I’ve done a few ‘ask me anything’ style posts in the past, but I thought it was high time to do another one. I wanted to keep this one career specific, and so I asked my Facebook fans to hit me with their toughest questions related to running your own small business.
What are the best ways to keep motivated and keep on working when working for yourself? I’m at start up and suffer from a severe case of procrastination! – Kate Love
Pure, unadulterated obsession! I know it sounds like a terrible cliché, but I really can’t not blog, I love it to much! But I hear ya, and sometimes the day to day monotony of running your own business can be less than glamorous.
First of all, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a few days of procrastination now and again. Giving yourself a mental break is good for the soul, and will help your productivity over all, so don’t beat yourself up over it. OBVIOUSLY this should be a rare treat though, so if you’re finding that you’re wasting more time on Pinterest that anything else, something probably needs addressing.
I’m going to force you to ask yourself a tough question now: are you really doing something that lights you up? As I said, I can’t not do what I do. I love it so much, there’s nothing I’d rather be filling my time with. If you’re finding that you’re procrastinating more than you should be, maybe you just haven”t found your ‘thing’ just yet. This is fine, just keep on exploring until you do!
Here’s my biggest practical tip for beating the procrastination monster though. It’s all about breaking your tasks into super manageable chunks. If you’re still struggling after you’ve done that, break them down some more until the task is so small it’s super easy to get it checked off your list. It’s much easier to do, say, 5 minutes of emails, and then have a break, than tell yourself you have to tackle your inbox ALL MORNING. That seems like such a big, boring task that you’ll just keep putting it off.
Not every single job you have to do is going to be completely thrilling so doing this, and rewarding yourself after you’ve completed things (even if it’s just a cup of tea!) is a really great way to encourage yourself to begin. Good luck!
Do you have a schedule that you like to keep to or do you only publish stuff if you think you have the right story? Do you pre-plan? Do you write posts and then publish them later? – Emily Lewis
I have a schedule for myself and for the blog. Both are equally important I think, because as a small business owner, if you tell yourself you can fill your day with anything, you’ll undoubtedly never get anything done! I start working before 9am and do most of my writing in the morning, followed by emails. My afternoons I filled with more admin related tasks that require less brainpower. I usually clock off around 7pm.
In terms of the schedule for the blog, I post twice a day on weekdays and once a day over the weekends. One of the most vital things to growing and maintaining a blog is consistency. So even if you can’t, or don’t want to, blog as often as I do you can still grow your audience. If once a week works for you, that’s perfectly fine, the key is that you are accountable and you do it every week! Otherwise it’s just all too easy to get out of the routine.
The reason that being consistent with your posting schedule is important is because it let’s your readers know when they can come back for updates. Even if they’re not consciously aware of what day or time you post, if they come and visit your site at the same time each day/week/month, they’ll always know there’s going to be new content.
Having a regularly updated blog is the best way to grow your audience. There’s nothing worse than finding a new blog and seeing that it hasn’t been updated for months. You’re probably not going to bother going back.
In terms of pre-planning, I always try and work a couple of days in advance, ideally at least week. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, you’re never going to put out good work if you have to rush it, and waking up in the morning and thinking “crap I need an idea for a blog post NOW”, is never the best way to be creative. Also, writing something and sitting on it for a few days can be really valuable. When you go back and read it with fresh eyes you’ll be able to spot typos easier, and you might figure out better ways of getting your points across. Both are almost impossible to do if you need to bash something out and publish it immediately!
Extra reading: How often should I be blogging?