Making the most of your time is very important when working for yourself. It’s a great feeling to have complete freedom over your working day, but if you’re not careful this feeling of freedom can leave you with a lack of purpose or direction. It’s hard to stay motivated and excited about what you do, especially when you’re sitting at home, often working on your own. I’m actually very lucky being part of a 2 person team, as we manage to keep each other organised and occupied with work. When one is feeling unmotivated there is always the other to take up the slack, or that’s the theory anyway. It’s not actually been put into practise yet, as we’re both so excited about starting 18a!

But anyway, the point I’m trying to make is how important it is to give yourself some structure and focus to your working day. Being new at this myself, I thought it would be a good idea to think of the best ways of doing this, here are a few of my suggestions.

1. Make a list – Lists are great, start every day by making a list of all the things you want to achieve, complete, work on or just think about. The more items you can tick off the better you’ll feel! I love ticking items off lists, and the time taken to focus your mind on what you want to do that day, is without doubt worth it. I find myself much more productive this way.

2. Turn off the radio – One thing I personally find incredibly distracting when trying to work, is the radio or TV bleating away in the background. Before you know it, you’ve spent the past 20 minutes just sitting listening to the radio! If you’re working, then work! Otherwise you may as well just go and watch TV, because you’re really wasting your time and not achieving nearly as much as you should be. Get all your work done early and go down the pub! I’m not against music full stop, but find something that doesn’t distract you, but helps you focus. Classical music is well known for it’s intelligence effect. It’s all down to taste at the end of the day.

3. Start every day with some fresh air – I’m terrible at this, I often just get up, grab some breakfast and head straight for the computer, but it’s definitely worth taking at least 10 minutes to have a walk/run/cycle or some kind of exercise in the morning.

4. Take breaks – Working hard doesn’t mean not blinking for 8 hours and working solidly. That’s just not productive! Take breaks, make a cup of tea, do the washing up, anything to get some time away from the screen every couple of hours.

5. Develop a points system – This is an idea I read about a little while ago, I don’t remember where exactly… I have a feeling it might have been on pro blogger, but I think it’s a great idea. A points system can help to start your day off in a productive way. Basically it works like this:

i) You come up with a list of the jobs that you feel you ‘should’ do every day, but really can’t be bothered to. As I develop and promote a lot of my own websites, for me this includes writing blog articles, commenting on other people’s blog articles, commenting on forums, contacting other website owners to see if they want to swap links… That type of thing. All the kind of monotonous jobs that you could spend your whole life doing, but probably never get round to.

ii) Once you have your list of boring/daily chores you then need to assign each job a certain number of points. I.e. Writing a good blog article takes some time, maybe 30-45 mins, so that’s worth 8 points. Whereas commenting on a forum is pretty quick and easy, so that’s just 1 point for each comment (don’t forget your signature!)

iii) Every day your objective is to get 10 points, your points can be gained by any combination of chores and must not take more than 1 hour, preferably just 30-45 mins to achieve. The great thing about this plan is that you can mix it up, if you don’t feel in the creative writing mood there’s no point in forcing yourself to write something dull and uninspiring, just write on someone else’s blog instead! 🙂 Comment on a forum or contact a possible business partner.

Starting every day this way gives you structure and helps you make the most of your time online, organised, focussed and effective!