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Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Secret For Boosting Productivity As A Solo Entrepreneur

The life of an internet entrepreneur offers an interesting paradox. Those on the outside look in with envy at our ability to work when we see fit, which is the very same thing that so many of us struggle with.

As an internet entrepreneur who works from home I am fighting a constant battle against idleness. Some days I might be super productive and get a huge amount done, while on others I have no motivation to do anything.

I am sure that many of you are in a similar position fight the same demons on a daily basis.

With the above in mind I am always looking for ways to increase my productivity and motivation. I often refer to those topics on posts here on My Wife Quit Her Job and with good reason – I see your willingness to work and effectiveness in working as two vital elements of success.

Over the past couple of months I have been working to a rigid system that has proven to be highly beneficial in boosting my productivity and motivation and today I want to share it with you.

Boosting Productivity

In my opinion, the typical Western workday is extremely inefficient. It goes a little something like this: you start work at 9am, take a break for lunch around 1pm, then work through to 5pm. You work in two blocks of time — four hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon.

One only has to glance at just about any research study on attention span and application to understand that it is impossible to offer “sustained attention” towards any particular task for a prolonged period of time (i.e. several hours).

So that’s one strike against conventional wisdom. I figured that a good system needs to embrace the concept of ultradian rhythms when applied to productivity. What I mean by that is you need to find the average period of time for which you can apply yourself productively without getting distracted and use those time periods as a guide for your working day.

Boosting Motivation

Productivity is one thing — equipping yourself with the necessary motivation to beproductive is something else altogether and is something that I consistently struggle with.

However, I have always found that accountability has served me very well in terms of boosting motivation. That is in fact one of the reasons I first created my blog — to serve as an accountability journal in my efforts to quit my job and build an online business. It was a huge help in doing just that and I have looked to apply the concept of accountability to most things I have done since.

One easy and obvious way to motivate yourself to do something is simply to tell someone that you are going to do it. But not just anyone — someone who has an active interest in your business (whether that be direct or indirect) and will actually hold you accountable to your promises.

Arguably the best manifestation of this form of accountability is a mastermind group — one or more people who regularly meet (in person or otherwise) to discuss their businesses. I have been in a two-man mastermind group for a few months and it has been nothing short of revolutionary in terms of its positive effect on boosting my motivation to work.

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The Block Method

Having carefully considered methods for boosting productivity and motivation I had to create a working system that would utilize them both. What I came up with is an extremely simple system that I call the block method.

It’s no more complicated than this: you divide your working week up into blocks of time and allocate a task to each block. In my case each day is made up of four 90 minute blocks (with a break between each to restore myself to a productive state), so I have twenty blocks available to me every week.

With the block method you can essentially plan out your work and know how much (to a varied level of accuracy depending upon how confident you are at predicting the time cost of tasks) you can get done in any given day, week or month.

This is invaluable for three main reasons:

  1. You can plan out tasks for a certain period and then hold yourself accountable to complete them.
  2. It encourages you to value your time and only do tasks that are truly worthwhile.
  3. It reveals how much work you should be doing (which motivates you to do it).

This ties in beautifully with being part of a mastermind group as you can quantifiably state how much you plan to get done in any given week (assuming that you have weekly meetings). If your mastermind partners are on the right wavelength they will quite rightly kick your ass for not getting work done if you said that you would.

Planning for Success

Personally, I love the block method and can’t imagine going back to my old way of working.

I can now plan out every week and know exactly what I am doing. I can look at every single 20 block period and check that I am carrying out tasks that will not only maintain but also build my business. I can get a very tangible sense of how quickly I am progressing without leaving it to chance.

In short, I am more productive and better motivated. And when it comes to running your own business, few other things are as important.

This post was written by Tom Ewer, a regular contributor for MyWifeQuitHerJob.com!

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