We had our first meeting this week, and, being the generally pretty generous person I am, I thought I'd share some of the tips I shared with him with you.
Our topic this week was how to efficiently structure your work day and task lists when you work for yourself:
- Have a task list. Make sure it's accessible from anywhere (technology can be your friend here). But keep it manageable. 150 items is overwhelming. If that IS the length of your task list, you need to create some sub-lists (like "order office supplies" goes on your To Do list, while the specific supplies you need to order live on a separate list).
- Learn to delegate (assuming you have someone you can delegate to). And when you delegate, really delegate. If the person had to come back to you to confirm all choices and decisions, you didn't actually give them the authority and responsibility for the task. Learn to let go. You don't have to do everything yourself.
- Pay attention to when you are most productive. There is no right time to do stuff - only the time that's right for you. Everyone makes a big deal about being up at 5 am and being super-productive before the sun comes up, as if that's the only way to be Bullshit. If your best hours are from 9 pm to midnight, do your most intense work then.
- Pay attention to where you are most productive. Some people like to have a defined office space with a desk and a chair and a computer and a phone. Some people are more comfortable on their porch or their couch or their dining room table or in the coffee shop down the block. And that's OK. There's no reason to force yourself to sit in your office if it doesn't work for you. That's one of the reasons you work for yourself, right?
- Pay attention to how long you can be productive without a break. Is it 20 minutes? 2 hours? More? Less? That's all OK. But take breaks when you need them. And pay attention to what really feels like a break. It could be playing a quick game of Angry Birds. Or taking a walk around the block. Or making a cup of tea. Or throwing in a load of laundry. Or doing a quick IM session with your mentor. Whatever you do needs to leave you feeling refreshed, though.