Like many aspiring entrepreneurs, one of the self-employment benefits I dreamed about day in and day out was not having a boss.
Not just not having a boss, but not having that boss – you know, the kind that slams you with a weekend’s worth of work Friday at 5:30 PM, the kind that belittles your every comment or suggestion in the board meeting, or the kind that micromanages everything from what you eat for lunch to when you use the facilities.
Maybe you’ve had a boss like that – one that inadvertently inspires you to take the entrepreneurial leap just so you don’t have to work for a total a**hole like them ever again.
But what happens when you sprout your self-employment wings?
You become your very own boss, and you – and you alone – are tasked with managing yourself.
For some, the self-management task may come easy; for others (like myself) it may require some savvy management tactics to elicit maximum productivity.
In case you’re in that camp of not-so-easy-to-manage peeps, or even if you just want tips for optimizing your entrepreneurial, productivity, here are three tips for managing yourself:
Set Rules and Policies
Just like an established organization, your start-up needs a set of written “rules” or policies outlining what’s acceptable and expected of team members (even if it’s just you). A few must-includes in your startup’s policies: work hours, job description(s), business goals, etc.
When starting my first business, I fell into the trap of working nearly 24/7. Whenever I wasn’t sleeping (which was most of the time) I was working on my business. Needless to say, burnout came quickly, and it doesn’t take the most experienced manager to recognize that my lack of self-management was a recipe for disaster.
A few of the “rules” I set for myself in burnout recovery included: wrapping up work by 4:30 PM every day, no weekend work, mandatory hour long lunch break, and separate devices – one phone for work, and one for personal. Over time, my “rules” became more tailored to my needs and the needs of my family.
Management guru, Peter Drucker,’s statement, “What gets measured gets managed” can be applied to almost every aspect of business, including that of managing oneself. Through measuring our time (with the assistance of some super swanky apps – see below), we’re able to manage our output. As we track our time, we’re able to identify areas of our operation that need to improved or outsourced – increasing our productivity.
Here are a few time tracking apps you might want to try:
While tracking your time may initially feel like a little overkill, reviewing your progress on a regular basis can provide you with the intel you need to tweak your day towards major productivity.
Even if it’s just you involved in your business – the case for many modern creatives and freelancers – you need to bring in other people to help gain perspective and vision. When assembling you’re A-team of entrepreneurial supporters, it’s important to include individuals that have entrepreneurial experience, are encouraging, and will hold you to task. For some, chatting business matters over with a close friend or fellow business owner may be enough; but for others, having more formal accountability arrangements – like a mentor or coach – can be very useful.
On a weekly basis, I keep a standing meeting with my spouse and business partner, where we chat sales, social analytics, future plans, etc. Monthly, I meet with several experienced entrepreneurial mentors where we discuss my company’s performance and future. An effective accountability “buddy” doesn’t necessarily have to have equity in your startup; they just need to share startup experience and want the best for you.
Ready to Manage Yourself?
As an entrepreneur, you’re responsible for being your own boss, something that requires strategic self-management tactics to ensure optimal productivity.
By structuring policies, tracking resources, and establishing accountable relationships, you can make managing yourself a lot less stressful.
Entrepreneurship provides you the opportunity to be the boss you never had, but always wanted – now’s your time to shine!