This seems obvious, but if you are going to manage multiple projects, you need to have a clear picture of what you are managing, and what you need to complete each day in order to reach your end goal. Each day when I get to the office, I make a list of the tasks I need to complete, and I make sure to write the end goal in the title or somewhere on the piece of paper (or half crumpled napkin) I’m using to make the list. This practice extends to my home office where, for example, instead of writing “Upload new listings” on the list titled “Honeycomb Mosaic Vintage” I’ll write, “Help business double by uploading new listings” on the list titled “Honeycomb Mosaic Vintage Growth!” That helps me have a clear idea of the road ahead. The tasks on the list seem less daunting because they are paving that road. If the list method does not ring your bell, try keeping a calendar. I use the calendar method for my blog. Since I am a visual person, and a blog is partially a visual experience, having my posts planned out on a calendar works a whole lot better, in that case, than making lists!
2. Set deadlines for yourself (and keep them!)
As a small business owner, you are working for yourself and you are the face of your business. If you do not keep your own deadlines, how do you expect clients to trust you with their deadlines? I understand exactly how difficult keeping and meeting deadlines can be. When you work from home, life especially gets in the way. If you are finding yourself wanting to break a deadline that you set, try weighing the pros and cons. Will this lead to you breaking a deadline later? Is someone else going to be impacted? Will your profits take a hit? Is it worth the possible risk? These thoughts usually kick my butt back in front of the computer, but if you’re still having trouble…
3. Find a constant source of motivation
Different people work very different ways, but if you’re anything like me, you need to find a whole host of motivation in order to stay ahead of yourself. The way I draw the most motivation is to celebrate the small victories. Using the previous example of making sure I’ve uploaded new listings to my vintage store, I may reward myself by baking (with a good show on in the background!) The more daunting the task, the more attractive the reward. If this method does not work well, you can always search the web for motivational images, or ask a friend to give you a pep talk. I even find calling a friend (or my mother) and telling them what I’m going to do that day is helpful for me getting it done. It leaves me accountable to someone other than myself, which I honestly need some days!
4. Create a functional work place
If your work space is functional, then you will go far. Knowing where you can easily find extra staples, paper clips, or that receipt from five months ago will help you stay on task. Imagine this scenario: you’ve been working on a project that you are so motivated to do. You’re sending e-mails, kicking ass and taking names. You go to print something out and… no ink. You know you have a spare cartridge, but you cannot for the life of you remember where you put it! You must stop what you are doing to search for the cartridge. Once you find it, 10 minutes later, you have removed your mind from the task at hand. You have to rework yourself into the project and, oh no, all that motivation, evaporated. Staying organized (even if it looks like chaos) will help you avoid possible productivity slumps.
5. Make appointments with yourself
Yes, you read that correctly. Make an appointment with yourself! Take yourself to lunch, catch up on Netflix, take a mycology seminar, or spend time with your family. This is your appointment with yourself, and they are the most important of any you might have. Do not let work run your life, you run your life. Get a good night sleep, and don’t fall behind in your relationships outside of your business. Keeping these things in check helps you be the best you, and conduct yourself in the best manner possible.
Meet Ali Whittemore
Ali Whittemore is a small business owner making a home in the heart of dixie. Her girlfriend describes her as a 'cat lady, who might actually be a cat cleverly disguised in a human suit'. Ali describes herself as a proud student of life who loves comic books and is always down for a true crime marathon. She shares everything she has to offer over on her blog, Whittemore Writes. Stop by for great photography, delicious food, and the musings of an over worked 20 something.