immediately become super-productive.

Think of productivity as a process that you’re taking part in throughout your day. It’s part of the way you eat, the way you run errands, and the way you unwind.

Once you begin maximizing your productivity, you’ll find that it becomes easier and easier to be productive day in and day out. Just like any other habit, being productive is a cycle that tends to repeat.

The Power of Productivity

He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.

– Lao Tzu

As an entrepreneur, you are the engine of your business. Everything – growth, client acquisition, revenue – depends on your ability to produce, day in and day out.

In other words, there’s a direct relationship between your productivity and the success of your company. Become twice as productive and you’ll soon be making twice as much money.

The Simple Joy of Being Productive

The idle man does not know what it is to enjoy rest.

– Albert Einstein

Being productive isn’t just important because it allows us to create more valuable, successful, and profitable businesses.

A productive day earns an entrepreneur a sense of contentment that no amount of money can buy.

Rejoice in a job well done – then get back up tomorrow and do it again.

If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.

– Bruce Lee

Your Personal Productivity Technique?

Since effective productivity habits are different for everybody, I would appreciate it if you shared any tips you’ve uncovered in the comment section below.

Images Courtesy of

http://www.flickr.com/photos/orcmid/http://www.flickr.com/photos/becca/,

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/sadikot/http://www.flickr.com/photos/neilspicys/,

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/http://www.flickr.com/photos/janlendl/,

 http://www.flickr.com/photos/npmeijer/http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevensnodgrass/5548193945/.

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