One of the hardest things, and largest shifts you will find when you work for yourself, is the discipline that you now need to engage. Its so easy to find yourself checking emails every 20 minutes, sat staring at Facebook and Twitter thinking what should I say, do I really have time to get to the gym today. As well as build my company, sell my products, develop and deliver the products, be the book keeper and still have a great social life.
After all, you wanted to go it alone so you truly was the boss, right?
For many years I struggled with scheduling my day, I was up late working, getting out of bed late, pondering what I needed to do, and then before I knew it, 8pm was here, and nothing had really been achieved. Then that vicious cycle starts, each day, week, and month turn in to a blur, and before you know it 6 months has passed and Im not really any further forward. That lost feeling creeps in, and you start wondering what the hell you have done, you probably spend some time googling the meaning of life, wondering what jobs are available to match your skill set, and maybe this all entrepreneur stuff wasn’t made for you. RELAX, most have been there, and chances are, you’ll go there several times again.
The biggest reason this doubt, this feeling of being lost occurs, is you have no direction.
Sure at first you’re full of drive, full of energy and excitement, but sooner or later that doubt finds a way to attack you. So, why does this happen?
Well, firstly you need to remember that when you worked for someone else, you had a schedule, you had to be at the office at a set time, you left at a set time, and your day was pretty much run by set times. If you are a sales person, you probably had the first two days of the week making appointments, and the rest was visiting those appointments. If you’re a manager you most likely had a meeting procedure that you carried out each day, you had deadlines and targets. But now, for the first time, you’re the boss, you set you own schedule, and you decide what you do and don’t do.
So what went wrong?
The first thing you need is to be sure you have a schedule, which most people don’t, I certainly didn’t at first.
So for example my day now looks something like this:
Wake up at 5:30am,
I have breakfast, then spend 15 minutes reading, followed by a further 15 minutes of email responses.
I then either hit the gym or workout on cardio from home,
after that I do 10-12 minutes of mediation (This helps to clear the mind from all the fuzz), after this I will tackle my list of activities due to be done today (I write this the previous night), then I hit the shower.
And all this before 8:30pm has even occurred, so you still have plenty of time to get the kids to school.
Now, research suggests that your brain is at its peak approx 2.5 to 4 hours after waking, so this means you are hitting the office at the peak of your capacity, be sure to use this time wisely. I like to split up the day in to ‘Morning’, ‘Midday’, and ‘Evening’ and ensure you schedule breaks in between those slots too. The longer you have been awake, the more self-control problems occur. i.e diets are broken in the evening, not the morning.
Be sure to have you tasks ready to make the most from your day, I like to write a list of tasks that need to be done, then I rewrite that list in terms of priority (but financial priority). Don’t move on to the next task until the first one is done.
So let me summaries this is 3 simple tips.
1. Write your ‘To Do List’ the night before:
This not only gives you a head start for tomorrow, but actually helps you get things off your mind, and helps you relax for the evening.
You need to relax, no matter how much you love what you’re doing, relaxation is important.
Research says that the least effective relaxation/stress relief activities are:
Gambling, Shopping, Smoking, Drinking, Eating, Playing Video games, Surfing the net, and Watching TV.
But the best relaxation/stress relief activities are:
Playing Sports, Attending religious Services, Praying, Reading, Listening to Music, Spending Time with Friends or Family, Getting a Massage, Walking, Yoga, Meditating, or Creative Hobbies.
I”m sure you can find something out of the list that’s fun for you.
2. Get up before the sun
The idea of getting up at 5:00 – 5:30am for most, sounds unbearable, and totally impossible. But let me tell you after you have done it, the feeling is blissful, enchanting and just an amazing feeling. Especially when you can reflect upon your day and see how productive your morning has been.
Most people complain that they don’t have enough time to do everything they need to do, then spend the first 3 hours of the day laid in bed.
Twitter founder Jack Dorsey works a full 8 hour day at two separate companies, he spends 8 hours at Twitter, then spends a further 8 hours working at his new payment startup Square. Dorsey says that it takes massive amounts of discipline but managers because of his tight schedule.
By the way, Jack Dorsey is worth $2.7 billion USD, he doesn’t have any more time than you or I, but choses to use it wisely.
3. Don’t waste your peak on menial tasks
Rather than spending those peak hours after waking (as mentioned above 2.5 – 4 hours waking is peak brain capacity) on things such as meetings or conference calls, use them wisely. Spend this time on real productivity, things that make a difference to your life and business.
Adjust your schedule around your lifestyle, but be sure to have a schedule, or you may find yourself falling foul of that lost feeling again.
One last thing, oh yeah what about the tiredness that occurs from early starts and late finishes?.
You don’t get tired when you’re on a mission and with a purpose, you need to be dragged away from it. If you find yourself getting tired, then you need to lift your goals and targets, give yourself something to really stretch for, and if the worst comes to the worst, grab a nap on your lunch break.