As a freelancer, I don’t have a lot of structure in my days.
While that can be very freeing, it’s also very important that I manage my time well. One would think that opening your calendar and not having any where to be would be amazing.
But I still have a ton of to-dos and it’s up to me to generate new leads for more work for myself. Oftentimes, I find myself with paralysis by analysis: That phenomenon where you have so much to do, you have trouble honing on where to start.
So, today, I want to give you some tips on how to handle this common problem.
First, get clear on what you really want.
I’m a ‘yes woman.’ I tend to say yes to things quickly without giving it much thought as to whether on not I actually want to do it.
It’s definitely the people pleaser in me. I can end up with things on my schedule that feel like a burden or a chore rather than something I’m truly excited about.
For instance, I recently agreed to join Young Living Essential oils as a distributor. I love essential oils, I use them regularly and think they have many awesome benefits.
However, I have zero desire to sell them. No disrespect to the MLM’s out there, but I’ve been approached by friends associated with everything from Beach Body to Rodan + Fields and though I know a lot of you are kicking butt, it’s just not for me.
But, somehow, and beyond my better judgement, I still got sucked in. I was recently gifted an oil and diffuser set from a friend, which was a lovely gesture.
But then, there was an expectation for me to “organically post” about my love for these oils. Sounds easy enough. I have found myself sharing recipes and DIY projects using the oils. But that’s it. And it’s not generating any income or resulting in big commissions as promised.
I’m not naïve. If you want to succeed at any business, you have to put a lot of effort into it. I’ve had to really take a step back and think about it. I don’t want to make essential oils my business. I will continue to buy them for personal use and make cute gifts for friends and family, but I don’t feel the need to sell them or recruit anyone else to sell them. So I’m not.
This brings me to my second tip: Learn to say no.
I recently took the VIA Character Strengths study as part of the very fascinating Yale Psychology of Well-Being Course (it’s free and I highly recommend it) and it turns out prudence is at the very bottom of my list. It’s my weakest attribute.
I’m not surprised at all. It’s good to know though because I now take extra time to mull over decisions rather than replying immediately with am emphatic ‘YES.’
Give yourself the freedom to politely decline. There are only so many hours in a day and if you’re dedicating anytime at all to something your heart just isn’t into, it’s truly a waste.
Next, get clear on what’s a must do, and what’s a want to do.
I recently read a great book called The One. The book is about finding out the one thing you want to do in life. A very broad subject, but for someone with a wide range of interests like myself, that can be a daunting task.
I personally don’t think you have to dedicate your life to just one thing. But, the biggest takeaway I got from the book was to find time every day for your one thing.
Right now, I’ve got three or four things. I’m currently writing a screenplay, working on feel good stories for Spectrum 1, and organizing charity events for the many organizations my husband and I support. As you can see, that’s not just one thing.
Here’s how I balance those interests: Get one thing done every day.
I take each of those three goals and spend time narrowing down the one thing I can work on to move the needle that day. Today, I am going to clean up the grammar in my script, record the voiceover for my latest Spectrum piece, and follow up on donations from my latest fundraiser for the Art of Elysium.
Breaking each down into the one most important task each day helps me not feel overwhelmed by big picture. Chipping away at a goal gets you closer to the finish line.
Lastly, dedicate a specific chuck of time for each goal.
Multitasking may seem like a good idea, but it actually slows you down. When your brain is constantly jumping from three different projects, mistakes are made, your cognitive function is slowed and your more likely to feel stressed. Set a 20-minute timer and spend those 20 minutes focused on the one task at hand.
It’s hard at first. I found my mind wandering to an email I forget to send, or an idea for a future blog post. When that happens, resist the urge to change course. Stay on task.
It takes some mental training, but you’ll get the hang of it and you’ll find your time is actually maximized this way. Surprisingly, when you do ‘less’ in this way, you get a lot more done.
Do you have tips for focusing? Share them with me on social. I’ll see ya next time!