Yes, I fell into the trap.
I started a blog, and posted faithfully for a few short weeks. Then I got busy and the posts stopped. Now everybody will tell you that is NOT the way to create attention and build your business … and I agree. But how do you find the time to keep your blog going, update your website, post to Twitter, answer questions on LinkedIn and STILL do paying work?
I thought I’d look at what some of the experts day, and then evaluate their advice based on what I consider to be “real life” for the busy freelance creative. So here’s my take on some excellent advice.
- Get Organized. Make a list of each thing you have to do. Do it and cross it off your list.
Okay this sounds easy enough. Just make that list of important tasks and work your way down it. And it works great — untill the telephone rings and client wants you to drop everything and tackle a new project that “Absolutely, positively, must be done NOW.” Well, they’re paying, so they get to dictate the terms and your list goes out the window … at least for today, and tomorrow, and every day until the project is complete.
- Define what you’re doing. Steve Slaunwhite, author of “For Copywriters Only,” insists that you need to have a quick, effective way to define the work you’re doing. He suggests you begin by defining a “task” as something that takes less than 20 minutes and a “project” as something that takes more than 20 minutes.
Okay, so now I know the definition of a “task” and a “project.” So I guess calling the client to ask a question is a task … until the client keeps me on the phone for half-an-hour. Then it’s a project.
- Set up a system. From labeling a file folder with the name of your project to turning to online tools, there are dozens of “timesaving” systems out there that promise to get you organized in no time. Just set them up and then use them. You’ll never spend time hunting for a missing phone number or e-mail address or statistic because it will always be right where you put it.
Okay, so I’ve set up a whole bunch of timesaving systems … and then I get busy and forget to use them. Luckily, the one I’ve stuck to – a link on my computer desktop to my work folder, which I called “Marjstuff” – continues to work for me. If I wasn’t at least a tiny bit organized in my “virtual” world, I’d never find anything. You don’t want to see the top of my actual desk!
- Create reminders with alarms. You can use reminders in Outlook, or a little alarm clock on your desk to tell you when to move on to the next “task” or “project.”
Okay, but here’s my problem. In order to get that “reminder” or hear that “alarm,” I have to remember to SET it. (Sigh!)
- Reward yourself. Don’t just sit on Facebook or LinkedIn all day. Don’t browse around YouTube. Wait until you’ve accomplished your tasks or completed your projects. THEN reward yourself with a little surfing. Visit Facebook. And laugh at that dancing YouTube baby. Leverage the things you like to do into a prod to keep you working until your important jobs are done.
Hah! My Facebook friends think I’m dead. I never post or comment. Who has time? For that matter, I haven’t had time to post to this blog. Until now. Must mean work is slow, and assignments aren’t coming in at their usual rate.
That brings me back to the beginning. Don’t do what I do. Find a system. Get organized and post to your blog on a regular basis, rather than waiting until you have nothing else to do. You’ll thank yourself (and me) for it.