It’s becoming increasingly common for millennials to decide that they just aren’t cut out for that nine-to-five, corporate America, subordinate, rule-following type of lifestyle. They tried out that daily grind, it definitely wasn’t for them, and now they’re determined to become a successful entrepreneur instead.
There are plenty of reasons why we’re motivated to find success as an entrepreneur: The freedom of being your own boss can’t be beat, you get to work whatever hours you please, you can work from home, you can take vacations when you please, you don’t have to tailor your life to someone else’s schedule and rules – and you really don’t have to answer to anyone.
To secure that entrepreneurial success, you may need to keep your lousy day job for a while, and work on your side-business after work and on weekends. It’s not really recommended to quit your day job until your side business starts picking up enough steam that it could feasibly be a full-time gig. What this means, though, is that you’ll have limited time to work on your entrepreneurial goals.
You’ll need to find ways to maximize your free time. Try to be as productive as possible during the finite number of hours per week that are available for these important, goal-oriented endeavors. To help you out, here are 7 productivity tips that will help you hustle and achieve success as an entrepreneur faster and easier:
1. Hire help
It’s cheaper than you think to hire someone to help you with your business endeavors. Plenty of freshly-graduated, eager young adults are willing to work for cheap because they just need the experience (and they’re hoping for a letter of reference, to help them get a real job later on.) Sites like UpWork help you find administrative assistants, social media managers, writers, editors and ghostwriters for affordable fees. Ghostwriters are particularly helpful, because whether you need an ‘about us’ paragraph written for your website, or an article written to promote your services, they’ll send you something – and you’ll have fun changing things around and perfecting their work – and this process will save you a ton of time compared to writing it from scratch yourself. The best part? The content will be in your name, and you’ll own all the rights to it – as long as you have them sign a ghostwriting contract. Without a contract in place, ghostwriting can be risky.
2. Find another entrepreneur who you can be accountable to
Many of us simply aren’t accountable to ourselves. For example, if you tell yourself you’ll go to the gym at 8:00 pm, when 8:00 pm rolls around might not feel like going – and you won’t go. But if you made plans with a friend to meet at the gym at 8:00 pm, you’ll go. The same goes for working in the evenings. If you make plans with a friend who also has entrepreneurial goals, to meet at a coffee shop and work, you’ll go. You’ll go because you feel accountable to that person, and you feel obligated to follow through. Many of us are not accountable to the rules we set for ourselves, but we find that we’re very accountable to others.
3. Find natural ways to boost your energy
When you’re just starting out, building your business or website requires a lot of work, and it can be tough when you’re feeling low-energy. Here are some natural remedies to get more energy. These include exercising, drinking a green juice and eating kiwis. Exercise, for example, releases endorphins which boost your energy, and you’ll up your energy even more if you exercise outside, as the fresh air wakes up your mind and body.
4. Get out of the house
Sometimes, when you find yourself staring at your laptop and not getting any work done, it’s because you need a change of environment. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to get work done at home, and just couldn’t, but as soon as I switched locations (by walking to a coffee shop) I got a ton of work done. The biggest mistake you can make is sitting on the couch, with your laptop in your lap. First of all, it’s not good for your back or your posture to sit on the couch for extended periods of time. Second of all, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you won’t turn the TV on. Just get out of the house and focus on your work away from the distractions of home life.
5. Take short breaks
Taking a break can reenergize you, and contribute to your productivity. These breaks, however, should be controlled, and for specific periods of time. Tell yourself that you’ll watch one episode of Orange is the new Black and get back to work. Or, go for a walk to get an energy-boosting smoothie and then enjoy it while you read a few pages of your favourite magazine, and then get back to work. You need these breaks, that’s for sure, but you can’t let a break turn into you being done working for the day or get caught up in a Netflix binge. If you need those Netflix binges in your life, set aside Sunday evenings for that. This way, you’ll have something to look forward to – like a reward – which might help you get tons of work done on Sunday afternoons.
6. Stay sober and clear-headed
Sometimes, when I go out for dinner with a friend, I feel slightly pressured to join her when she orders a cocktail or two. However, I’d much rather stay sober so that I can go home and write after our dinner. I never open my laptop to work unless I’m sober. So, I had to learn to kindly decline offers of alcohol when out if I knew that I wanted to get work done later. At the end of the day, my friends understand. Their preference might not be to be the only one at the table drinking, but they deal. I also try to avoid drama, or fights. I’d rather not have my head clouded with the stress of an argument when I want to get work done. Being clear-headed is key to productivity.
7. Prioritize and don’t put things off
Write a to-do list for the next day each night. Better yet, schedule your to-do list in your phone, with the most important things prioritized. When you receive an e-mail, reply right away. Don’t decide you’ll reply later, because you might forget. Get an app like Boomerang which allows you to reply to an e-mail as soon as you read it, but schedule it for when you’d like the recipient to receive it. I often reply to e-mails at 3:00 in the morning, but I don’t want my clients to know I replied at that time, which is why I love Boomerang for letting me schedule it to be sent at 9:00 the next morning. This tip also prevents my e-mails from getting lost, since Boomerang is sending the e-mail during the recipient’s work hours, when they’re at their computer.
8. Get free advice by joining mastermind groups
A mastermind group is an online group of like-minded individuals who chat on a regular basis to help each other achieve their aspirations or goals. For a first-time entrepreneurs, joining a mastermind group can be extremely helpful. These groups are a wealth of information, and members will help you quickly find answers to your questions. You’ll also get recommendations on the best tools and processes that have successfully helped others in the group. Meetup.com is a great platform to meet like-minded entrepreneurs to form a group with. The more knowledge you have access to, the more productive you’ll become, because the more you know what you’re doing, the faster you’ll be able to get it done.
By Erica Gordon