Jakub Koziol
Web developer turned ____ designer. (more...)

Three Years Of Working On My Own

Learn from my mistakes

Here's the list of things I find important when you're working on your own, especially if you're just starting. It took me over 3 years and a serious depression to learn some of these. I hope you'll do better than me.

Choose to rest

It was probably the most important lesson I had to learn. Your body has limits. No really! You have to recharge batteries, if you don't do it your body will force you to.

More time spent working doesn't always make you more productive. By making a conscious decision of taking a break you're choosing to turn procrastination into something useful.

Your body will give you signals, learn to understand them. If needed split your work hours (you're the boss!) take longer breaks and in the long run never cut on sleep.

Social life

Meet people. You're working alone or in a small team and you used to see more people more often. Even if you're an introvert contact with people is important to maintain your mental health.

Feed your brain

You can't expect to be creative if you're doing the same thing over and over. Your brain needs fuel to work correctly. Do new things, find new places, meet new people. You're working on your own, you're no longer forced to do things - you have to put effort into that.

Write things down

Write down your thought process, things you need to do, anything that would otherwise sit in your head. It will help you make sure that you understand what you're doing and let you catch holes in your logic early. It will also help you free up your mind - you don't have to care about trying to remember that cool thing because you have it safe on paper.

Finish tasks

Split your to-do lists into smaller tasks. Of course you're going to avoid certain tasks if you don't have an idea where to start. Every day take your time to plan what you need to do and then split those tasks into smaller ones.

If you feel like you're stuck maybe it's a good time to go through your list again.

You'll waste way less time thinking what's next. and crossing many items from the list feels nice and productive.

Make to-done lists

Usually, on your to-do list, you'll have more than it's possible to finish within a day. And on top of that you often have to do other unexpected things.

Add things that you did to your to-do list and cross them. Even after you finished them. You'll feel better, more productive and at the end of the day you'll see what you did and why it was impossible to tackle the whole list. In the long run you can use it as a tool to learn how to scope better.

Don't fear to change your decisions

You gain knowledge with time. Use it.

Find what works for you

You are unique. You'll need time to understand what works for you.

Seek advice but never blindly assume that it's correct for you. In that case 'good' is always relative so don't worry if something clearly doesn't work for you. Look further instead. Tweak things, work on your habits. Productivity is a skill you can learn with time.

Bonus round

posted: 20 March 2015