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My beautiful and talented friend, Sharon French McMillan, has just been exploding her freelance business. On top of that, she still has a full-time job! Understandably, her big challenged used to be how to expand her business without working well into the night, or burning herself out. Well, that is no longer an issue for Sharon. Her freelancing biz is now bigger, but Sharon is happier than ever. I just had to ask her to share her secret with Savvy Freelancer readers. Here they are:
If you’re tired of asking yourself “Where did the day go?” I’ve got some proven and practical suggestions for increasing your productivity. It’s not rocket science but it comes from years of trial and error.
When my kids were small I was somehow able to care for their needs, coordinate their activities, manage multiple freelancing gigs, succeed at a full-time job and maintain our household.
Since I’m not Wonder Woman you should know that I had tremendous help from my husband with the kids and the household part, but by and large I was a busy person.
Today, my two kids are young adults living away from home. I have more free time than I’ve had in years… yet I still found myself at the end of each day playing catch up and absolutely hating that feeling of never keeping up!
That sense of never reaching your full potential because of being in constant “catch-up” mode can be demoralizing if you’re an A-type personality with inspiring and profitable plans. I finally decided that I couldn’t read one more time management book and that the time for action had arrived.
I’m being brutally honest when I say the minute I took intentional and decisive control of my schedule and actions, things turned around and new clients and lucrative projects seemed to just appear.
Of course opportunity doesn’t just appear all of a sudden. It is always before us, we just have to get focused and consistent enough grasp it.
So here are my top five strategies for increasing your productivity:
- Identify your business priorities for the month and week and make sure they are aligned to your business plan goals. This involves both big picture thinking and more detailed task assessment.
For example: if your goal this year is to increase your annual income by $20K then break that down into monthly increments and figure out what projects need to be completed on a monthly basis to meet your monthly revenue goal. Then break that project down into weekly tasks.
So if speaking at local business groups is one of the ways you’ve identified as a means of creating new business, plan a public speaking engagement on a monthly basis. Then break down the tasks involved in getting that done – e.g., identifying speaking opportunities, preparing your presentation, and following up with leads. Make each of those actions a priority task for the week.
- Create no more than 5 “must-do” tasks for the day. Five is a manageable number. The more you feel control over the work you complete on time, the more motivated you will be. Motivation is a big part of your success – especially if you work as a solopreneur/freelancer. You don’t have a team or colleagues to keep you energized and positive when inevitable challenges arise.
- Fiercely protect your schedule from others and yourself! Once you’ve got your day planned and appointments booked, don’t let distractions at home, in the office or on Facebook take you away from that plan. If you booked a 1-hour consultation with a client, stick to the one hour. No matter how tempting it is to justify changing your schedule – don’t!! Family needs and emergencies will always happen, and you will need to drop things to address those priorities, but those occurrences will be the exception and not usually the norm.
- Plan your tasks for the next day at the END of the current day. While you have your priorities already identified for the week and month, your detailed tasks for each day will without question change based on the opportunities and challenges that arise each day. For this reason, doing your planning at the end of the day is the perfect way to ensure you’re working strategically and effectively. What you want to avoid is starting the next day without a clear idea of what you really need to attack first.
- Finally, you need to block time for visioning. You can’t be busy 24-7. At least once a week you need to block out time to look at what you’ve achieved that week and how the work you’re doing is supporting your major priorities and your VISION for your business and yourself. Taking time to do this is another motivator that will help you to see opportunities and angles for improving your business that you might not otherwise see when you’re in constant “busy” mode.
Following these five simple actions has helped me to find more energy, focus and business opportunities! I hope it does the same for you.
About the Author: For almost 20 years, Sharon McMillan has helped small businesses and organizations to market products, services and ideas. She uses her passion for growing local markets and online marketing to create profitable solutions for people and communities. You can find her at FreshCityMarketing.com.