How to Work for Yourself
How to Work for Yourself

How to Work for Yourself

The access to information via the internet has given nearly everyone the ability to learn how to start and finish a creative project. If that's true, why doesn't everyone have a side business, a self-published book and a well-trafficked blog? My theory is that most people who want to create a new project don't have the skills in time management, energy management, life priority management and planning to get the project off the ground. (Location 10)

2. Prepare everything you need for the morning ahead of time. The evening tends to be a time of relaxation. After work, you might catch a few hours of TV before you brush your teeth and roll into bed. Instead of getting your nighttime z's as quickly as possible, replace a few minutes of TV with approximately five minutes of typical morning activities. During this time, you can set aside your clothes for the following morning, do any ironing you need to do, make lunches for your kids, write your to-do list or any other standard morning activities. The morning is an effective and creative time to get work completed. If you can skip a few minutes of morning tasks and complete them when you weren't doing much in the first place, you'll find even more time to brainstorm and create. (Location 40)

4. Eat a quick, cold and healthy breakfast. Breakfast can be a very delicious meal and many people like to eat eggs, pancakes and other home-cooked meals. You can save approximately five minutes per day if you opt for a cold and healthy breakfast with items such as fruit, cereal and protein bars. My typical breakfast is an apple, a untoasted piece of bread with some Omega-3 margarine and a high-fiber protein bar. The meal takes me less than a minute to make and gives me a few extra minutes to concentrate on my work in the morning. The meal is also nutritious and keeps me from being weighed down during the rest of my morning. My meal might not be right for you, but if you spend a little less time re-creating a delicious, brunch-worthy spread, you'll have five more minutes to work on your business, book or blog. (Location 53)

7. Wear shoes that were made for walking and that's just what they'll do. There is nothing wrong with carrying around two pairs of shoes. If you are a stylish person or you work at a place that requires you to wear slow, uncomfortable footwear, you can save at least five minutes by wearing sneakers or tennis shoes for as much of the day as possible. Comfortable shoes and a quickened pace can get you where you want to go much more quickly. There's no shame in changing into your "designer" shoes a few blocks away from the office. If you're able to move faster, you'll be able to do more. It's as simple as that. (Location 70)

10. Go to bed five minutes earlier every day. The funny thing about trying to go to bed five minutes earlier each day is that this trick often saves a half hour or more. When you set a strict "lights out" time, you'll find you're much less prone to stay up for that last late-night monologue joke or check your e-mail for the millionth time just to make sure. Over the course of the week, shooting for five minutes more of extra sleep may end up saving you more than an hour. Try to get your significant other on board and the two of you may even be able to enjoy some more alone time. (Location 86)

12. Be an emotional rock. Many people spend too much time getting into petty arguments with their loved ones. If such bickering was excised from their lives, they might be able to save 20 minutes or more each day. Being an emotional rock does not mean having no emotions at all: it means that you don't let things get to you as much and that you use logic instead of the first emotion that pokes into your brain. This is the hardest of the 12 time savers, because it takes a lot of getting used to. (Location 95)

Cut your lunch and dinner in half. I've always liked eating. Most people do. In fact, most people like eating a little too much, hence the obesity epidemic plaguing the United States. Large portions during lunch and dinner are partly to blame for us eating too much. If you go to a restaurant for either meal, you're likely to get twice the portion you really need (if not triple the right portion for your size). Cut your portions for lunch and dinner in half and you'll get several benefits. By reducing your caloric intake, you may begin to lose weight within the first couple of weeks. Your body also won't need to expend as much energy trying to digest your food, which will make energy available for your brain. I'll take creativity over the entire burrito any day. (Location 147)

While I've participated in multiple improv comedy exercises related to nonsense, one of the best ones I ever heard was from Mick Napier, the director of Chicago's Annoyance Theater. In the exercise, he suggests pointing at items randomly and saying words out loud that have nothing to do with the object. For example, pointing at a door and saying, "cat," followed by pointing at a trashcan and saying, "twinkle, twinkle." If you notice yourself starting to create a pattern, like naming three animals in a row, make sure to change it up. I think you'll get a lot of mileage by trying this out loud or on paper. Use actual words or made-up gibberish and write or speak for at least a few minutes. You'll actually find that your brain gets tired doing this after a while. That's because this is a major workout for the brain and it will strengthen your ability to come up with good ideas. Don't ask me why it works, it just does. (Location 338)

64. Make a goal to create a small, finished product every day for 30 days. This is kind of a crazy experiment. I don't know what I'd have to do to create a product each day for an entire month. I'd probably need a full-time editor ready to make sure my books were in tip-top shape before publishing. I might need a full-time cover designer as well, or at least a cover I could adapt to multiple products. I'd also need as much free time as possible to write my tail feather off. I've seen many people accomplish this experiment in their lives. There are YouTube folks who have written and performed a new poem or song every day for an entire month (or year). A friend of mine here in Chicago created a new comedy sketch every day for a whole year. The point is that people are doing it and if it makes sense for your project, you should make an effort to be ridiculously productive in one month's time. (Location 420)

90. Remember that a finished product is more important than a perfect one. Guy Kawasaki, the author of Art of the Start, said that getting your project to market quickly is very important. If there are some problems with the product, you can fix them later. As a person who has put out more than 30 products on Amazon, I have to agree with Kawasaki on this one. Perfectionism is an enemy to finishing your first project, and finishing your first project is the key to finishing multiple projects. Do the best you can with the time you have, but you should put your product out there for the world to see. (Location 568)

John Riddle, an awesome author I met a few years ago at a conference, said that you should spend 20 percent of your time writing and 80 percent of your time marketing. (Location 575)

Fail a lot until you find a success. Then create products related to the success for weeks, months and years. Some people only need one success and can continue to build off of it for a lifetime. (Location 644)