When working alongside heaps of awesome entrepreneurs and high-flyers around the world whose attitude can be described by their ass-kicking motto of ‘Get Sh*t Done’, it’s pretty hard not to want in on that kind of action taking spirit.
But you see, when I first started out freelance copywriting at the beginning of this year, I wasn’t getting stuff done as quickly as I’d have liked. I wasn’t used to managing my time like this, and, as a result, I’d describe myself as a serial procrastinator.
Whenever it came to some writing or other work project I needed to do, I’d find anything else I possibly could to do instead. I’d be cleaning the bathroom, washing my bedsheets, scouring Facebook only to find myself on my best friends’ cousin’s brother’s wedding photos from 2012, just to avoid whatever it was I was meant to be doing.
That, as you can imagine, led to me feeling like my days were being wasted, left me punishing myself by working late into the evenings, as well as punishing myself while doing the procrastinating, and my working week was turning into a blur of feeling guilty, overwhelmed and underproductive.
But once the clients really started rolling in, I knew something had to change. It was just me to report to now, and if I didn’t get stuff done, quite simply I didn’t get paid.
That’s why I started to try out some pretty savvy ways to manage my time effectively and ultimately, GET THE GD STUFF DONE WOMAN! And this stuff works!
So here are my top tips for freelancers to GSD:
Write a to do list for the day – but the important bit, make it realistic!
There’s nothing worse than setting out the day with all these amazing plans only to have life get in the way and make you feel like a failure when you can’t tick them off. Allow time for the life stuff that is inevitable – the phone call from your Mum, the groceries being delivered, the ‘getting to and from’ your meeting rather than just the duration time – and plan your to do list accordingly.
Write a brain dump at the end of your day for the following day.
If you struggle switching off at the end of a day, this one helps a lot! Write down everything you’d like to get done for the following day before you switch off your laptop. That way, it’s out of your brain and on to the paper, freeing your mind up for some evening relaxation, as well as giving yourself an easy reminder as to where you need to pick up from. (This one’s a biggie – cos’ if you allow your mind to whir all night about what you need to get done, you’re not going to be as productive as you’d like the next day, and so the vicious cycle continues – GAH!)
Record every 15 minutes/half an hour exactly what you’ve achieved in that time.
Okay, so if you’re on fire and totally focused on what you’re doing, then don’t take a break from it just so you can record what you’ve been up to, as that will risk your productivity. But do note down the time you start each task, and then as soon as you feel yourself getting distracted (i.e. finding yourself on your best friend’s cousin’s brother’s Facebook page) note that time down too. It will give you a bit more guidance as to where your time is really going, and will help you stay accountable and feel encouraged to get back on track.
And, if you find yourself sneaking off to do some personal admin like checking your bank balance or paying your bills – that’s OK! Note it down – because it’s productive and you’ve achieved something, even if it isn’t specifically work.
If you’ve got a project you really need to get down to, putting that timed pressure on yourself really helps to get rid of the initial ‘getting around to it’ time before you actually get started. I use an online timer called http://e.ggtimer.com which allows you to pop in your time and counts it down for you, so you can easily keep checking in on how long you have left.
Of course phones are also good for timers, but they do make it very tempting to just have a ‘quick scroll’ through Instagram which turns into a twenty minute ‘ooh that’s SO pretty’ double-tapping sesh.
Just do it already.
Easier said than done, obviously, but do the thing that you’ve been putting off, first! At the start of the day – get it out of the way. You need to get it done anyway, and it’s playing on your mind distracting you from your other tasks because you really aren’t up for doing it, so just do it. And then it’s done. And it feels sooooo freaking good.
Provide yourself with little incentives that you will allow yourself to indulge in once you finish what you’re working on. A Pinterest session, a double-bill of your latest Netflix addiction, a chapter of your current gripping read, an inspirational video, an evening cocktail – whatever you fancy, make a promise to yourself and most importantly, stick to it. (Otherwise, you’ll find out that you never keep the promises you make to yourself and you’ll never be able to believe yourself again.)