Oh… It's the end of the work week here (assuming you actually only work Monday to Friday 9-to-5). If you haven't actually landed a new client this week don't worry. This whole exercise was to bring you along on my own process and ideas. Hopefully you've been moving forward towards landing some new clients at least! I haven't gotten any new clients either, but I do have a few phone calls / interviews set up which is more than I had on my plate this past Monday morning.
What I wanted to cover today is scheduling our time. I hear a lot of people tell me they work 'in' their business and not 'on' their business. We need both that's just how it is. This is the juggle of being a freelancer, small business, indie. We need to work on getting business as well as doing business – and then all the things we need to do to keep the plates spinning like invoicing, taxes, paying bills, furthering our knowledge and education. All the 'stuff' that just has to happen but we don't always have the extra month to hire someone to handle for us.
I waste a lot of time as an independent business owner during the day chasing unicorns and working on other people's timeframes. Then there are the distractions… Emails. Reddit. Emails. Emails. Phone calls. Drop everything IM's from clients that sidetrack me for an entire day. So many people have told me they don't have enough work/clients/income but at the same time they can't fathom how to squeeze more time in their day to handle more work. There's time, you just need to find it. Here's what I've learned to do…
In the past I tried to write down my anticipated schedule but too many everyday interruptions threw me off my game. It was like cheating on a diet then just sitting and eating an entire bag of chips. I figured since my schedule was already wonky I would just blog the rest of my day on other wonky things (helllooooo Reddit). I also work better at 'brain' work in the early morning (go coffee go!) and find that later in the evening is better for creative big picture thinking for me. Now what I do is write out a bullet list of things I need to accomplish with dates if applicable and then just work. I now track what I've done in 30 minute increments. At the end of the week I take a look and assess what I've been accomplishing, where I've been slacking, and the major disruptors in my day/week. Now when I get to the end of the week and feel I've "done nothing" I can look back and remember. It also helps for me in some instances to show clients that no, it doesn't take 15 minutes to research, write and publish a blog post.
I use a simple spreadsheet similar to the one attached to print and write in my daily activities. I'm honest because I don't intend on showing it to anyone else, so when I get sucked into 30 minute of Gangham YouTube parodies, I fess up to myself. I am my own boss after all. Slacking off is allowed in my office for two reasons – 1) too much brainwork is physically exhausting and 2) I work very much outside of M-F 9-5 so eating 30 minutes during the day to goof off is usually met with 2 hours of additional 'make up' time over the weekend at 11pm.
Ok, ok… I've babbled on long enough. New clients. New opportunities. Who wants them? Who's created them for themselves? Who's helped others? Listen, we have to stick together no matter if you are an solopreneur like me or a team player in a company of 15,000. We all want fulfilling work, validation from our clients and peers, and a sweet paycheck.
PS – Have a happy weekend!!
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Derp. I need to do this. Thanks, lady!
+Bobbi Jo Woods the 'backwards' way of tracking my time works much better and I don't feel like such a slacker. Well, not so much as I used to anyhow 😉
I know I'm getting old when I realize I cannot count on my once-brilliant mind to remember everything (I used to be able to)…that, and Post-its surrounding me 😉
Love these big, long shares! Thanks.
+Eric Van Buskirk sometimes I use G+ as a blogging platform. 😉
I always say where does the time go and then its 1am.
At 1am people may go,but not walk!
Great minds +Lynette Young Three weeks ago I developed a very similar weekly work chart on excel. It is working a small miracle in my life. I've typed in some standard appointments and even tick-off things. Each Sunday I put in appointments and then schedule in time for content writing, new ideas, preparing for the class I teach at Rutgers. I extended mine past my regular "work day" to include all activities of my three girls so I can circle when I am the carpool driver on each. Also makes me see when two of them have to be at different places at the same time so we can reorg. I have yet to ever find a system (paper or online) that is more effective.
+Lynette Young care to share this file? On Gdocs or something?
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Apijkl7k-6A3dENEcXhycEdfeGFlbGVMMFctNXlidWc should get you there… it's read only so copy it down & modify away!
Coolio! I think it should let me do a save as.
+Jennifer Gardella my own copy of this does have recurring appointments hard coded in. In the beginning of the week I write in calendar entries I can't miss, and even track travel time. I've been bad about booking meetings etc. right up until the time I'm supposed to be someplace – meaning I'm on the phone in the car or in the airport! Boooooooooo