Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Location Independents: Have A More Productive Day, Not Week.

photo by Cowe
Being a location independent comes with some really amazing perks like working on my incredibly comfortable couch and being able to go to the gym when no one else is there (this is a really big perk for me since I absolutely cannot stand waiting for workout machines.  Traffic? no problem.  Waiting rooms? fine.  Waiting for an elliptical machine is like a tiny death for me).
Being able to work from anywhere does present some interesting obstacles when it comes to creating a schedule for yourself though.  When I wrote recently about my confusion at how I wanted to run my business some of that was just confusion about what to do at what time of day.  Being a location independent means that you have to decide how much time you're going to spend on any given thing.  This sounds easy but trust me, it's not.  For example, how many hours a day should I spend staying current on social media trends?  How many hours should I spend on a pressing project if I also need to spend time finding new projects?  There is no boss to tell me that I'm spending too much time in one place and not enough in another.  Until I came to my December realization:
Break down your tasks into days and not weeks.
The way I was setting it up previously was like most offices do: plan out my week.  This just doesn't work that well for freelancers and location independents because we don't just have projects to worry about.  We have to factor in new business development, web maintenance, networking, billing, and anything else that pops up.  This is how I fixed mine.
1) Determine your goals and the percentage of time you want to spend on them.  For me it ended up being 40% project work, 30% writing, speaking engagement planning, and staying in contact with my network, and 20% upkeep of knowledge and new business development, and 10% new site building, accounting, etc.
2) Decide which things should have the most weight.  Things that pay me or are going to pay me (new biz dev.) are likely going to have the most demanding timelines so those will have to have sufficient time in the day when I am most productive.
3) Plan your day accordingly.  If you know what percentage you want to spend on your goals you know how much time a day you should be doing things.  Not every day is going to fit perfectly but most do.  It was so amazing how much better this method has been working for me, how many more things I am getting done, and how much happier I am.  What was happening before is I would not be doing any business development until ALL of my projects were completely done.  This is crazy by the way and should not be attempted.  If new business development is going to be 20% of your business than it should be 20% of your day every day.   

By planning my day like a microcosm of my whole business things have been running a whole lot smoother from wherever it is I'm working.  Any other location independents have any good tips for planning your work day / week?


Blogger Royce said...

I'm not location independent but I do have a question with one thing that I have particular trouble with - how do you carry over your ongoing projects from day to day with this schedule?

The thing I am by far the crappiest at is taking my notes / files from an ongoing project and keeping it rolling from day to day. This is especially true when a workday is interrupted by other events (meetings, random events, etc). I have tried to string it together with long-term planning, copious note-taking, renewing to-do lists, etc. but so far nothing has worked great.

Any suggestions on this front? How do you keep it organized and keep yourself mentally in the right place for each project?

January 8, 2010 at 11:44 AM  
Blogger Caitlin said...

The way I deal with long projects is just work on them in the time that I have for that day and if it's not done then I finish it the next day. My problem was I would do 1 thing all day and then complain that I didn't get the other stuff done.

January 8, 2010 at 2:31 PM  

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