Focus, Production, Creativity, Anticipation, and Innovation
I put the five keys out there early on to save you time – if you’re as busy as I am – so you can think about them in your sleep. For those of you who are still with me, I’m excited to elaborate on why I believe those five things are key to being a successful, lasting solopreneur (and make your way up to head a growing company under your keen direction).
As time goes on, it goes, never to come back again. Time is our most valuable resource with a strong competing argument for love. This is why focus has come to be a primary focus to really get a handle on.
With so many demands on our time from reasonable sources such as significant others, children, charities we help out, and even close friends who have a heavy burden at some point and need a hand, time is incredibly precious and it’s all the more critical to use our time wisely. It does us no good to toil away 16 hours per day and go to bed only to do it all again the next day with no enjoyment to be had.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Since time is precious, let’s take it upon ourselves to maximize the focused work rather than frantic and unproductive work. Here are some tips on focus.
Get up early. Most successful people get up 3 hours before the start of their “job” (whatever that is for solopreneurs) to plan, improve skills, or clear their minds for the day.
Close e-mail and social media. You don’t need distractions while you are focusing. Every distraction can take anywhere from 10-90 minutes to recover from because they often trigger patterns of behavior to get back “into the groove.”
Create a cocoon. You need to create a distraction-free zone. For me writing this, I’m using iA Writer for Mac in full-screen, I closed the blind beyond my desk overlooking our pond, closed the door, and put on a musical score using headphones. Unless someone comes in to disrupt me (someone had better be bleeding), This will continue to pour out until it’s completed.
Solopreneurs have to produce or they don’t eat. It’s that simple. Whether it be a product or service, something has to be produced for income to flow. To KISS (keep it simple stupid) it, I tell our kids that I have to “go to work,” which is going upstairs to the office side of our master bedroom. “Why?” comes the question almost every time. “To make money. To cool the house, buy food, and put gas in the car,” is our routine.
A loss of focus can really hinder production, so focus is the first step. Like focus, I’ve learned the following things help enhance production.
Use the right tools for the job. While I don’t personally believe in using debt, especially for startups, it’s important to use the right tool for each job. As a web developer, that means I use specialized apps for coding, server connectivity, browser extensions, and a long list of premium tools for the platform I develop in, WordPress. It’s about efficiency.
Don’t check e-mail first thing. When you check e-mail as soon as you get to your desk (or worse, when you wake up), you are replacing your priorities for the day with the priorities of others. They e-mailed at their convenience are expecting you to do what they ask, usually ASAP. Also, don’t check it after dinner – your mind can’t rest properly when you look one last time before bed.
The creative mind is finicky. Immerse yourself in a similar environment and do your best to do it every single day or at least every weekday. When authors dig into writing a new book, they often write 500-1,000 words every single day in a block of time when they are most mentally agile (like 9am for 90 minutes).
Such structure sets the mind into the same mood and mode when the body is in that setting. I recommend the site 99U.com for more tips and they recently published a book that is really fantastic – I use Audible to listen while I do an early morning walk to start my same-same-same routine.
Once you’re an expert in your field, you should be able to anticipate some things that are coming down the road. You know a new product or service was announced a few months (or minutes) ago and can anticipate how that will affect you or how you can leverage it for your gain or the gain of your customers.
As a WordPress specialist, I know the next version is coming out very soon, as well as every few months. Sometimes plugins or services update regularly or announce changes and offer beta testing. Use such industry news to your advantage and plan for the future.
Also incredibly valuable is the ability to see a need, meet a need. Steve Jobs was notorious for creating products that we didn’t know we wanted until we saw it. Everyone was perfectly happy with what they had… until they saw the next thing.
While you don’t need to have such a profound and grandiose keynote on a global stage, the simple feat of fulfilling a need that some random person or organization has is exactly how the process starts. Think about it for a while. How many things do you have that exist because someone, somewhere wanted something that does one thing – perfectly.
Someone made that thing and you bought it.
The world is moving at such a fast pace, unless you anticipate or innovate, you will be left in ruin like countless companies since the Industrial Revolution who didn’t see the oncoming train.
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