Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

My current recipe for success: 2 months of being self-employed

Happy anniversary to me! I’m officially two months post-op, post-quit, post leaving my full-time job and working for myself. Yeah.

I asked myself: what can I write in 34 minutes before the parking meter is up on my car? The answer? My current recipe for success as someone self-employed.

I quit my full-time job on February 18th, and since then, I’ve been trying a plethora of routines, timing, and adjustments to get the most out of my days. I had a lot of productivity feelings around working for 5–8 hours a day, five days a week, and have since refined my definition of what productivity needs to look like in my universe.

So right now, I follow the wave of productivity that I feel every week and wanted to share my advice for anyone who may be new to being self-employed and looking to create structure in their days.

Early birds have early brains: figure out your prime time and get up before then.

From experience, my hot//badass/brain on fire time is between 9 am-1 pm every day. So Mondays and Tuesdays, at the start of the week, are the BEST time for me to knock stuff off my to-do list. So I get up at 8:30 am every day, shower, and then on Mondays and Tuesdays, I head to a local coffee shop for breakfast coffee and start checking emails and making my to-do list for the day.

I’m trying to consume approx 30 mg of protein within the first 45 minutes of waking up because it sets my brain up for success, so for the past few weeks, I’ve been having an egg wrap, some bakery items, and an iced coffee with creamer at my local coffee spot. I bring my work notebooks, headphones, and laptop and start clicking away. The coffee shop is busy enough and distracting enough. It soothes my need for stimulation, and I can focus on my work.

After my parking meter runs out after 2 hours, I’m usually due for a break, and I either head home or run an errand like swinging by the library or the local Asian market for yellow mangoes or thai tea. After that, I head home and check the mail.

I structure my days around being up early because I know that’s when I want to work. I love sleeping in and appreciate it more when I know I’ve been getting up early and getting shit done. I am more likely to empty the litter box, take out the trash, and even check my bank account if it’s on my AM to-do list versus PM — so I follow the worm as an early bird and use my early morning brain to get shit done.

As a part of this series, a recipe for success, your first ingredient needs to be centered around your hot brain time. Within reason, how can you create a time block when you feel the most clarity, and how can you protect that time for work, writing, and creating?

Tips for protecting your hot brain time:

No meetings. I no longer take morning meetings at the start of my week because that’s MY time to shine, and I can’t do that if I’m fretting or prepping for an appointment. This is something I have had control over since I set my schedule. If your schedule is reliant on others, try to create a ritual or pattern, so you know how to cue yourself up for YOU during hot brain time.

Be awake and ready for hot brain time BEFORE it’s hot brain time.

I learned this one the hard way. If I get up at 11 am, my day will drag on as a morning person. I’ll still be productive, but it isn’t worth the extra sleep because I get LESS done and guilt myself more for taking an afternoon break — don’t be like me, kids. Determine when your hot brain time is, and get up before then. Then, be ready, have your coffee, tea, breakfast, protein shake or work out BEFORE that timeframe to focus on a good 1.5–2 hours.

Set a timer for hot brain time

A brilliant coach reminded me that it’s essential to reward and incentivize myself for work completed. So I work for 1.5–2 hours at my local coffee shop, which feels like a treat since I don’t have to make myself breakfast or coffee. Then I head home and do something else that does not work. I typically then have a few meetings and take lunch and watch some youtube or play a video game. I do this because I will be fresher and have switched creative gears in my brain long enough that I’m ready to be decisive and innovative for my next task. Take breaks! You’ve earned them. Set a timer and get up and do something else.

Work with me

Love these tips? I’d love to connect! I’m a business coach, nonbinary writer, and professional hype person. Learn more about my work here at www.itsjustliz.com.

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