I've said this many times now- This pandemic is the worst. Seriously. We get forced from our industry where we're accustomed to constant human interaction and working with hundreds of people a day, to being at home alone and trying to figure out what to do.
Why am I assuming you're at home alone? - Because we're chefs. When did we even have time to develop those personal relationships before this fiasco? Some of us have roommates, but my roommate left last December. I was working as a consultant and a consulting chef and sales executive for a wholesale food company. I was furloughed in March, and my move was to focus on growing my consulting company. Thank God I had started my consulting company two years ago. Because it takes years to build a solid company with a regular clientele. This is why I take my job so damn seriously. I want to help people who I can empathize with- Because I have been in the thick of the struggle. For some reason life has lead me through my particular path. Thank God that I'm entrepreneurial, otherwise I would be S.O.L. and without a job in this industry. All while dealing with a plethora of other personal problems. Work has always been my saving grace.
I didn't become an entrepreneur overnight. I didn't learn to work for myself overnight. I've been working independently for 11 years. I had a huge learning curve as I learned how to manage myself.
The main thing to remember when you work for yourself is- if you do not produce great work, you don't get paid. You don't get paid. Meaning, you can't pay your bills. You don't have health insurance. You have no savings for the future. You can't travel. You could become homeless very quickly. Fun stuff .
Owning a business is hard. Being your own boss is difficult. You need to develop a few key strategies so that you can remain productive. Your productivity is directly related to your mental health and your ability to take action. That's a fact. So, you need to work on yourself in order to stay productive and innovative in your field.
1) Wake up when you've rested enough
You should keep yourself on a regular schedule, but make sure that you're not overworking yourself.
Since I'm a consultant, some of my clients can't meet until after 5 pm. Some can only meet early morning. Because of that, I plan my weeks out on Mondays and develop a schedule for myself every week. I make sure to include enough time to sleep and enough time to get ready for my day. I also make sure I separate some time to enjoy life and spend time with family or friends.
2) Get ready for work every day
Shower, do your makeup, get dressed, make your bed, drink your coffee, eat a good breakfast, meditate
This helps with self confidence. If you feel good about yourself, you do a better job because you have a more positive energy. I like to work out when I can, so I don't put that on my list. The main point behind this tip is that you need to take care of yourself inside and outside so that you can have more mental and physical endurance .
3) Find a separate work space from your living space
Find a corner, set up a desk with your tools, have files organized and ready to go.
This helps you keep an organized mind. There's a lot of paperwork and other things you will need to run your business every day. Not everything can be kept in a computer. You need to have an area where you can transport yourself into another mental space.
I like to keep my spaces separate. My personal life is very separate from my professional life, although I live both lives simultaneously. As a woman, I am nurturing and I like to relax, sleep, watch movies, cook , listen to music, relax, relax, chill, and relax. That's all I do in my personal space.
I can't have my personal space also be my workspace because I'll have too much temptation to relax. Work requires discipline and consistency. No one can achieve that from working from their kitchen or their bedroom. You need to find a corner or a room- but you need to create a space that helps you remain productive.
4) Write a to do list and stick to it
You're going to get interrupted many times a day. You're going to get phone calls, emails, knocks on the door, etc. that you did not plan to address during the day. That's life, and that's okay. We all get interrupted. The most important thing is that you continue to move forward and check items off the list.
I write a to do list every Sunday night or Monday before I start the day. This helps me take the big tasks on first, and see if I can get any of the smaller tasks knocked off simultaneously. Sometimes I might complete my list, but most of the time I don't complete my list and I let some tasks roll over into the next day. I let it roll over because I need to make sure that my life remains in balance. The most important aspect of working from home is self management- and that includes self care and not overworking yourself.
5) Manage your anxiety
We want to get everything done. We need to get all of our work done. We just need to get it done thoughtfully and completely. You can't take on jobs and do a bad job. Doing a good job requires thought and patience. This will require doing everything step by step. We can't skip steps because skipping steps will cause us to do a bad job. So, we need to manage our time. Delegate if you can, and manage your anxiety to the best of your ability.
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. I've learned what that feels like. I've learned that what works best for me is to stop everything I am doing and meditate. It's like a "time out" for myself. I go for a walk, or I sit on my couch for a bit, breathe and think through what my next steps will be.
You will constantly have hundreds of things to do. Because you are a business owner. If you want a successful business, you need to manage many projects and lead. Leaders are strong, calm, and steady in their thoughts.
Manage your tools. There are many platforms and tools online that will help you stay organized. USE THEM.
Use a CRM (Customer relationship management) system. Use Microsoft Office 365, Google Workspace, and whatever else helps you keep everything organized and updated. It is much easier to keep up with administrative duties than to let them pile up for you to deal with at the end of the year.
Make sure to schedule about an hour or two every day to make sure you're updating your programs and that your emails are all up to date.
Manage your finances. Think toward the future. If your company takes off, you will get paid. Financial management is key for every business. You need to understand what your overhead is, and what you will do with the extra cash flow. My recommendation is to invest whatever cash flow you can invest. Put that money to work and build your future as you work on your present.
I am certified to help you with financial planning and investments. Please contact me if you need help with this. It's important to work with someone that you trust.
If you need help implementing these tips- contact me! I am a consultant. If your business is based in Washington DC, chances are I can help you for free if you qualify for the DC SBDC program. Don't wait for tomorrow when you want the change now.