Let's keep going from part 1 of this guide!

Knowing your natural energy cycle

If you’ve been a solopreneur or worked from home for some time, you will likely have already become keenly aware that your energy is typically inconsistent during the day. Notably, sometimes it’s not as easy to pick up on when you work in an office, as your day has so much structure already woven into it that your own energy pattern has adapted.  But when you pick your own times and set your own schedule, you’ll find that your energy, creativity and problem solving skills are not consistent throughout the day.  Most people have periods in the day when they are more productive, and other parts of the day where working on anything requiring concentration is a struggle. 

It’s time to start really paying attention to your own natural energy patterns and instead of being frustrated by them, capitalize on them.  

Personal story:  If you’re a night owl like me, you might find your most creative times in the evening.  My best is from 7 – 10 pm at night; almost everything I work on feels like it "flows".  Since working until 10 pm can affect the ability to fall asleep naturally, I work from 7 – 9 pm and then turn the computer off.  It’s an unconventional time to be working, but it is my most energetic and clear, so losing that every day because of some stereotype of “when I should work” is a massive loss.  In the mornings, I exercise, do administrative tasks and most errands when I feel lower levels of creative energy.  I help support my productivity by respecting how I’m wired.  That’s what you’re becoming a solopreneur for too, so that YOU get to shape your day, and it starts with your own physiological patterns.  Use that to your advantage!

You are not a robot.  You cannot be productive for 8 hours straight.  It is not possible.  You greatly benefit from spacing your day out to take advantage of your personal best hours.  Now that’s not to say that even on those days, you won’t sometimes feel like you must force yourself to get something done.  This isn’t about procrastination or other reasons why you need to just make yourself sit your butt at the desk.  This is about those patterns you notice in yourself and yes, you have one just like me.  Jot it down in a notebook or app if you’re not sure what this pattern looks like for you.  Make note of when certain things feel easier and when they feel harder, and if that ties to a time of day, there’s the pattern you’re searching for.  You can really level up, work more consistently in your flow state when you notice your best and worst times for certain things.  Checking in with yourself too has the added benefit of helping you pay attention to your body state and taking breaks when they are most sensible.  

After all, there’s only you to do the work, so you need to take good care of yourself. 

Procrastinator’s Meeting: postponed until tomorrow

You have stuff you like to do and stuff you dislike, and it’s only natural that you sometimes focus on the stuff you like more.  Procrastination though can be a significant issue you’re going to have to tackle.  As a solopreneur, you have no one telling you when to start or stop working, and you don’t have anyone specifically monitoring your performance.  Friend drops by?  Easy!  Binge-watch Netflix? Easy too!  That flexibility will need to be the monitored though if you hope to consistently make progress on your goals.  You need to find an inner discipline to get stuff accomplished on your own.  But how?

If you find yourself looking at posts on Facebook or reading yet another web blog in the middle of your working time, you have a few strategies you can employ.  One is using a browser blocking extension to prevent you from looking at certain websites during your workday.  If you struggle with social media addiction, then a website blocker is a must.  You can block Facebook to YouTube to anything really.  You know your habits and you can allow yourself limited access to no access at all.  

Another way to focus is to use the 10-minute rule.  You say to yourself, “I am not sure where to start and don’t feel like doing this, but I am just going to give it 10 minutes and see what I can get done.”  This little rule costs you very little in terms of time but it can help you overcome some of the inertia starting your workday and help you get stuff underway.  After all, an object in motion tends to stay in motion, and you might find that this is the little push you needed to just figure out how to tackle any given task in a bigger way.

After you have worked for the 10 minutes, check back in with where you are at.  If you are like most people, starting a task is often harder than finishing it, and it’s quite likely you are going to want to keep going.  Set a Pomodoro timer and keep at it!  You will find it’s much easier to keep going and just get it done, and then you get the benefit of getting something crossed off your to-do list and feeling better for it.

One schedule to rule them all

For many solopreneurs, one of the most motivating factors for going solo is the allure of being in control of your own schedule.  Sure, you can miss work by choice or by necessity, and you can work to your preference, but you will still need to keep track of your time, or you’ll find that tasks start to fall through the cracks.  You can’t afford to miss a deadline for a client or leave a project unfinished.  Your reputation and your bank account are going to suffer the loss.

At a minimum, you will need at least an outline of what your workdays look like.  You can make this a simple day planner, a notebook or even the daily planning pages you find at the dollar stores these days.  You can go electronic and use one of the many tools that help you plan your day-to-day life.  Whatever your choice is, you need to use it and put something together that schedules your days.

Your schedule doesn’t have to be “perfect” right from the first day you put it together.  Schedules change and grow as your business evolves and your life circumstances shift.  You may note (as shared in the section above) that you simply get far more work done in the evening than in the morning.  So be sure to allow room for your schedule to adjust to those insights.  Your schedule does more than simply give you a track to run on – it helps you record what you’re working on and provides motivation to take things farther and get it done faster.

A simple schedule could look like this:  

  • 7:30am – 9:00am: exercise, breakfast, play with dog.  
  • 9:00am – 5:00pm:  work.  
  • 5:00pm – 7:00pm: prepare and eat dinner, time with spouse.  
  • 7:00 – 9:00pm:  hobby.  

Schedules don’t have to be elaborate to shape the day.

When you do schedule your day, you set the stage for a productive outcome before you even take the first steps in accomplishing your daily tasks.  You might even go as far as planning out your smallest details, such as when you’ll wash your hair or when you will take the food scraps out to the composting bin.  For most solopreneurs though, you didn’t become one to monitor your time that rigorously.  Get to know yourself by regularly checking in on that daily schedule and how it’s working for you.

An added bonus: scheduling enables you to minimize distractions and keep those business priorities in focus.

Can solopreneurs delegate?

Yes, you can!  A solopreneur doesn’t mean you’re completely alone for every task!  There are resources available at your disposal that can help you maximize your output by delegating tasks, and there sure are tasks that lend themselves well to others taking care of them for you.  

At a certain point too, it will likely become essential that you learn how to tap into these extra resources to help you get work done as well.  You simply can’t clone yourself, and as your business grows, so too will the tasks that need to get done.  You might look at working with a freelancer to help create social media content, a writer who can provide you with high quality blog content, or a virtual assistant who can help with anything from scheduling appointments to replying to trouble tickets.  

You can also outsource significant portions of work that you might have previously done yourself, such as WordPress maintenance, website installation or Shopify updates.  No matter what helps you in supporting your business, you are going to need to spread the work a bit wider than yourself if growth is in your immediate future.

The point of task delegation is to provide you with more time to work on the vital aspects of growing your business, and that ultimately will help you reach your goals.  You may, from time to time, delegate work in order to give yourself a bit of time off, but think of this as time you’re leveraging in order to get the most growth. Time that will help you succeed, rather than always being time you get to relax.

Did you say squirrel?  Distractions at work

Distractions come in many forms.  For some, it’s checking e-mails or texting on their phone.  For others, it’s getting distracted by the “next shiny object” to pop up in their Facebook feed.  There is no lack of ideas of how to make money online, and some of the so-called gurus you'll encounter provide very compelling reasons why you need to check out their latest “offer”.  Focus is in short supply sometimes, and distractions are at their peak.  You can’t open a browser window these days without the latest advertisement promising you something you feel you don’t already have.

And, as a solopreneur you don’t have a boss looking over your shoulder or checking in on your browser history.  If you're someone who is more productive knowing someone is tracking your output, being a solopreneur might be a challenge. If you get distracted, you legitimately take precious time away from what you need to get done on something that’s far less helpful and far more transient.  Every time you get sucked into something that’s not directly working on your goals, or buying yet another tool you think you need to succeed, you are putting money, literally, into someone else’s pocket.  You need to find ways to keep yourself on task and minimize these, at least during your most productive time. Being distracted from time to time can even be helpful, but when it’s happening daily, for large chunks of time, you’re derailing the progress you could have made and that time isn’t coming back to you.

So, what can be done to minimize distractions?  As mentioned previously, browser blockers that you set to reduce your casual surfing during work hours.  You can mute your phone for certain hours of the day or use apps that lock your phone for specified lengths of time.  You can partner with an accountability buddy who will check in on you and see if you’re staying true to task.  You can set up your workstation in an out-of-the-way area of your home so that you’re less tempted to glance at the television, do the dishes or check out the fridge (again.)  You have a lot of choices in your day-to-day activities, so try to set yourself up for as much support as possible.  When you sit down at your desk, set that timer and stick with it.  

Craft a morning routine

Unlike a schedule, which is a road map of sorts to the entire day, a morning routine is simply a template for the first couple of hours after you awaken.  Many people find that ritualizing this portion of the morning sets their motivation and energy up for a successful entry into the workday.  Your brain comes to recognize this rhythm and it gets easier and easier to fill the morning with small successes, and that’s a great pattern to start off with!

Here’s a basic routine:

  1. 7:00am:  Wake up and drink lemon water
  2. 7:20am – 8:00am:  Exercise and stretch
  3. 8:10am – 8:30am: Shower and get dressed
  4. 8:30am – 9:00am:  Make and eat breakfast, wash dishes
  5. Start work at 9:00am and work until 5:30pm

That’s just for example, of course.  If you’re more of a night owl, you’ll likely adjust this to work best with your metabolism.  The point being though, how you set up those first hours of the day often proves a template for the following hours.

Many solopreneurs benefit from automating as many of their routines as possible in order to avoid spending energy on stuff that doesn’t contribute directly to the bottom line.  Anything that conserves your mental energy is a bonus, and exercise of course supports your physical well-being which in turn supports your mental stamina. Automate as much as you can, and you will develop beneficial patterns that support your success.

Take a Break Already!

No one can sit at their desk for hours at a time without feeling exhaustion.  You need to support your well-being as much as possible with regular breaks.  Regular breaks are great because you also provide yourself with mental space as well, and this helps you come back to your work fresher and ready to go.  You’ll stay more alert and have more stamina.

Stand up, stretch, have a glass of water to stay hydrated, take a bathroom break, go outside and look up at the sky for a bit.  Your breaks don’t need to be long, but you should try to stand up at least every half hour.  This is another reason why the Pomodoro Technique is so helpful – the structure of the technique basically ensures you are getting away from the keyboard for a bit.  This in turn facilitates a fresh return.

It is tempting when facing a deadline or being overwhelmed with tasks to just keep working through your breaks.  The problem ultimately though is that you'll drain the battery faster and then drag your way to the end of the day instead of working steadily through.  If you must work though a break or two (since at times, it will likely be a necessity) be sure to at least stand up, stretch, look out the window for a few seconds before sitting back down.  It is generally more helpful, however, to leave the breaks in and work later into the day than to skip them and burn out too quickly. Overall, you will feel much less stressed, and the quality of your work is likely to be much higher as well.


In conclusion, these tips should give you a good overview of the main ideas around productivity for solopreneurs. You want to craft routines that suit your needs, work with your energy, and help you stay on track during the workday.  The Pomodoro Technique, as well as other time management methods, require effort at first, but once you get the hang of them, you should notice a substantial boost in your output.  You can do this, and it will take some effort, but the rewards can more than make up for the effort!  

About the Author Irene Fulton

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