Cracking the Whip: Keeping Yourself on Task
Being an entrepreneur means freedom from the oppression of management, bureaucracy and other people’s schedules. It’s also one of the most difficult jobs in the world precisely because of all of that freedom. You might find yourself struggling to remain on task and motivated without a corporate overlord putting the spurs to you. Common sense goes a long way when budgeting your own time, but these extra tips might make motivation inspiration and productivity come naturally instead of seeming like an uphill battle.
There’s a ton of productivity-enhancing software available for freelancers, entrepreneurs, artists and other self-starters. There are a ton of apps for computers and smartphones that do a ton of work for you: Teux Deux for to-do lists, Toggl easily tracks all of the time you spend on various tasks and Subernova keeps track of invoices and deadlines. The internet itself is an amazing tool for entrepreneurs, but it can also be a huge waste of time. Apps like Rescue Time make sure that you can only access distraction websites for a certain amount of time each workday.
Keep Regular Hours
Just because you’re not working on someone else’s clock doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t set your own. Set a specific time during the day to get your work done—and make sure it’s a time of day that makes you happy and lends itself to productivity. After all, most night owls don’t do their best thinking at 7:30am. Regular hours will make sure that you stick to your schedule and don’t succumb to procrastination. The schedule itself should be easy to stick to during a regular work day, but you need to remember to block off time slots for certain tasks. You set your own hours, and once you start keeping to them you’ll be productive and happy on a regular basis.
Take a Break
Having your eyes glued to a monitor, hang glued to a pencil or your ears glued to a phone for an entire workday isn’t healthy. It’s taxing both mentally and physically. The monotonous nature of some tasks both entrepreneurial and artistic all but ensures a nervous breakdown if you don’t give yourself some time off. Take a walk, call an old friend or spend some time with the family pet. Break work down into smaller, focused periods and give your senses some much needed rest for a few minutes a day. Overworking yourself only guarantees that you’ll dread future artistic and business pursuits– and that the work you actually get done will be of much lower quality.
Carve Out a Space
You need a separate studio or office space for work, something that is totally divorced from your home life. Whether that means renting an actual office or just setting up a card table in the garage is up to you. A relatively clean, clutter free work space that has no ties to your domestic routine will make sure that you don’t cave in to bad habits and distractions. Artists are not always the most organized people, but do your best to make sure you’re not drowning in a chaotic mess. Your work space is a designated area dedicated entirely to productivity and accomplishing your goals, both entrepreneurial and artistic. It should not be cluttered and full of distractions.
Mind Your Health
Even geniuses and billionaires require sleep and food. Sometimes your workload and deadlines will require extra hours, which will either infringe upon your sleeping time or force you to skip a meal. The thing is: this cannot turn into a habit. Even the best and the brightest feel cruddy after a sleepless night. Hunger and exhaustion lead to sickness, and even on their own they lower productivity. Besides sleeping and eating healthy, devote some time each week to exercise and visit the doctor when needed. Beyond that, devote some time to your non-work related hobbies or other activities you actually enjoy. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.
Think About the Future
Considering what lies ahead doesn’t mean overly stressing yourself out about money and deadlines. Instead, it means concentrate on your end goal. Why are you trying to make a career out of your art? What do you want? If you work hard and keep it together, that much coveted future is all yours. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s something on which you need to concentrate. Picture yourself at a dream gallery opening or being interviewed in a publication you admire. The work you’re doing now is your road to the future, so keep the end goal in sight.
This one is obvious—if you’re not enthusiastic about what you’re doing, you’re going to procrastinate. There will always be mundane tasks in your work day, but they should not be the tasks you’re expending too much mental energy on. You’re only going to be really driven to do great work and stay on task when you’re excited about the project. And if you’re not excited and invested in this, why are you doing it? There will be boring stuff in between the things you’re passionate about, so focus on how they’ll actually benefit you while you’re powering through them. After all, results are exciting. This is your future, and you’re paving the way with your passion, artistic talent, great ideas and hark work—get pumped up about it.
There will always be stress in the world of an entrepreneurial artist–whether it’s related to money, deadlines, client complaints or an unforeseen problem depends on the day. Once you learn to focus on necessary tasks you’ll be accomplishing goals faster than you set them.
Author bio: Adam Farwell is an online publisher for the custom T shirts creator bluecotton.com. He enjoys blogging about design, business, marketing and creative projects.