When it comes to running my business, it’s safe to say that I’ve learnt much along the way to get to this stage of feeling happy, balanced, productive and profitable. When you’re your own boss, time management sort of goes out of the window and suddenly you have to ‘work’ several roles all at once.
It wasn’t until I listened to an excellent podcast by fellow entrepreneur Lola Hoad (you must listen to One Girl Band!) that I fully accepted that my way of working would never be that of a traditional Monday to Friday, 9-5 role again. And that that was okay. Whilst of course that concept played a large part in my decision to freelance full-time, we all know that self-employment is a difficult path to navigate. I remember feeling the pressure to be at my desk for 9am on a Monday, or earlier, to compensate for the ‘lazy freelancer’ misconception, and wondering what on earth I’d done. And I equally remember working until 10pm on some evenings, determined to show to, well, nobody, that I’d worked to the bone.
Implement a daily limit to tasks and clients
Remember: you are one person. Usually.
For some of you, you may be used to a regular working routine in a structured, standard-issue office. You’re expected to multi-task and juggle several projects on the go, liaising with colleagues across multiple teams and make up those hours. I came from a similar background and tried to make that happen at home too. Wrong.
My number one mantra when it comes to anything work-related is to work smarter, not harder. Fill fewer working hours with the things that count, and reduce the faff, for want of a better word. Begin by implementing a limit to your daily tasks and/or clients. This will allow you to really focus on a select few tasks and to give your all to those wonderful clients on your roster. They’ve chosen you - yes, you! - for your expertise and they deserve the best of what you have to offer.
I tackle four tasks per day and two clients per day. That’s not to say a client only has me once a week, it simply means I devote my day to two clients and give more hours towards them. Once I began to do this, I found that the quality of my work improved, it gave me more headspace and my clients reaped the rewards too!
Introduce working hours (and add them to your email signature!)
Hands up if you’re the type of creative who sees a notification and must instantly action it or pay it some attention?
Me too. Or I used to be.
One of my personal priorities when I first began working for myself was to make sure I gave myself some time. Just some time. But quickly, I’d find myself replying to an email over dinner or adding priority stars to emails whilst I walked the dog. Soon, I’d find myself passively working all around the clock. Put yourself first and set yourself some ideal working hours. This could look like:
- Monday: 11am-4pm
- Tuesday: Faux weekend
- Wednesday: 10am-11am
- Thursday: 9am-5pm
- Friday: 2pm-4.30pm
Or it could be completely different. Whatever works for you. Don’t be afraid to play around with your working hours for a few weeks or even months until you find what feels right. And then, add them to your email signature. Let your clients know. Be strict and turn off notifications once you’ve ‘closed’ for the day. In time, this’ll work in conjunction with Point #1 and you’ll find the quality of your work improving tenfold.
Work on a Sunday night… but just for an hour
Before you click away because of my sheer madness, hear me out.
On a Sunday evening (or morning or afternoon!), take some time to go through your email inbox and website enquiries and make a general plan for the week ahead. And then, close that diary and get on with your weekend. Knowing what’s ahead will ease your worried mind about those emails that haven’t been replied to, without actually doing that work just yet.
To enquire more about my consultancy services and how I can help your business grow (I cover everything from helpful direction consultancy to helping you craft strategies and calendars!), get in touch with me today.