Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category
I’m speaking both literally and figuratively, friends. It’s been two and a half weeks since I shattered my wrist and I’m finally starting to get back to work, albeit hampered by my broken wing.
So what do you recommend as my first steps to ensure the most productive use of my time? What do you tackle first after a long vacation or other kind of work break? I’m eager for your advice.Â And I’m sure your ideas will help ALL our members.
Let’s face it: It takes guts to own your own business. And creativity. Lots of stick-to-it-iveness. A big heart. The ability to manage people, and to hunt for the best collaborators and nurture those relationships.
That’s a gift. I don’t know how many of you think of it that way, but trust me - it is. Those of us who choose to go out on our own are WAY outnumbered by those who prefer to have a boss. Of course, I’m not saying one way is better than the other. They’re just different.
But that ability you have is precious, and needs to be guarded. A friend of mine calls it the “curse of competence.” Unfortunately, there are…and will always be…plenty of people who want to steal that gift. They are the people who ask for guidance and help, yet never offer the same in return. They are the people who receive your referral and instead of being gracious, they ask if you have more clients you can refer. They’re the ones who want to have long, circular conversations about how to grow their business, but never really take the challenging next steps, and keep coming back with their frustrations.
These folks may be good (if misguided) souls, but you can’t let them suck you dry. How do you protect yourself? A couple things I do:
And to make sure I don’t become one of those soul-sucking folks myself (hey, no one’s perfect), I always try to remember that when someone helps me, I want to do the same for them if possible. I don’t keep a meticulous list, but I think of those folks often and try to do good things for them whenever I can.
So I’m curious - have any of you run into the same issue? I’m sure you have. How do you protect your valuable time, energy and ideas - your gift?
Many of us are lax in our time tracking (you know who you are!) however it can be detrimental to your billings. From the HOW magazine website come these 5 simple tips:
Charge for Enough of Your Time by David C. Baker (click link for full article)
I use a desk calendar to record time spent per project, then transcribe to individual timesheets. My goal is to be more diligent about recording non-client work, which is also important to keep check on.
How does everyone else handle time tracking?
An ideaXchanger asked me this question, so I thought I’d post here for everyone to get in on the discussion, especially for those who are into GTD.
First, I’ve been in goals partnerships of some sort for over 5 years and have found them indispensable. In short, a goals partnership helps two or more people achieve their goals in a mutually supportive and accountable arrangement. It’s a two-way exchange, whereas professional coaching is better if you need to focus solely on your own goals. You can set it up in any number of ways. Some are more organized and linear; some are more brainstormy and collaborative.
To put it bluntly: I am completely overloaded. Between regular workload, trying to create new creative ventures, the holidays, travel, family commitments, a recent bout of severe food poisoning that forced me to push back a couple of client deadlines, tons of activity at our condo reconstruction (necessitating loads of paperwork and on-site visits by me)… I am absolutely overwhelmed.
So I’m considering outsourcing some things, but I have no idea where to start. I would love to hand off my Quickbooks work, some of the email answering, mail opening, bill paying, etc. And perhaps some of the day-to-day chores like dry cleaning, groceries (wait, Peapod!), car wash and gas, etc. Anything to take a little of the load off.
Fill me in: What do you outsource? I want to know details: how you decided what to outsource, who you use, how you work with your delegates, what you pay (you can email me directly if you like) etc. Thanks!
Perhaps you noticed, kind readers, that this week’s theme is posted a couple days late. Why? Because I’m on overload - too many things to do, and not enough time to do them. And this isn’t the kind of overload that can be solved with a little time management - it’s TRUE overload, with an abundance of responsibilities and simply not enough hours in the day.
Hundreds of emails coming in daily (not including the junk!). A foot-high stack of filing still to be done since moving post-microburst (using my fancy new temporary filing system, comprised of cardboard moving boxes). Juggling three clients (one of whom is brand new, so I’m still feeling him out.) Plus: the weirdness of adjusting to living in a completely different place; the need to drive across town three times a week to pick up my business mail at the PO box (which used to be a 10-minute trip from our condo); the emotional ups and downs I face each day with insurance paperwork and reconstruction updates and decisions; and a darn virus. Whew!
Thus: Overload. How to deal with it? The past few days, I’ve simply tried to focus my priorities and do the things that MUST be done, which unfortunately leaves many other things undone. My hope is that by this weekend, my virus friend will be gone, and I can use my weekend energy to catch up.
My question to you is this: How do you deal with overload? I know we all face it at one point or another, and I would love to know how you handle it. Do you hire out? (This guy at 43 Folders recommends it.) Bring in an intern? Accept that some things fall through the cracks? Create an intricate flow chart of tasks and responsibilities? Curl up in a ball and whimper? I want to know!
Take time out to read this article on multi-tasking from the American Management Association. Good tips on managing workflow and corralling interruptions.
I’m walking down the street when I have this great idea. So I whip out my trusty cell phone, speed dial #6, and a woman’s voice answers right away:
Woman: Who do you want to Jott?
Woman: Jott what you think. (BEEP!)
Me: Let the folks in ideaXchange know about Jott.
Woman: Got it.
Next time I check my email, I get a transcribed email with my “Jott” - and a link to the audio version should the transcription be a little off (but it’s usually really good).
Enter the incredibly useful, and FREE, service call Jott. The days of stressing over remembering something to do when I’m away from my computer are gone. All I need is my cell phone, and I can quickly and soooo easily capture those ideas right away, and then stop stressing about remembering them later. Since I use my computer and email for all my to-do lists, reminders, etc. - this is a better, and faster, way of recording short notes than lugging around a laptop, PDA, or even a notebook. All my “Jotts” arrive in my email, and I can then process them accordingly. Accidentally deleted a Jott? They’re archived on the website, and I also get a Daily Jott journal with a list of all my Jotts for the day.
This can also be used as a collaborative tool. You can setup other contacts, and when asked “Who do you want to Jott?” you can Jott Mom or Jethro or whoever else has been setup in the system (though I’ve just been jotting myself - sometimes numerous times a day).
Folks, I can’t tell you how awesome this is - especially with life being as hectic as it is (running a growing biz, planning a wedding, honeymoon, meetings, stuff to buy at the store, design/writing ideas, etc.). And if you’re a GTD person, this is especially perfect.
So when you’re out and about and need to note something - Jott it down, and then stop worrying about it.
43 Folders mentions an article by Guy Kawasaki on how to write a 5-sentence email, one of ten things he says all businesspeople should know how to do. Some of the others: how to leave a voicemail, how to write a one-page report, how to conduct a meeting. (No jokes about that last one, people!)
Sounds basic, yes. But his ideas are spot-on - for those of us without bosses, it’s easy to let ourselves go unchecked. I know I’ve already written an email this morning that went longer than a page, and I wish I could pull it back and condense it. Perhaps my client wishes the same thing!
Change is a wonderful Week 1 topic on this here blog, since many of us have been dying to get into the blogging game. Now we have a terrific way to do it!
I’ve instituted several new things lately designed to get new clients and manage the ones I have. For several months I’ve been a member of Freelance Success, a forum for practicing journalists and some corporate writing types (including our very own Anne Ford!). The people in this group are some amazing examples and resources, and I’ve utilized their advice on everything from book proposals, bidding projects, and especially the intricacies of magazine pitching. I can definitely say that I’ve got some trade magazine jobs in the last few months because of what I’ve learned on the forum.
Several times a year they hold a “Query Challenge,” a friendly competition designed to encourage more productive and frequent magazine pitching, with the end goal of more magazine assignments. The current challenge starts this week, and I’ve signed up. I am determined to send out more, better queries, and get some assignments from national magazines! My goal is at least one query a day, and so far it’s tough, but rewarding.
In the meantime, I’m still focusing on my growing roster of marketing/corporate clients. I’m getting a lot of work lately, which is terrific. But its taxing my organization abilities. And that brings me to another big change I’m working with. I just picked up Getting Things Done by David Allen. I’ve been seeing his name and “GTD” on blogs everywhere, with lots of support. I’m always leery to buy things by “gurus,” because of the culty connotations But so far I’m really jazzed about the book. Some very practical and relatively simple recommendations for organizing not only my professional life but personal.
Anyone else had experience with GTD or similar systems?