It's damn hard. Way harder than self-help books and cute inspirational phrases on pinterest would have you believe.
We live in a world of constant distractions. If it's not social media, it's TV. Or iPhone games. Or the dozens of books on our e-readers. Or endless YouTube videos. Or text messages. Or Netflix. Or the phone ringing all the time. Or your pets begging to be fed, played with, or petted.
I could go on, but you get my point. We're constantly bombarded by information and have lots of ways to distract ourselves. It's easy to fool ourselves into thinking we spend 8+ hours a day doing actual work, especially if we're self employed and no one is checking in on us. But if we sit down and track an actual work day, hour to hour, the vast majority of us are going to find we're spending a lot more time on distractions than we thought.
So what do we do?
I'm sure many of you have read those self help books, blog posts, or newsletter articles (ahem!) about time management. Books like Getting Things Done, The 4 Hour Workweek and The Now Habit are best sellers for a reason. People spend a lot of time learning techniques like Pomodoro and a lot of money on apps to help them organize their work and their lives.
But here's the real scoop: You change when you're ready to change.
We choose the distractions because they feel safer, easier, simpler. We're human. We don't like change. We like to feel comfortable. We tend to get stuck in planning things because we're afraid of what happens next. Which means we never get to the actual execution.
If you really want to move your business forward, you need to break away from that fear of change. That fear of change is also a fear of success. All the what ifs and I can'ts and unknowns are a normal part of running a small business (and really, of being human). We all worry about not being good enough, or our work not being respected, or hell, not getting paid.
But if you let the worries run your day, you're going to choose distractions instead of getting work done. It's much easier to read twitter than it is to respond to that client email asking for a project proposal and quote. It's easier to play with your dog than it is to spend a few hours calling old clients to touch base and see if they need your services again. And hey, it's easier to watch Netflix than it is to spend time working on your website content.
You can spend all the time and money in the world on time management products. But if you're letting your fears and worries run the show, you've going to keep slipping back into the same patterns.
That's what we need to work on. That's why it's so damn hard. But if we do the work, we'll be able to manage our time and our businesses way more effectively.