Thursday, January 12, 2012

Savvy Entrepreneur: Finding A Rhythm

Starting the New Year we often feel full of promise and motivation, but then find ourselves falling behind within a week or two and totally back to our old ways within a month. I have some advice I think might help, but it means adding one more thing to your list of resolutions for the year.

This year I want you to listen to your body and mind to find your natural rhythm and promise to work with the patterns that you already follow. I know the New Year is about quitting bad habits and starting good ones, but think of this as neither good nor bad, but celebrating and using your existing habits to make you more productive.

Finding Your Rhythm

With a little self-awareness you can begin to notice what times of day you’re most productive, when you hit a slump and when you need to admit you’ve done all you can. By being aware of when you can focus best and when you’re easily distracted you can plan your big projects and mindless tasks to coincide.

Work With Your Natural Tendencies

If you wake up early bright-eyed and bushytailed, but find your energy lagging by lunchtime, try jumping into a big project right away and save the stuff that needs less attention for the times when feel your energy waning. The momentum of crossing something major off your list first thing might even carry you through your lunchtime slump.

However if you’re more like me and pulling yourself from sleep seems like minor torture, start with the easy stuff. Do a quick check-in of your calendar, to-do list, and email as you sip that first cup of coffee. Give yourself time to get in the work mindset, map out your day, prioritize what needs to be done, but also give yourself a specific point at which you switch gears and really get to work.

I generally focus on getting a lot of little stuff out of the way first off, it sets my momentum for the day and clears out my late morning and afternoon which is when I focus best. Around 3:00 I often feel myself getting sluggish. So not only do I get a snack to boost my energy, this is when I do my major email catching up and the time I check-in with Facebook and Twitter to do my social media marketing. Short attention span tasks are great for me at this point in the day. However when it gets dark I get a second wind so I knock out one more project between 5-7 and sometimes pick it up again after dinner.

Strict But Flexible

If you’ve never really paid attention to your energy levels you might not know where to start. Make note of how you feel throughout the day for a few days in a row. You don’t need to track every hour, but every time you notice a shift in energy jot down the time. Soon you’ll have a map of your days.

Then work out a schedule that makes the most of your energy levels. Test it for a week staying as close to it as you can before you make changes. Do be sensitive to what works and what doesn’t, you most likely won’t nail it the first time around.

Also be forgiving, if you’re a night owl and there’s no need for you to be up and productive before noon, don’t do it. There’s no rule that your workday needs to resemble anything close to 9-5. Instead don’t start work until 2 or 3pm and work into the week hours of the morning. I have friends that schedule in a half hour nap almost every day because they’ve found that their work and mood both benefit from it.

I realize many of you have kids and husbands to work around and this might all seem easier said than done. However, I promise that with a little awareness you’ll find out when you’re most productive and when you’re least focused, then just accept and plan for them.

What scheduling tricks help you stay productive?

I encourage comments directly to this post, but also feel free to email me directly with questions, reactions, struggles, etc. genevieve [at] lightboxsf [dot] com

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact Jen from Mama's Magic Studio about joining SFEtsy!

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