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How to Boost Your Productivity When You're Self-Employed

Marc Chaput
Achieving your goals

Do you struggle with productivity? You're not along. Here are some self-employed tips to boost your productivity.

Productivity tip #1: Clean your workspace

Let's face it. A cluttered desk is distracting and can make you feel like you're out of control. Luckily, clearing your workspace can give you a fresh start.  The easiest way to do this is to remove everything from your desk and start with a blank canvas. Put everything in a box and add things back onto your desk gradually. By adding items as you need them, you'll separate the essentials from what you don't need. Finding other areas to store these items will almost certainly help improve your concentration and productivity!  If you still find yourself with a cluttered desk, consider upgrading to a larger workspace or adding additional storage to your work area. This can include extra shelves or special cable hiding solutions.

Productivity tip #2: Make a list of things to do

Whether you have two or ten things to do in a day, making a list of things to do can keep you motivated to do more. I like to add little things to my lists to help keep me motivated to tackle the bigger tasks. Examples of a small task might include paying a bill or sending an invoice.  On days when you only have one thing to do, try making a list of things to do for the week. If you work from home, don't be afraid to add personal chores to your lists. These might include going grocery shopping or picking up your car from the garage.

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Productivity tip #3: Break large tasks into smaller ones

I have never been hit by writer's block as hard as when I was writing my thesis. Every chapter seemed like an insurmountable chore until I started breaking each chapter into subsections. The same strategy can be applied to anyone's professional activities.  No matter what you've been charged with, start by doing your research. Take notes so you're not relying on your brain to remember everything.  For example, if you're designing a poster, tackle one colour at a time. Similarly, you can tackle written assignments one paragraph or idea at a time. If you're preparing your income tax return, start by compiling your business expenses, followed by your income, followed by your mileage log. Cross each item off as you go along.

Productivity tip #4: Pomodoro Timer Technique

The Pomodoro Timer Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. This method consists in using a kitchen timer (or app) to boost productivity by encouraging you to work in 25-minute bursts. After 25 minutes, the timer goes off. That's your sign that you get to take a five-minute break. After you've gone through four Pomodoros, you can take a longer break, lasting 15 to 30 minutes.  When used correctly, the Pomodoro Technique won't just up your productivity; it can improve your attention span as well.

Productivity tip #5: Track your time

There are many free time-tracking tools you can use to figure out how much time you actually work in a day. Start the timer whenever you start working and stop it whenever you get distracted or interrupted. This simple act will help you resist distractions, as you become more aware of how often you are starting and stopping the timer.  If you're diligent about logging all of your tasks, you'll get a very interesting portrait of where all of your time is going. What's more, simply identifying where your time sinks are located will help you eliminate them.

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Automatic, accurate mileage reports.

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