“Just one more load of laundry,” I thought to myself as I procrastinated on a Saturday afternoon.
Then I did the dishes, organized my closet, made a few phone calls — and lo and behold, the day was done.
Yet, I hadn’t put a dent in my growing pile of writing assignments.
It was then I realized something had to change. I began to study what successful CEOs do to stay productive. After all, technically, I was (and I still am) the CEO of my own freelance writing business. Sure, I’m the only employee. And my office is tucked in a basement — but that doesn’t mean my work is a hobby. In fact, it’s all the more reason for me to act like a CEO.
After carefully observing a few CEOs, I discovered 5 habits they all have in common. Then I started incorporating these habits into my own life. And right away, I felt more organized and productive.
They have a clear mission.
Great CEOs know where they’ve been and where they’re going. When Steve Jobs was CEO of Apple, he operated under the mission, “To make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.” Jobs had a greater purpose in mind — and as a result, his company changed our world.
What do you want to accomplish? Do you have a greater purpose in mind? Whether you're a graphic designer, bookkeeper, massage therapist, or interior designer — here are a few questions to ask to help you craft the perfect mission statement.
Then make sure you live out your mission. Your customers will notice — and your business will reap the reward.
They follow a daily routine.
I used to get up in the morning and walk directly to my desk. No shower. No breakfast. Before I knew it, I felt discouraged, unproductive, and disheveled. It was noon and I was still wearing pajama pants.
That’s not how great CEOs operate.
They get up early, exercise, and enjoy quiet time, either through meditation or reading. Now, to be honest, I still struggle with this. However, I’ve noticed that when I get up early, go for a walk, and eat a healthy breakfast, I’m more productive. The writing flows easily, I’m in a better mood, and I feel accomplished.
Everyone’s daily routine looks a little different, so you have to do what works for you. But here are a few ideas:
They stay on top of the market.
When you’re at home, it’s easy to lose touch with industry trends and the market. That’s why it’s so important to spend time studying your industry every day. The most successful CEOs read blogs and news articles, look at trending topics on social media, subscribe to trade journals and magazines, and attend networking events.
Personally, I listen to podcasts about copywriting, marketing, and business ownership. I also follow Twitter and Facebook like a hawk, and read blogs on marketing trends. This keeps me energized and helps me offer the latest advice to my clients.
They deal with distraction.
When you work out of your home, it’s easy to get distracted. You walk by a pile of laundry and dishes. The kids pop into your office. The doorbell rings. Dogs bark. You get the idea.
Fortunately, you can minimize distractions. Trust me, I have a home business despite living with a husband who works from home, two very large (and loud) dogs, and a baby boy. Here’s what I’ve found to help:
Treat your home like you commute to work. Carve out a separate time of the day to tackle laundry, cooking, and other household tasks.
Get childcare! Trust me. There’s nothing worse than scheduling a conference call with a crying baby in the background. It’s tough to juggle motherhood and a home business.
Create an office space. Whether it’s the corner of a room or a separate room, you need a space to call your own. Have fun designing it, and add plants, pictures, and objects that inspire you.
Communicate with family. When my office door is shut, it’s a “do not enter zone.” If my husband needs me and it’s urgent, he sends me a text. Talk to your family about the importance of your business and how they can help you focus.
Carve out time for personal relationships. I live by the motto, work hard, play hard. That means that as much as I work, I also schedule time for my husband, son, friends, and other family members. Once a week, my mom visits and we talk while she plays with my son. My husband and I try to shut off at the same time to have dinner together. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re both learning that rest and relationship building is just as important as work.
They get a good night of sleep.
Sleep is vital for our health, productivity, and creativity. In fact, you should consider sleeping well as integral to your business’s success. To get a better night of sleep:
Set your bedtime. It’s easy to work into the wee hours of the night when you have a home business. To help you sleep, set a bedtime and shut off at least 2 hours earlier.
Take a warm shower or bath. Science confirms it — warm showers and baths help calm us down. The warm water raises our body temperature. When we step out of a shower or bath, our body temperature lowers, getting us ready for sleep.
Turn off devices. No more bringing your cell phone to bed, even if you receive late-night emails. Blue light messes with sleep. Plus, those emails will still be there in the morning.
And finally, take a moment before bed to reflect on the day. It’s not easy to run a home business — but you’re doing it. You’re juggling personal and professional priorities under the same roof.
And that’s something you should be very proud of!
I earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (go Bucky). After realizing my first job might involve carrying a police scanner at 2 am in pursuit of “newsworthy” crimes, I decided I was better suited for freelance blogging and marketing writing. Since 2010, I’ve owned my freelance writing business, EST Creative. When I’m not penning, doodling ideas, or chatting with clients, you’ll find me hiking with my husband, baby boy, and 2 mischievous mutts.
Emily writes on a number of topics such as entrepreneurship, small business networking, and budgeting.
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