Perhaps the hardest part about working for yourself is staying focused. In a traditional office setting, you’ve got peers, management, and a physical space that helps ensure you get shit done. That’s not the case when you start a company. Unless you create structure for yourself, it’s hard to make progress. Below are a few things that have worked well for me however creating this concise list took months of trial and error. Experiment with different techniques to create a system that works best for you.
- Plan your day the night before: In the evening, I take 5–10 minutes to determine what HAS to get done the following day. By getting it out of my brain and onto a list the night before, I can rest easier and also hit the ground running in the AM. My to-do list is never more than 5–7 items — things start slipping if it gets any longer. On a side note, if you’re looking for an easy-to-use tool for list management, I like Todoist.
- Review your goals: I discussed the importance of having a 12 month plan here. That document should be a simple, one-pager that takes you less than 2 minutes to review. I read mine, out loud, every morning. Which brings me to my next point…
- Days are won in the morning: I try to be as routinized as possible in the mornings. If I can win the first 60–90 minutes, I can usually win the whole day. A perfect morning looks something like this…1. Wake up — 5:45–6 AM 2. Gym — 6:15–7 AM 3. Meditate + review goals — 7:15–7:30 AM 4. Make bed, shower, eat breakfast — 7:30 AM-8:15 AM. Some mornings, I’m rushed and can’t get to gym so I just make the bed and meditate as those two activities combined take less than 10 minutes. I’m a big fan of making the bed for a bunch of reasons that Admiral McRaven so eloquently discusses in his commencement speech at UT-Austin.
- Prepare for bed: Everyone knows the importance of getting enough sleep so I’m not going to belabor that point. What I will say is that act of going to bed should also be a routine. Even if you don’t always go to bed at a consistent time, be mindful about the process. Put away your phone/computer at least 30 minutes before bed. Read a book or listen to a podcast to wind down. Just like you’d stretch before a big workout, you need to ease into bed. Find the things that work best and do them consistently.