Handle your email:
Gmail (the apps version, not the standard) will save you hours of maintaining spam filtering systems and virus software, IMHO. It also will keep things easy to find (if you can bear to use labels instead of folders). Standard version doesn`t look professional. It says "sent on behalf of" rather than using your domain name (even though it says it will). Apps functions using your domain name.Juggle your schedule:
Get a good calendar system that you can keep with you (Google`s is fine if you can access it from a mobile device when you are out.) A pocket sized paper one will work too -- just as long as you always keep it with you.Harness your to do list:
Take the best parts of the GTD system and trash the rest. Too many people get so enamored with their "systems" that they spend all their time trying to perfect it (trust me, I know.)
The best parts of the GTD system, IMHO is targeted to do lists -- not the long, impossible to complete ones, but the ones that say @computer @grocery @shopping @library @car @phone/email. Keeping a list of things to do based on WHERE you are when they need to be done means you don`t spend half your time trying to sort your to do list.
Use a digital device if you like, or use index cards and a binder clip. Either will work.
When you are in the car, you know exactly what needs to be done (the stuff on the @car list) while you are out. That`s particularly important as the price of gas continues to rise. It also dovetails your errands so you can grab a loaf of bread (personal errand) while you are headed to the postoffice (business errand), which is great if you keep up with business mileage.
When you are at your desk, you can call everyone on your list and send out all the emails you have noted in one swoop. It will make you feel productive!Don`t be a martyr or a tightwad:
Don`t try to learn to do everything yourself. (Been there, done that). It`s hard to make decent money as a freelancer if you spend all your time doing stuff that you do slowly or poorly instead of hiring that stuff done and working on income producing tasks.
When you first get started, you want to do everything for your new business, your baby, yourself. Get over it. Treat your business LIKE a business and hire professionals (or trade off work with someone who is good at complementary tasks.) I would have given ANYTHING for a decent graphic artist when I got started. I still find myself in a lurch for one from time to time (I`m currently reworking my logo with a group of designers now!)Don`t be a dull boy:
What Craig said is true. Don`t work 18 hours (Do as I SAY, not as I DO!) Why? You are less effective. It takes you longer to do the same tasks. Creativity (your prime skill) is squished (the technical term) by fatigue. And, in a few years, you will wake up and realize you live at the computer, don`t have a life, and that money isn`t everything.Schedule your days - even days off!
Rather than multi-tasking, break up your day (or your workweek) into project type sessions. I have a portion of one day every week for my steady clients and time blocked off for "project" work. I also take off one day per week and at least one day per weekend.
If I get a potential client in, but don`t have an open slot, I don`t accept the work -- I referr them to someone in my network -- another writer whom I can trust to do a good job.
- Keeps me from becoming overwhelmed and living at my desk
- Makes sure my existing clients get my best work, because I`m not exhausted
- Builds great strong reciprocal connections with my peers
Getting started isn`t the hardest part of running a new business -- it`s juggling when the clients start to see you. Get systems in place now and make the decisions necessary to ensure that YOU stay in control of your schedule, the quality of your work, and the joy in your life.
Remember WHY you joined the ranks of the self-employed.
Angela A. Parker
Writing online since 1999
Visit my blog: WickedBlog.com