Entrepreneurs who are operating and maintaining a business all on their own have a ton of work on their plates. Often, the duties of a solopreneur can seem daunting or unmanageable as they tackle every task, big or small. Even if you can outsource some tasks to vendors and contractors, however, it’s still important to streamline your to-do list and make the most of your time.
Many members of Young Entrepreneur Council have experience being the sole leader at the helm of a growing business. Below, 10 of them offered some tips for busy solopreneurs who want to make their days more efficient.
1. Prioritize Two Things
When you wake up, write down two things that you must get done that day. These are your top priorities. Then, do nothing until these two things are done. Period. This will keep your momentum moving forward and knock off your priorities before you help other people get their jobs done or respond to endless emails. – Ian Sells, Rebate Key Inc.
2. Leverage Tools To Keep You Organized
When I started my company, I was a solopreneur. Now, I work with more than 50 people. In the beginning, I used paper lists, then I moved to digital tools like Asana, Trello, Infinity and monday.com to track projects, brainstorm and write out my daily “to-do” list. These were useful when I was a team of one, and they are useful today! When I started bringing people onto the team, I looped them into these tools as well. On top of these resources, my team and I now use Harvest, which easily tracks time and converts it into invoices with the click of a button—and I wish I’d had it when I was a one-woman operation. – Kelly Ann Collins, Vult Lab
3. Try Calendar Blocking
The No. 1 thing you can do is calendar block everything you have to do on a given day, week and month. If you have to look at your finances every week, put a hold on your calendar from 12 to 2 p.m. every Thursday. If you have to check in on your client once a month, put a hold on your calendar every third Wednesday of the month for 60 minutes. This means workouts and lunch breaks as well. Every hour of your day should have a block of time accounted for. Your job description tells you what to do, your job manual tells you how to do it and your calendar tells you when to do it. All three of those things have equal weight. – David Brickley, STN Digital
4. Contract Out What You Can
Even if you don’t want to start hiring a bunch of employees for your venture, get support through vendors or contractors who can help take over the parts of running a business that you aren’t great at and don’t love. Freeing up the time and mental energy you once devoted to something you weren’t good at or didn’t care about will give you a lot more time to think critically about your business and grow it in the way that is right for you in the long term. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
5. Rely On Automation
It’s critical for solopreneurs to automate as many tasks as they can. A few ways to do this include using chatbots for customer support, creating drip email campaigns for product onboarding and more. It’s especially useful to automate repetitive tasks. You’ll free up your time to focus on important activities like adding product features people want and taking care of major customer support issues. – Blair Williams, MemberPress
6. Work When You’re At Your Peak
Find out if you are an early bird or a night owl. There are people who find it difficult to get up early and so try to sleep earlier to achieve this goal; however, many times they end up spending more time in bed than they should, so they waste a lot of time. Remember that what matters most is what you do when you are awake. It’s not about forcing your routine and stressing yourself daily while distracting yourself from your main goal; it’s about creating a routine and enjoying it day by day at the same time. This means that you manage your sleep hours well (which should always be healthy) and work hard on your project when you are awake. – Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve
7. Learn To Use The 80-20 Rule
Solopreneurs must focus on learning how to prioritize. Managing your time and using tools become secondary practices if you’re focusing on non-urgent or non-revenue generating tasks. For a solopreneur to become efficient, they must learn the Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule—20% of your efforts equals 80% of the results. When a solopreneur learns that 20% of their efforts yields 80% of the returns, they become efficient, effective and profitable. The No. 1 job of any solopreneur includes finding what efforts yield results and then eliminating or stopping what efforts don’t. This practice is the most overlooked concept in business that prevents growth. – Libby Rothschild, Dietitian Boss
8. Create Daily Lists
A good rule is to create lists that let you “open to close and close to open.” That means starting your day by getting as much done on your list as possible. It also means working as much as you can without distraction so you can get through the nonnegotiable items first. After you’ve done that, start working through the “musts” and then the “wants.” Finally, at the end of your day, create an itemized to-do list for the next day. Don’t underestimate the power of lists and their ability to help you form good work habits and keep yourself accountable, which is essential if you’re a solopreneur. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.
9. Ditch Multitasking
Though it might sound contradictory, I’d advise solopreneurs to ditch multitasking. When you work on multiple things at once, you don’t give them the individual attention they deserve. Multitasking has actually proven to reduce productivity, which defeats its whole purpose in the first place. Instead of multitasking to get things done, learn to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines. Focusing on one task minimizes the chance for error so you see better results. – Jared Atchison, WPForms
10. Allow Yourself Balance
When you work alone, it can be hard to turn your brain off without feeling guilty or that you are being lazy. However, I found that late nights and pushing through long hours would exhaust me and eventually hurt my productivity, which would impair my ability to perform as the week dragged on. Allow yourself to step away from work and make sure you are exercising and socializing. Ensure you have a solid stopping time and that you are getting plenty of rest and relaxation. Maintaining balance will allow you to put in a complete, productive day and help you maintain your mental health in the long run. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC