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How to Stay Focused and Disciplined When You Work for Yourself

Starting your own business can be one of the most exciting experiences of your life. You finally get to chart your own course. You can work build something that’s all your own, possibly making a lot of money in the process. Maybe you’re even getting to do the thing you’ve always wanted to do for the first time in your life.

One of the upsides of working for yourself can also be one of the downsides: You don’t have to answer to any boss, and you make your own schedule, working as you please. If you want to call it quits at 3 in the afternoon, you can. If you want to check out for a few hours so you can log some time at the gym, you can. If you want to take the day off so you can take your daughter to the zoo, you can. However, all that freedom can go to your head, and it can be easy to spend far too much time checking e-mail or doing house tasks or watching TV and not enough time doing actual work.

Staying focused and disciplined when you work for yourself can be challenging at times, but the right planning can help you make sure you stay on track:

Work during Your Most Productive Hours

Do you feel like a zombie until you’ve had at least a few cups of coffee? Trying to work first thing in the morning may not be very productive since you’ll likely spend a lot of time staring at the computer screen or mindlessly clicking through web pages. Maybe you feel the most energetic in the morning, but hit a huge slump in the afternoon after lunch. It is probably a good idea to schedule your work time in the morning and then plan for a break in the afternoon – maybe even a nap.

Identify your most productive times of day and plan to work during those times, even if they aren’t traditional business hours.

Do Work that Motivates You First

When you start work, the tasks you do can set the tone for the rest of your day. Most people start work with the least pleasant tasks on their list or the most time-consuming tasks. However, for many people, starting with these tasks can sap their energy and drain their motivation. Work quickly feels tedious, and it can take much longer than necessary to complete even basic tasks.

Instead, start your day with tasks that are motivating, fun, or easy to complete quickly. You’ll feel energized by your work and your progress, and the momentum will carry you through more tedious or difficult tasks, helping you to complete them more quickly and to be more productive.

Work in Chunks

No matter how interesting or inspiring the work you are doing is, you can get burnt out after working for long stretches of time with no breaks. Plan your work in chunks, and schedule regular breaks to give your mind a rest. Every few hours, put aside what you are doing and go for a short walk, watch 10 or 15 minutes of your favorite show, call a friend or listen to some music. You’ll be able to return to your work feeling refreshed and better able to focus.

Focus on One Activity at a Time

In our time-crunched world, multi-tasking seems to be the answer to getting more done in less time. However, multi-tasking doesn’t actually help you get more done. Instead, it dilutes your focus and makes it take longer for you to get each task accomplished. Focus on one activity at a time, and you’ll get more done in less time.

Set Short- and Long-Term Goals

When you’re in the thick of taking care of small, daily activities, you can lose sight of your larger goals. Yet when you’re focused on everything you want to accomplish for your business, you can become overwhelmed, making it hard to focus on the daily activities that need to be done. Instead, establish both short and long-term goals to help you manage your time. Each day, you can complete tasks that meet short-term goals that can be completed within a few hours or by the end of the day. You can also work toward a larger goal, putting in a little time on a larger project and making progress each day.

Using this method, you’ll feel like you’ve accomplished something each day while also making progress toward larger goals, which can feel abstract until you reach the finish line.

Create a Productive Workspace

Working on your couch might be more comfortable, but it can also make you feel like you’re playing hooky from work, which will sap your productivity. You need to have a dedicated work space in order to set the tone for your day and make you feel ready for work. If you work from home, you should have a dedicated office space that is set up with everything you need to do work. Make sure your space is organized to help you find what you need and to work more productively.

If working from home is too distracting for you, it is worth looking into renting an office space in which to work each day.

Announce Your Goals to Others

Telling others what you plan to accomplish can help keep you accountable and keep you on task. For starters, you have publicly declared your intentions, which makes them more “real” to you. Also, when you tell others your goals, they are likely to ask about your progress, which will make it more difficult for you to make excuses. You are more likely to finish your work to meet your deadlines so that you have positive news to report when you are asked.

Meet Regularly with Other Entrepreneurs

Working for yourself can feel like you are working in a bubble. It can become easy to lose your focus or to forget why you started your business in the first place. By meeting regularly with other entrepreneurs, you remind yourself about the things that got you excited to start your business in the first place. You may leave the meeting feeling inspired and excited to start some new projects or try out some new strategies for your business. You might even pick up a tip or two for how to land new clients, make your business more efficient or take your company to the next level.

Working for yourself offers a freedom that many people dream of having. Yet that freedom requires great responsibility in order to be successful. These tips can help you to stay focused and disciplined so that your can meet your goals for your business and enjoy the eventual freedom that financial independence can offer.

The Hidden Rewards of Entrepreneurship

Are you thinking about becoming a business owner but want to know what exists for you beyond the dollar signs? Future entrepreneurs have many benefits to look forward to in addition to monetary rewards. If you’re the type of person that marches to the beat of your own drum, becoming an entrepreneur can be one of the most exciting and fulfilling things that you do in your life. The average entrepreneur experiences many ups and downs while starting up and throughout the course of their career. However, it’s these highs that make being an entrepreneur so worth it. Whether your goal is to start a small business with a few close friends or to become a larger, well-known business entity with thousands of employees, the many tangible as well as intangible rewards can be great. However, some of the intangible benefits can be hard to predict. You may find joy in the following:

Making Your Vision a Reality

Perhaps you started a business because you want to create something new and exciting that you haven’t seen before. If you like being in charge and making your vision a reality, this is the job for you. Putting your ideas into action can be very rewarding and it allows you the creative freedom that makes your work more personal and fun. If you’re currently working for an employer, creative freedom may be lacking from your position. One of the most important parts of running a business is feeding your creativity and developing business strategies and goals to make it a reality. If you invest yourself and your own ideas in your work, your vision becomes real and it gives you a sense of accomplishment. If you work with others, take into consideration their vision and work together to create a harmonious working experience.

Independence

If you’ve always hated mornings and prefer to work at night, being your own boss allows you more freedom to work when you wish. This is just one part of the independence and that comes with being an entrepreneur. While you won’t get anywhere being lazy, you have more freedom to choose when you work and how much you invest in your business. This can reduce stress levels when you don’t have to meet the deadlines of others. Make your own hours and work as much or as little as you want. You can even take vacations when you want to, but remember that the more you put in to your business, the more you’ll get out of it.

Recognition

Starting your own successful business can help you get recognition, especially if you give back to your community. Maintaining good relationships with customers, friends and family while working honorably can help you achieve a positive reputation. Not only does this help you when growing your business, it can also boost your morale and provide emotional support during the ups and downs of running your business. This is something that can be difficult to find as an employee, where it often feels like your hard work goes unnoticed. Remember that reputation isn’t everything, and there are always times where you can receive negative reviews or angry customers. This can be a learning experience, and you can hone your social skills and improve customer service skills at the same time.

Personal Satisfaction and Security

Working without a boss can provide you with a sense of accomplishment and independence. Achieving success on your own terms is one of the biggest benefits of running your own business. Spending time and money on something that you care about so much and built with your own hard work can provide a sense of accomplishment that doesn’t always come from working for an employer. Knowing that your visions and creativity helped you build a successful business provides you with a sense of security and control. You know that you can make it on your own and you don’t have to rely on an employer to make you happy. You can arise from failures and adapt to change so that your business evolves as you do. Your business may be ever-changing or remain the same, but as long as you work hard and stay attentive to the needs of your customers and the market, you’ll remain a success.

Giving Back

Providing others with a means to a living is one of the many benefits of becoming an entrepreneur. Whether you hire employees or contractors, treating them well and enjoying the fruits of your labor together can give you a sense of family and help you work toward your goals as a team. If you become a financial success, you can give money to charities, provide bonuses to your employees and provide additional perks to your employees in addition to a paycheck. Something as simple as providing lunch for your employees can really make their day, and remember that nothing you give is ever to small or too large. Happy employees help create a successful company, and a good business owner understands and caters to that idea. If you don’t have employees, you can still help out your family, friends or charities financially and this can help you feel personally fulfilled. Remember that with great power comes great responsibility.

No matter what type of business you choose to get into, you’ll experience varying degrees of these intangible rewards. Some of the most important qualities for entrepreneurs to have are drive and adaptability, so no matter what happens, you’ll be ready and willing to make the changes needed to create a healthy business that thrives. The economy is ever-changing, but if you stay true to yourself and your business partners’ needs, you can become a great success.