Working for yourself means you have to be exceptionally organised. 99% of the time, there’s no other person telling you what task to complete next, or when to take a lunch break; it depends solely on you.
At the very start of my career in February, I wrote a short post detailing 5 essential websites I use that help me stay on track when working on client projects. I still use Asana and Toggl daily which makes my life processes 100x easier. This time around I wanted to talk a bit more on how I organise myself from day to day and some simple things I do to make my working hours that little bit less hectic.
Sort Through My Inbox
Being both a business owner and a blogger means that I have multiple sources of contact and on the odd occasion, my emails can become a right state. Even now I get random emails sent through to me, naughty GDPR! However nice it is to receive emails from actual real-life people, checking my inbox can become quite a distraction when trying to get things done. Each morning at 8:30AM, I power up my laptop, iMac or phone (usually while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil) and I take 10 minutes to scroll through my unread mail to see what needs prioritising. I tend check my emails 4-5 times throughout the day, but only when I’ve finished a task so I don’t get sidetracked. I predominantly use Gmail – with one account for my blog and one for my business. It makes life a whole lot easier and it means projects no longer blur into one.
Go Through My Finances
Ugh, the dreaded end-of-year finances are an absolute nightmare. If you’ve ever had to do a tax return yourself, you’ll understand how torturous it can be if you’re not organised from the start. Receipts flying everywhere, dozens of folders with numbers scrawled on them, it’s not the easiest of tasks. Since I’m almost at the 1 year mark of being my own boss, tracking finances is something I’m getting a little better at. A great tip which my mother told me last month is to start doing some admin on a Friday – just for an hour – to sort through receipts and numbers for that week. I don’t like to leave paper lying around as I’m predominantly digital based, but with thanks to my trustworthy printer hidden away under my desk, I can print off 1 page per week from a Google spreadsheet (I tend to use the trustworthy canon printer ink which is said to produce incredibly reliable results and it’s never let me down). I note my income, outgoings, and anything extra which I might have spent that week. I then pop the paper into a little folder to prevent myself having to trawl through lots of online documents again. Come the next financial year I will have saved myself hours of time.
Take A Tea Break
As mentioned at the top of this post, it’s easy to forget to take a break when you work from home 24/7. With no other team members screaming that it’s LUNCH TIME or ‘shall we pop to the co-op for food?‘, I constantly need to remind myself to stand up, stretch, take a break and pop the kettle on. As with any job, some tasks can seem overwhelming and rather than stressing about every little downfall, I now take a step away from my computer screen and refresh my head a little. On occasions I’ll pop out to the local park for a walk, or head over to the bakery just around the corner from my house. It’s little luxuries like this that make freelancing so amazing, and a gentle reminder to not let work consume my entire life.
Use An Electronic Calendar
As much as I love writing down my to-do list inside a notebook, my online calendar is my actual savour. Not only does it help me to organise my working schedule and projects, but it’s easy for clients to ping across meeting and project emails which automatically insert into my calendar. This process saves me time and also helps me to see what I have coming for the days, weeks and months ahead. Not forgetting, it’s also a great way for me to note down important birthdays (including clients) and reminders for blog and client outreach. I strongly urge anyone to do the same and update yourself when possible. Download the app on your phone so you can schedule on the go, just remember to look up from your phone every now and again.
Complete An End-Of-Day Check-In
After a busy day of working, one the most important things any freelancer can do is take 5 minutes for reflection and preparation for the next working day. Each day at 5:30, I note the progress I’ve specifically made on that day and create a list of what I will need to do tomorrow. In doing so, there are no scary surprises and it helps me to separate my home/work life and keeps my mind focused for the next lot of tasks. Naturally as my own boss, my daily tasks have their ups and downs, but I’m learning how lucky I am to do what my real passion is: working for myself. Freelancing offers freedom and flexibility that can be empowering, but it takes a whole lot of discipline to keep productive and achieve results.
Is there anything I should add to my list? Do you have some tips on staying organised? Thanks to Printer Inks for getting in touch for this collaboration.