There’s a lot of advice on the web for entrepreneurs. I know, I’ve probably read most of it. Do this or that; don’t do this, don’t do that. Well, a lot of it is bologna but some of it is pure Kobe beef. Here’s what works for me: make your bed, getting into a routine and separation.
Make Your Bed
This will make my mother proud. I try really hard to make my bed every morning. First thing. Listen to Admiral McRaven talk to recent graduates from Austin. (Note: they probably really need these kind of motivational tips often. Gig ‘Em Aggies)
I’ve got my own thoughts on making your bed that add to the Admiral’s. Sure, I enjoy the nicety of a made bed and the satisfaction of being able to complete that task. In a day full of working on 3D models and sorting out vendors and suppliers, making my bed is often the only thing I can complete. But there’s more to it than that.
It’s the start of my routine. A lot of people will bemoan the fact that you need to be up at dawn and working until sunset. No doubt about it, sometimes that’s the case. A more sustainable approach is to have a routine. Most small businesses start as a service. You consult, using your laptop and your brain, from your couch. 7am-7-pm or 9 at night to 4 in the morning – start a routine and stick with it. I don’t think you have to practice solo violin for six hours per day to become a professional, but just make your bed and then, just as importantly, get dressed. Whether it’s in the morning or your workday starts when the moon shines, make your bed and then get dressed.
My routine is to get up and make the bed followed by getting dressed. After that I like to enjoy a few cups of coffee while I wade through all of the social media aspects in my life. This is usually when I’m learning about a new technique in Fusion 360 or checking out the latest design highlights from @designandlive.
The importance of getting dressed isn’t so clear if you still have a 9 to 5 job. Of course you get dressed. You polish, iron and brush your way towards perfection. When you work from home.. Those sweatpants beckon. No shoes, no shirt, no problem. Thanks Kenny Chesney.
Once I got settled down into the basis of a routine, the next thing I learned was to separate. What do I mean? Get dressed and leave your bedroom. Don’t work in bed! Go to a desk, a table a coffee bar – anything! This separation will help your brain make the connection that you are going to work. You can take this to another level too. Go to lunch meetings, leave your house like a normal person would. Not having planned and programmed lunches was probably the largest shock I had when starting to work from home. Once I captured that thought I started to integrate separation into my routine and it really helped me to become more productive.
Lastly, a rewards scheme. When you’re the boss there’s no one to tell you that you did a great job. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get a reward! When I’m able to stick to my routine I like to do something nice for myself. Maybe a Friday happy hour. Rewards are good but what probably works even better is a punishment. It stings the most when you punish yourself for not sticking to your goals. Scrap the happy hour and throw in a few more hours of web design. That’ll teach you.
Sorry, I don’t have 12 productivity tips for a more successful you! All I’ve got are a few simple things that I do to keep myself on track. If you’re an entrepreneur, especially one with a few years under your belt, post a comment with some of your tips for the new guys!