Full-time bloggers and entrepreneurs have to juggle a wide range of responsibilities. At Psych Central, we wanted to know their secrets to super productivity.
Here, five successful entrepreneurs, who do everything from designing jewelry to writing to coaching other entrepreneurs, share how they accomplish amazing things every day.
1. They don’t give themselves a choice.
According to Alisa Bowman, author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir about saving her marriage, and creator of a website by the same name, “I don’t give myself any other choice [but to work].” Alisa is the main breadwinner in her family, spending her workdays co-writing books, penning magazine pieces, writing for her blog or column and giving interviews. “If I don’t write, our mortgage doesn’t get paid.”
Also a breadwinner, business coach and blogger Tara Gentile believes that “we’re more likely to innovate when we simply don’t have a choice to do otherwise.”
2. They take breaks.
“Rest is an important part of productivity,” said Sally McGraw, author of the daily style and body image blog Already Pretty. “If you go and go and go until you burn out, you’ve hampered your ability to make any progress on your goals.”
Bowman takes a break every time she’s completed a task. It might be short, like going to the bathroom or grabbing a cup of tea, or long, like walking the dog or taking a nap. Breaks help Bowman “mentally put the task I just completed to bed and to warm my brain up to what’s next on my list.”
3. They use organizational tools to stay on track.
Jeanette Thwing, author of the blog J’s Everyday Fashion, uses a calendar to manage her projects and pencils in free time and vacations “to keep myself recharged.”
Gentile, who’s also author of the digital guide The Art of Earning: Because Making Money Should Be Beautiful, uses her calendar “to plot out goals and ‘in progress’ tasks.”
On a side note, when setting deadlines, Gentile purposely leaves herself less time. “I always offer up deadlines that seem just a little crazy to keep me from being tentative about the work I want to accomplish.”
4. They batch similar tasks.
Thwing, also a freelance writer and stylist, devotes one day to running errands and attending meetings and another day to taking photos for her blog.
McGraw also focuses her attention on a set of similar tasks: blog posts, business correspondence and then email. “By doing a single task for a stretch of time, I feel more focused.”
5. They delegate.
Jess Constable, the designer and founder of Jess LC and author of the blog Makeunder My Life (MML), credits a lot of her productivity to having extra help. “I have an assistant who makes the Jess LC jewelry orders and two interns who swap days working as managers for Jess LC.”
Gentile also delegates everything she can. She has a “virtual business manager that takes care of scheduling, correspondence and administrative tasks, so that I can concentrate on what I’m good at.” In fact, Gentile said that “most of my stress and just about all of the flubs in my business come from me doing things I’m not skilled at even if they seem straightforward.”
6. They work long hours.
McGraw gets asked all the time how she does it all. And her answer is simple: “I just never stop working.” She gets to her day job by 7:30 a.m. During breaks, she “squeeze[s] in writing and commenting on blogs, answering correspondence and other business tasks.” She leaves the office at 4:30 p.m. and breaks for dinner. After 6 p.m., she usually works two to five hours on her blog. (While she tries to keep her weekends relatively work-free, she still puts in at least three hours of writing.)
Thwing works 10 hours a day, six days a week, writing articles, answering emails and attending meetings. She breaks for dinner and exercise, “but then it’s right back to the computer for me!”
To many people this might sound grueling and overwhelming. But it depends on your style. McGraw described herself as an “inertia worker.” If she has too little to do, she doesn’t do anything, she said. “But when I’ve got loads of balls in the air, I’m energized and productive and happy…I love feeling busy, planning my next moves, knowing that I’m working toward a worthy end goal.”
7. They make time for what’s important.
Several of these entrepreneurs also juggle motherhood. But they make it work. For instance, during the workday, Gentile makes sure to check in with her toddler, Lola. (As her daughter gets older, Gentile does find it harder to get back to work because Lola misses her.) At around 4:30 p.m., Gentile wraps up work and makes dinner. She spends the rest of the evening with Lola until it’s her bedtime.