[tweetmeme]One of the most important challenges of being your own boss is to focus long enough on a task until completion. Do not distract and finish your commitments in time, but there are too many distractions; email, banks, projects, etc.

For 10 years I have tried different methods, taken courses in management by objectives, use of agendas and only recently (6 months) I have  implemented a system that has increased my productivity by 40% at least.

This system is a mixture of techniques I’ve learned over time, basically: working in segments and allocating time.

1. Dividing the day in different tasks.

As a business owner I have different activities that meet daily and I cannot slow down. Based on the workflow I divide the day into segments even for preparing coffee. This has the advantage that your colleagues know at a certain time what you are doing.

A normal day of work is divided as follows:

  • 8:20 to 9:00 a.m. Making coffee, read articles and answer mails.
  • 9 to 10 a.m. write articles for my blog or any related matter.
  • 10 to 11 a.m. Check banks, payments and receipts
  • 11 to 12 p.m. Internal projects, meetings
  • 12 to 1 pm Design
  • 1 to 2 pm Design
  • 2 to 3 pm lunch
  • 3 to 4 pm design
  • 4 to 5 pm design
  • 5 to 6 pm blog

This division of activities serves as a daily guide. When I have a meeting with a client, or some unforeseen I can skip this activity knowing that I am on the day.

2. Working in periods of 50 minutes and rest 10.

Each activity is divided into periods of one hour. The idea is to work continuously for 50 minutes and rest for 10. The golden rule is that they must be 50 productive minutes without distractions. During the 10 minutes lapse you can listen to music, read and answer mail, get up to walk.

3. Disconnect.

During periods of 50 minutes DISCONNECT. This is possibly the most difficult to do. The idea is to have no interruptions, close the mail, facebook, chat and anything that may cause distractions and focus during 50 minutes. In the ten left you can check mails and connect.

In focus manifesto I found a wonderful chapter on the subject: http://focusmanifesto.com/the-beauty-of-disconnection/

4. Don’t do to-do lists.

Best do list of projects. For example when I have two or three different design projects I work in each one to completion. If you’re a designer, You Already Have an idea of What You must be working on in a project. You do not need a list. You just need to forget about the list, and get working.

5. Take breaks.

In the 10 minutes periods, there are times when I lie down and just close my eyes for 10 minutes, sometimes I walk out or do any activity to change my state of mind and recharge batteries to continue.

6. Play Music

as a designer there is nothing that inspires me more than music. Even I have different play list depending on my mood, even some for certain types of work, writing, web design, advertising.

7. Clean your place.

I know, Been there, sometimes it is impossible keep your place tidy. But sometimes it is impossible to work in such a disorder, you can’t concentrate. Try to clean your place once or twice daily.

8. Lighting.

It is important to have a well lit, in case your office does not have a good natural light, use a desk lamp with adequate lighting.

9. Keep nothing on your desk but what you need.

In my case I managed to work only with:

  • My sketches block
  • Pencil
  • My computer
  • Photos of my family.

Any other element I have it in a bookcase in my back.  At the time I finish using something I get it out of my desk.

10. Be like water my friend,

This is my favorite (Yes. … I’m a Bruce Lee fan)

All the above does not work if you cannot adapt. The 9 points are just a guide in the day-to-day work. But if there is any unexpected event that breaks any of the 9 points I don’t get stressed, I just adapt and flow with the moment. The fact of having done my homework every day gives me the security and I can flow with the moment and then return to my usual duties.

I hope these tips serve you.

If you have a particular method, please share with us:

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Javier Cantero

Javier Cantero