I came across a question yesterday in a Facebook group I belong to, and it inspired me to share my tips for making ideas happen. As someone who has lots of ideas and many projects and freelance work activities on the go at once, I’ve had to adapt my corporate ways into self-employed systems that work for me.
1. Make sure you have a system to capture your ideas
Whether it’s a dictaphone, notebook, phone app (Evernote is very good) or set of post it notes….
Just capture those ideas when you have them, and then you know they’re safe for when you have time to look at them again.
2. Do a weekly plan
If you’re running a business or working as a freelancer, you’ll have various admin and marketing tasks to do as well as your core business activity. Make sure you plan in time each week for the different things you need to do.
I do a weekly plan every Friday morning, and I just write down my key priorities for the following week. This is usually similar each week as there are categories of activities eg each week there will be (1) freelance work tasks (2) admin tasks (3) connecting with people (4) blogging (5) taking time for me eg photography, walking.
The trick is not to make the list so long and detailed that you can’t face it. Just list the priorities, then you can glance at them every morning to check you’re getting the important stuff done.
3. Review your progress regularly
In my weekly planning, I also write down what I’ve learned from the previous week and any actions that result. This helps me to identify things that aren’t working for me, tasks I’m putting off, ideas that I really want to implement.
It’s also good to take a step back every month or so, and remind yourself what you’re trying to do overall, what the focus of your business or working life is. This helps identify the things that aren’t so necessary, and maybe even prompt you to stop doing them.
4. Know your energy levels
This has revolutionised the amount of stuff I can get done when I’m busy, and has been the most important thing I’ve learned since becoming self-employed.
I know that I write and think better in the morning, so I try not to schedule meetings or calls during that time.
I know that between about 1pm and 3pm I struggle to write or do anything too complex, so I either catch up on my emails and phone calls then, or I just stop totally and go out for a walk. I often find that I’ll get ideas or come up with possible solutions to problems when I do this, so it’s actually been a very productive habit for me to adopt.
Then I get a second wind in the late afternoon and pick up my thinking and planning tasks again.
5. Use microblocking to get things done
If you have a project you never get time for, try working on it for just 20 minutes a day. You’ll be amazed how much you get done.
I wrote a whole Twitter course that way, just 20 minutes in the morning before I started on anything else.
6. Enlist the help of others
If you need help getting things done, you could find an accountability partner or group. Every week write down or tell them your priorities for that week, and at the end of the week assess how you did. Having someone else to keep an eye on you and question what you’re doing has an amazing impact!
Are there things you can outsource to someone else? Do you need to post all your social media updates yourself, or keep a track on your expenses? There are plenty of virtual assistants and bookkeepers out there who can do that kind of thing for you, and they don’t cost as much as you might think. That leaves time for you to do what you enjoy doing and are best at, which in turn will prompt more ideas and motivate you to implement them.
These are just a few of the things that I’ve found helpful in making sure my work gets done efficiently and that I still have time for my side projects like blogging. If you’ve got other ideas please do comment below.