I would list procrastination among one of my greatest skills although by no means very useful. Working for myself, from home I realised that procrastination was not the way forward and whilst it wasn’t leading to me not getting work done, it was leading to me doing work evenings and weekends more often than I would have liked and I wasn’t as productive as I could be. Since making a few changes to my working day I have now normally finished my working day by 3 or 4 pm, am still getting the same results for my clients and very rarely find myself working weekends, unless a client has an event or I want to.
So how did I do it? Here are the four things that I found worked best for me.
1. Ditch clients
I know, I know, this doesn’t seem to make any sense as we are in business to make money not throw it away but trust me on this. Over the past few months I have told a couple of long term clients that I think it is best for us to no longer work together. There was nothing wrong with these clients in fact they were lovely people running very successful businesses but they weren’t right for me.
One of them, large client, was very disorganised meaning that I spent lots of time waiting for further direction, trying to organise the client or having to reschedule all my other clients to fit in jobs that they hadn’t mentioned before, at the last minute, which was stressful and not fair on other clients. The other one wanted more work than they were willing to pay for, which was my fault for setting my rate too low when I started out and not charging what I was worth.
I also realised that doing this work I had become distracted from doing what I had set out to do which was to do more work with non-profits and SME’s. I was in the fortunate position that I had a large client that paid well and meant I could afford to get rid of the other clients who were taking up so much time. Do you know what happened? Once I freed up the time I had been dedicating to them I found I had more time and suddenly had a wave of requests from individuals and SME’s so was back to doing what I loved.
2. Write down everything you do
The second thing I started to do was to write down every task that I did throughout the day, not a to do list, a list of every call made, every email I replied to, each bit of research undertaken etc as and when I did it. For example as soon as I finish this I will add wrote blog to today’s list.
The result of this was that yes it probably took a few more minutes to do but at the end of each day I could see how productive I have really been, as often if I was just crossing off write press release off my list I would think “How did that take four hours” by writing down everything relating to that task it gave me focus and made me appreciate how much can go into what can at first seem a simple job.
3. Work out when you work best
When I first started out I was still in a 9-5 mind-set which after more than 20 years working in offices was no surprise. Unfortunately this meant that I would often be up at 7am or back from the gym at 8am and then be waiting to start work or some days find that I had completed all my jobs for the day by 3pm and be searching for stuff to do to keep me busy until 5 or 6pm (not really a productive use of time).
So, I decided that I would work when it suited me. I have one client who I work for every day between the hours of 10am and 230pm, but now if I am up and dressed by 7am I get started on my work for other clients then, meaning I can get in three hours of work before I start on my contract work. This also means I am working at a time when I am most productive and that if come 230pm I don’t have more to do I can finish the day feeling guilt free.
4. Use an app to monitor tasks
I have found using myhours tool extremely helpful. It allows me to log all my clients, what tasks I do for them and how much that client pays per hour. Not only does this enable me to see how my day has broken down, but also helps me know what I should be charging when I quote on jobs.
I initially found that I was under estimating how long things took as I wasn’t taking into account research, follow up calls, reports etc. Now when somebody asks for a press release I can look back over previous similar projects and see how much time the whole thing took, meaning I quote more accurately which is good for the client and also means I have a better idea of how much work I can actually add to my workload as well as reducing the risk of doing an extra three or four hours work on a project free due to my own poor estimates.
If you have any tips on how you became more productive please comment.
Rebecca Slater runs Beck and Call PR visit www.beckandcallpr.co.uk for more information or email email@example.com