The brave soul of the solopreneur requires a special set of productivity tips to meet the needs of their small business. Without a regular team of partners, co-workers or employees to rely on, having the right systems in place to stay organized and productive is absolutely essential.

At Shoeboxed, we’re always interested in finding new organizational and productivity ideas.  Here are a few of our favorite productivity tips especially geared toward small business owners running a one man or one woman show.

Seek balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is one of the biggest challenges faced by solopreneurs. Since you’re the captain of the ship and the first mate (and the guy swabbing the deck), it can become very easy to get sucked in to working 10, 12, even 15-hour days.

Oh, and let’s not forget about weekends (which you haven’t seen in how long now?).

But here’s the problem – working yourself into the ground actually inhibits your overall productivity levels. Sure, it may seem like you’re getting more done, but how is the quality of your work?

When you’re tired, stressed, and haven’t seen your friends and family in what seems like eons, your creativity is sucked dry. It becomes next to impossible to infuse your work with the kind of joyful energy that will attract more clients and keep old customers coming back.

So what’s a swamped solopreneur to do?

Give yourself a hard end time every day. In fact, make yourself a schedule and commit to it, no matter what. Since no one else is around to create structure in your work day, you have to do it yourself. A specific end time will force you to stay focused throughout the day and finish those top priority items on your to-do list.

Committing to a structured workday will allow you to implement the rest of our productivity tips and reap the maximum rewards from each.

You can also break up tasks into more manageable chunks. Instead of attempting to finish hours upon hours of work in a single sitting, follow organizational guru Samantha Bennett’s advice and commit to completing 15 minutes at a time. This way you’ll prevent burnout, and you’ll be surprised how quickly monumental projects get completed by giving just a few minutes of dedicated attention each day.

Once you’ve developed a schedule that allows you to actually sleep for at least eight hours a night and see your friends on a Saturday (a Saturday!), you may find that there is still work that needs to be finished.

Don’t sweat it!

That just means it’s time to…..


how-to-delegateThere are so many amazing things about being a solopreneur. You get to be your own boss, make all the decisions about your small business, and even take naps in the middle of the day, should the mood (or fatigue) strike you.

But that also means that you’re responsible for every area of your business, from invoicing and accounting to marketing and customer service.

As your small business grows, you may find that not even the stealthiest productivity tips create enough time to get everything done.

First of all, pat yourself on the back! That means your small business is growing, and the next step in the process is to begin outsourcing certain tasks.

The mere idea of outsourcing can be seriously frightening for solopreneurs, especially if you’re used to doing everything yourself. What if you hire someone and they’re bad? What if the work isn’t finished on time? What if they screw everything up?

Calm down. There are ways to evaluate freelancers and potential collaborators before you hire them to ensure that you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Decide which tasks you’d like to outsource. This is pretty easy – what do you dread doing? What’s been sitting on your to-do list for eons but you just can’t seem to make yourself do it? Or what takes you absolutely forever to do that could take someone else an hour or two?

Web design, social media, online marketing, SEO, and other administrative tasks are all great things to delegate to a freelancer or virtual assistant (VA).

Consider the time wasted procrastinating because of your hatred of accounting, or the endless hours it takes you to set up a simple landing page. There are folks out there who thrive on crunching numbers and designing stellar sites – why not let them do their thing while you reap the benefits?

Post your opportunity on Vanet Networking’s VA job site, or peruse Elance to find a skilled freelancer to meet your needs. The nice thing about these sites is that you can view feedback and ratings from other clients, and you can see the freelancer’s work and portfolio before you hire them.

Elance contractors are particularly keen on pleasing would-be clients, since great feedback helps them secure more jobs. A single negative review can be devastating for a freelancer, so you can be sure they’ll put their best foot forward for you.

Elance will also give you an idea of market rates and what to pay for each outsourced job. Freelancers bid on each project, offering their most competitive rates. When you decide to hire someone, the negotiating is already done for you.

Make sure that you’re paying each outsourced contractor less than what you make per hour. For example, if you figure your time is worth $75/hour, and it takes you five hours to design a landing page, look for a designer willing to help you out for less than $375. With your valuable time freed up to actually do what you do best, you’ll be able to not only make money, but turn a profit by outsourcing.