As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most difficult things about being self-employed is trying to balance the difference between busy and productive (see http://craig-west.co.uk/2011/10/busy-vs-productive-using-time-wisely-can-be-hard-work/).
It’s very easy to be ‘busy’ since there is never nothing to do. But turning that busy into ‘business’ is very challenging at times. Busy vs productive is a constant battle.
But this time I want to share a few pointers if you find yourself in this kind of situation.
First off: you need to have a clear idea of how you’re going to manage deadlines.
Much of what I do is based on my client’s expectation of when the work will be done. However, I’ve become very skilled at making sure I give myself time to get tasks done (see www.craig-west.co.uk/2009/09/cut-stress-by-allowing-time-to-get-things-done/ for my thoughts on this). I’ll tell the client when they can expect to have tasks complete and then ask if they are ok with that. Very rarely has anyone said no.
Second: if you do meetings, can you get several done in a day?
This works well for me. If I’m going to be out for a daytime networking event or meeting it often takes up so much of the day that I get little opportunity to sit and actually work.
So I have ‘meeting days’. This is where I stack up appointments on the same day, which leaves other days completely free.
Yesterday was a good example. I arranged 2 appointments in the city centre for the morning so I didn’t have to go into the city more than once. This approach saves time, money and minimises the impact on the environment due to less driving.
Third: when you sit down to work, have a list of things to do or a clear goal for accomplishment for that time.
This is a biggie. Unless you have a clear idea of what you’re working on you’re more likely to spend time on non-urgent and non-important stuff (such as so-called ‘marketing’ on Linked-In or Twitter).
So make sure you know what you’re working on every single time you sit down to work.
I use a to-do list. I re-write it each day and always have a minimum expectation of what I want to get done.
These are just a few of the things I do to help me maximise my time in the juggling act that is my world.
If you have any other ideas or thoughts on dealing with busy vs productive then please feel free to comment below.