It’s unavoidable in January. Along with sending kids back to school, tax prep, and for many, snow (though it’s a balmy 60 degrees here in Georgia), the start of a new year brings with it a chance to evaluate ourselves and our businesses. Articles on goal setting and resolutions are everywhere, with advice on topics from losing 20 pounds to gaining 20 new clients.
My own goals are still in the pencil-only stage, but I’ve pulled together a few of my favorite resources for tackling common business-related resolutions.
It’s not just about doing more in less time, although that’s great. As freelancers, productivity is also about making flexibility work for us, not against us.
Use your time wisely. Time-management expert Laura Vanderkam is one of my favorites on the subject. She’s a huge proponent of time tracking. Like with money, it’s helpful to know exactly when and how you’re spending your time if you want to make the most of it. Unlike money, we all have the same 168 hours each week to work with.
RescueTime is what I use to passively track my computer time in the background, so I don’t even have to think about it.
Find out when you work best. The great thing about being a freelancer is the ability to set your own workday schedule. The terrible thing about being a freelancer is the ability to set your own workday schedule. While every schedule has some non-negotiable elements—ranging from deadlines to school drop-offs to volunteer commitments—most of us don’t have someone checking our timecards to see when we punch in and out each day. One of the biggest improvements I made to my work life last year was to adjust my general work hours to take advantage of my natural rhythm or chronotype. After years of trying to force myself to be a morning person, I finally gave up. The jury’s out on whether or not you can actually change your chronotype—I found it easier to just adjust my schedule. Now I put in a few hours in the evening and give myself more space in the mornings to get a slow start. It turns out I’m able to be more efficient both at work and at home. If you don’t already know what your chronotype is, this short assessment can help.
If you struggle to fall asleep after an all-nighter, try an application like fl.ux to adjust the color of your computer screen.
Other things to check out include Freedom.to, an app that blocks internet access (by site/app or the whole darn thing) and Gretchen Rubin’s book on forming habits, Better than Before. Also, this meal-prep tip really saves me time in the kitchen each week, freeing up more time to do something else!
Grow my business
Have plenty of time, but need to expand your client base to fill it? Maybe you just want to be a better indexer, or improve your skills in other areas to make the most of your business. Here’re some places to start.
Make a plan. This Design Your 2017 workbook takes a couple of hours to fill out, but gives you plans to implement all year.
Improve your indexing and indexing business. ASI (American Society for Indexing) has a wide range of online courses and short webinars to choose from. Get to know your software better, index faster, learn embedded indexing, or brush up your marketing skills.
Improve my health
Health—especially as a freelancer—is most definitely a business issue. I know I’m not the only one who’s either worked while sick or gotten sick immediately after a difficult deadline. Making personal health a priority can only help your business in the long run.
Ergonomics is probably the biggest issue for most of us. There are loads of resources online for setting up a healthy workstation, but here are some to start. The Gokhale Method emphasizes posture, and the 20-20-20 method helps with eyestrain (it can also be applied to getting up from your desk).
Get enough sleep. Tight deadlines make this a struggle. Maybe you just have to nap, or can let yourself sleep a little later (or get up earlier). Or, make sure you do sleep enough when your schedule is lighter. However you manage it, there’s no doubt sleep is important to your health and the quality of your work.
PI Pick of the Week
PI Partner Joanne Sprott is co-presenting an ASI webinar tailor-made for New Year’s resolutions. Creating and Securing Your WordPress Website for Marketing Success will help you create a website that will improve your visibility and pull in prospective clients through a solid about page, dynamic content, and a well-presented portfolio. The webinar will be given at 1 p.m. EST, February 22, 2017, and a replay will be available.