'Eat a Live Frog' and Other Productivity Habits for Solopreneurs
Solopreneurs are a unique breed. More than just freelancers, they embody an entrepreneurial spirit that drives their business success.
As a result, they face the same challenges as entrepreneurs but lack the benefits that come with a team of employees, preferring to tackle many tasks on their own. The most successful have developed a unique set of productivity habits that help them overcome these challenges.
If you are a solopreneur, make these same habits part of your daily routine to turn challenges into opportunities and vault your personal and business success to even greater heights.
1. Eat a Live Frog Every Morning
Mark Twain humorously admonished, "Eat a live frog every morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day."
Translated into a productivity mindset, that means thinking of the worst task you have on your to-do list and tackling it first.
A tough task can become a roadblock that hinders productivity, a problem of particular significance to a solopreneur. After all, you have no one to delegate the task to but yourself.
With that distasteful task weighing on your mind, you may find it easy to procrastinate, preferring to check email, scan your Facebook news feed, or read the latest news.
Instead, get in the "frog-eating" habit, and you will gain a sense of accomplishment first thing that can help carry you through the rest of your less-challenging tasks.
2. Practice Kaizen to Make Small Changes Continually
"Kaizen" is a Japanese word that means "constant, continual improvement." It's also a business philosophy, often used in manufacturing that involves making small, gradual changes continually to improve product quality and consistency.
But Kaizen isn't just limited to manufacturing. As a solopreneur, you can also implement the concept. Start by asking yourself, "What small step can I take today to make what I do better?"
Let's say you want to rise an hour earlier each morning to get a head start on your work day. Rather than set your alarm for the full hour, set it for five minutes the first day, and then graduate incrementally at five- or ten-minute intervals until you reach your goal.
Another example: You decide to reorganize your filing system, to reduce the time it takes to find documents you may need. Instead of trying to do it all in one sitting (on top of all the other tasks you undoubtedly have to get done), just do a little each day.
Employing the Kaizen method of breaking down whatever you want to accomplish into small steps can make change feel much more manageable and remove the mental blocks holding you back.
3. Disconnect from Email and Social Media
Constantly checking email or social media feeds is a definite productivity killer. Whether the motivation is to relieve boredom, a desire for human interaction (albeit virtual), or fear of missing out, becoming more productive requires that you break the habit.
One way to do that, particularly when you have a project that requires your full attention, is to disconnect—merely log out of your email platform and social network profiles altogether. Also, turn off notifications as they provide a nonstop source of temptation you may find too hard to resist.
Another is to apply Kaizen: In lieu of repeated checking, set a timer and check in only when it rings. Start by allowing yourself more frequent interruptions, and then wean yourself to fewer and fewer.
While such self-discipline is easier said than done, it's one less distraction that will pay off in higher productivity.
4. Save Time with the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method that uses a kitchen timer to break tasks into intervals (typically 25 minutes) separated by short breaks. Francesco Cirillo, a software entrepreneur, developed the concept in the 1980s to improve focus.
The technique is simple, yet effective. All you need is a kitchen timer. (Cirillo used a tomato-shaped timer, which became the inspiration for the name—"pomodoro" is Italian for "tomato"—but you can use this virtual version.)
Identify a task you need to get done, set the timer, work on the task and take a short break when the timer rings. After four "pomodoros," take a longer break (15-30 minutes). This practice will help you train your brain to focus for short periods and boost concentration and attention-span.
There are so many productivity methods out there, and what works for you may vary. When you're trying to succeed as a solopreneur, what it's really about is being intentional with how you're spending your limited time and energy to make sure you're maximizing what you can do.