If you’re a student, becoming your own boss must have such a powerful allure on you. And it’s no wonder why. You’ll get to decide when you work and how much; you’ll be in control over your workload.
Or, so you might think. In reality, running a small venture is akin to having a full-time job, at best. And even if you are a freelancer and get paid per task or hour, you might not have the luxury of working just a couple of hours per day. Someone has to pay those bills, right?
All in all, being your own boss might not be as perfect as some make it out to be. That’s especially true if you don’t want to compromise your grades or jeopardize your chances of graduating.
So, how do you manage this tough balancing act? Here are seven tried-and-tested tips that’ll help you come out at the top of your game both in class and in business.
Take stock of your current workload, both academic and entrepreneurial. Then, sort the usual tasks on your to-do list into three lists:
- Have to be done by you. You know that you’re the only person who can do this, and there’s no way to automate the task. For example, only you can take that test or negotiate a good deal with a new supplier.
- Can be outsourced. You can offload your low-priority tasks to professionals. For example, you can get some of your homework done at Essaypro.com or hire a freelance accountant for your business. This way, you’ll be able to focus on what matters the most!
- Can be (semi-)automated. See if certain tools can facilitate your most time-consuming tasks. For example, accounting software can make filing reports as easy as a couple of clicks.
Thanks to the pandemic, most schools offer tons of online classes now. But why should you opt for one, exactly?
Well, there’s one huge advantage to online classes: they’re less time-consuming. Here’s why.
- You don’t have to commute to sit in on the class in person. This means you save time on the commute itself – plus the time it takes you to get ready to head out.
- Video lectures may be pre-recorded – or you may be able to skip the Zoom lecture and watch its recording later. This way, you can study whenever it’s more convenient for you.
If you can’t say you have any time management skills yet, it’s high time you developed them. Otherwise, there’s no way you’ll be able to balance running your business and acing your classes.
But how exactly do you become a master in this domain? Here’s your mini-guide.
- Track the way you use your time. Don’t modify your behavior in any way – just write down how much time you spend on what for a week or two.
- Pinpoint wasteful use of it. Maybe, you can’t help watching three hour-long episodes of your favorite TV show in the evening. While rest is important, you’ll agree that three episodes in a row are too much, right?
- Develop new habits. For example, you can decide to limit yourself to one episode per day. Or, you can choose to read a textbook during commutes.
When it comes to planning, the calendar is your best friend. A simple to-do list is good, but you always risk adding too many items to it.
- Underestimating the time required. You think you’ll be done with this assignment in an hour, but you don’t manage to finish it that fast. To avoid this scenario, always multiply your initial estimate by 1.5x or 2x.
- Overlooking leisure. Your brain can’t be at its peak of productivity all day long. You need some rest – and some time for your hobbies, too. So, for example, schedule taking a writing course if writing is your favorite hobby.
- Neglecting your basic needs. Don’t expect yourself to be productive if you don’t sleep enough, don’t eat well, and/or don’t exercise.
- Scheduling your day up to a minute. Life is too unpredictable for that. So, keep an hour or two of your day free to deal with unexpected tasks or emergencies.
The logic here is simple: the more productive you are, the more you can get done in a given period. And you won’t be able to succeed at combining your studies with running a business without mastering your productivity first.
You might think you have no control over when you’re productive and when you’re not. But that’s not 100% true.
In reality, you can set yourself up for being productive with certain triggers. Here are some of the most common triggers that can put you in a productive mood:
- putting on an energizing playlist;
- settling in a place dedicated to work and work only;
- having a cup of coffee by your side;
- switching to a work-related layout on your desktop.
Besides that, remember to take breaks every hour or so. It’ll let your brain rest a bit, so you’ll be better equipped for finishing the marathon of study and work.
If you’re serious about your venture, why not choose classes that can help you get better at running it? This way, you won’t be just working towards a degree – you’ll be learning how to be a better entrepreneur. This is probably a business opportunity you haven’t given much thought to!
Just think about the current state of your business. What are the most challenging parts of running it for you? What do you find difficult? Where do you think you lack skills or knowledge?
For example, if you don’t seem to succeed at promoting your product, go ahead and sign up for a marketing class. Or, if you still don’t have a business plan (or you need to polish it off), why not take a course that would teach you to do it?
People procrastinate for many reasons. Sometimes, the task seems too huge and, therefore, intimidating. Sometimes, however, it’s all about fatigue: your brain demands a change in the activity.
In the latter case, why not use it to your advantage? If you don’t feel like working on the task at hand, look at your plan for the day and choose a different one to do instead.
For example, if you need to switch gears because you can’t focus on writing that essay, you can do something business-related instead. Let your creative juices flow by making images for social media. Or do something more ‘mindless’: fill out invoices, pack the new orders, etc. You get the idea.
Ideally, if you follow these tips, you’ll be able to be your own boss and remain a good student at the same time. And don’t get this wrong: plenty of people manage to do so.
But at some point, you might have to choose between either your business or your studies. So, to avoid panic when you face such a decision, set your priorities straight in advance. Which one is more important to you? (Remember: there’s no wrong answer to this question.)