There you are, curled up on your sofa, laptop tilted open, scrolling through Amazon. It’s 7:30 at night. You’ve attended your fair share of entrepreneur conferences, webinars, and events. It’s time to make the final push forward. You want to run your own business. Maybe you even want to invest your own capital. Yet that means keeping your full time job. I’m here to tell you it IS possible. It’s going to require you to roll up your sleeves, acquire a lot of grit, and contribute a lot of stamina to your lifestyle as the “Whole Package Careerist: full time employee and entrepreneur." Here are my practical tips for staying on task when you are juggling what amounts to two jobs.
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1. Time Management
The first thing anyone will tell you when you set off to be an entrepreneur while doing the 9-5 grind is that you will need to be VERY good at time management.
· The first thing you will need to do when considering time management, is thinking about your time management style. Do you work best when under pressure or feeling relaxed? If you work better under pressure, stay in constant contact with people who will drive you to your high level of performance and find a fast paced environment. This may mean setting daily goals with your peers or a mentor and finding a coworking space where likeminded entrepreneurs are also working on deadlines. If you work better relaxed, find a nice café with ambient music and find encouraging peers and mentors. Don’t spend a lot of time communicating with nerve-wracking people. Instead, set healthy boundaries and make your environment peaceful and relaxing. It’s all about your personal style, and then adjusting your environment and support system to bring out your best performance.
· Next, set time management goals. What is you need to accomplish this month? Take a bird’s eye view and lists tasks you must achieve on a monthly basis. Then use SMART goals to zero in on what needs to be accomplished each week. Try to create patterns where at a certain time and place each week you will accomplish a certain task. This will help you create a routine and get into a natural rhythm. Tradition begets habit formation which is crucial to success.
· Finally, prioritize based on relevance. Start each week by ranking each task in order of importance and urgency. Best results are achieved in a flow state—when you are working on one task with undivided attention. This type of heightened attention builds neural networks and creates focus and productivity. Thus, it’s important to be brutally honest with yourself about tasks that may seem like a priority, but can be set aside for another week. Choose 3-5 tasks that MUST be completed this week. The reason you are choosing a small number, is because this will help you give priority intentionally to tasks that are most urgent. Otherwise, they might slip through the cracks as you feel yourself pulled in all directions. Time Management 101.
The next touch point of “Whole Package Careerist” success is to start off each week getting your files and schedule organized. If you have a Dropbox, Google Drive account, e-mail, whatever!- make sure you color coordinate, file, and organize each set of e-mails, files, and tasks at the beginning of the week so you don’t get caught on Wednesday or Thursday with a tangled search for files that takes up your precious minutes. The purpose of getting organized is two fold:
(1) It will help optimize time management: the more time you spend organizing at the beginning of the week, the less overall time you will lose sorting through things later
(2) Perhaps more importantly, you will NOT be able to maintain relationships with all your business partners, bosses, and coworkers if you do NOT stay organized. Much of life, is showing up, after all.
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The secret sauce and most essential piece to making this ambitious lifestyle succeed is to surround yourself with successful mentors and encouraging people. As I touched on earlier, environment and support is crucial. If you are going to dive headfirst into the insanity of a full time job and entrepreneur endeavor: make sure you have back up! Find mentors in your field, peers who are also going through the highs and lows of starting off as entrepreneurs. Create healthy relationships with your support system early on: ask for advice, but also lend a hand and resources when needed. When you find yourself at those low—which you will—you will have someone to call to get you back on track.
4. Self Care
Last, but not least, is self care. Remember, at the end of the day, you are embarking on this entrepreneurship journey to improve your life. Don’t let it stress you out to the point where you feel overwhelmed. Set healthy boundaries. Allow yourself space to say “no” or “I need a time extension” for some tasks. Then deliver above and beyond with the extra time. Boundaries also mean you will not work one day a week, or you will take time to exercise 3 days a week, or you will go for a hike once a week with a group of friends. Whatever your “self care” goal is, make it just as much of a habit and routine as the rest of it. Set aside time for it in your calendar, and honor it as you would any work commitment. This may be just a small, part of your week. Whatever it is, it should leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. That way, you are able to come back to the new week with your head clear and your eyes on the prize!