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Have you ever:

  • Gotten to the end of your day and wondered where it went, or what you achieved?
  • Had a slow start and never really recovered the day?
  • Sat down at your desk and thought “Now what?”

My friend, you’re not alone. When you’re the boss, the buck starts and stops with you, and that’s a pretty weighty responsibility.

I’ve felt it too.

When I started my first business, a creative management agency in 2006, I was living alone in Queens, working from home for the first time, and absolutely terrified. Terrified of it not working. Terrified of letting down the roster of talent I was representing. Terrified of the isolation I feared I’d experience working alone.
I was terrified about it all.

Since I couldn’t control the outcome (as much as I would have liked to), I knew that I could control was how I structured my days and showed up. So, I made a few rules for myself:

  • No working in my PJ’s
  • No TV during the day.
  • Creating structure with short breaks outside of the house (including walking up to the main street to get coffee in the morning so I could feel like I was out in the real world).
  • Marking the end of my workday by physically leaving the house to meet a friend or get some exercise. When I returned, I was coming home, not to my place of work.

And those little hacks worked.

In my first year of business I earned more than I ever had at my full-time job, and in my second year I was ready to rent an office space in the city (back to where all the action was, hurray!).

Twelve years, another business, and two kids later, I’m still evolving my routines and habits to help me:

  • Get more done in less time.
  • Create head-space for the work that matters (rather than the faffing around with busy-work).
  • Carve out more free time in my days and life.
  • Stop my workday and not think about it (much!) until the next morning.

If you have a sneaking suspicion you’re not being as effective in your business as you could be, here are three strategies to help YOU win the day.

Have a morning routine

Now, I’m one of those annoying morning people and I appreciate that’s an advantage when it comes to this strategy, BUT you can make this work even if you’re not a morning person. The point here is not to force yourself to get up at 5.30 a.m., but to create consistency and set the tone for your day. Here are a couple things guaranteed to make your day more productive:

  • Move your body: During the year, my routine changes. Right now, I’m taking advantage of our outdoor town pool with early-bird swims a couple of times a week. During the spring, fall and winter, I run a couple of times a week. Yes, at first it’s painful getting up and exercising, but here’s what I found made all the difference between my thinking about it and actually doing it: make the decision the night before that you will run (or whatever), get your workout gear ready, and just put them on as soon as you get out of bed. You’ll just feel silly for not going if you’re already wearing running shorts and shoes!

  • Set the tone for the day you want to have: Make your bed. Dress yourself in something that makes you feel like you’re winning the day. Taking pride in the small things translates directly in how you show up in your business so be mindful of the details.

  • Establish what ONE thing you want to achieve that day: Ever found yourself at the mercy of a to-do list a mile long? Me too! But that, dear reader, is busy-work. Before you get sucked in, reflect on what ONE thing would help move your business forward. Perhaps it’s creating that piece of web copy or services page. Perhaps it’s writing a job description for your first or next hire. Make that one thing your priority and fit the other stuff around it.

Bundle your time

In the early days of my business, clients could book a call with me any day of the week, leaving me to squeeze marketing, admin, and all the other things I needed to do in between sessions. But here’s the thing about that; our brains need time to get in and out of a task (about 15 minutes each end), so multi-tasking really isn’t efficient. I now bundle my client sessions on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, keeping Tuesdays and Fridays open for marketing, admin, and working ON my business.

Do less to achieve more

Most entrepreneurs want to grow their businesses (Am I right?). Yet, the idea of working more than you already are just isn’t appealing (Right again?). As soon as you’re able to, outsource what you can.

Now, I’m in that place of considering how to transition from simply delegating to actually bringing on folks who can help me grow the business, but delegation is a good way to start. What are you doing that could easily be done by someone else? The more stuff you can outsource, the more time you have to spend in your zone of genius (generating ideas, developing concepts, building relationships, re-structuring or re-branding your business, etc.)

Justine Clay is a speaker and business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. Through a series of clear, actionable steps, Justine will teach you how to you identify what makes you stand out from the crowd, create a marketing message that resonates with your ideal clients, and build a successful and fulfilling creative business or career. Sign up for Justine’s free guide: How to Find High-Quality Clients and Get Paid What You’re Worth and start making monumental changes in your creative business or career today.