Photographed by Sebastian Marin.
I’m preparing to leave my job because I’ve built a successful business on the side. Having been self-employed previously, I have fears of reverting back to unproductive habits and having a lack of focus. Also, I know I’m going to miss the social component of the office. What would you suggest I do to set myself up for success?
It’s fine to acknowledge your old habits, but the operative word is “old.” Shift your focus instead to the good habits you’ve established more recently and build on those. You’ve proven to yourself that you can create structure and be effective. Carry that confidence forward. In his new book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey examines the working habits of some of history’s most creative minds. A few patterns emerge that you can apply to your self-employment.
First, create structure for yourself. Assess when you’re most productive and build your workday around that time. And, be disciplined about repeating that pattern every day.
When you’re working, avoid distractions so you can maximize your productivity. And, when you’re not working, get yourself out for a walk. (It’s surprising how many famous writers and composers relied on their daily walks to clear their minds and inspire their creativity.)
It’s equally important, particularly because you acknowledge you’ll miss the social component of working in an office, to schedule regular meetings and events with people. Use them as opportunities for networking, client entertaining, customer feedback, idea generation — anything that moves your business forward in some way and also fills your human need for connection.
Most importantly, don’t confuse the number of hours you spend at a desk with productivity. Beethoven woke at dawn and, after purposefully making his coffee (exactly 60 beans per cup), worked only until his midday meal. He then took a long afternoon walk and spent the evening out with friends or at home reading. Needless to say, no one could ever challenge his productivity.
Find a ritual that works for you and stick with it. Focus on maximum productivity during the time you’re working, get out and clear your mind when you’re not and include others in your grand new adventure.