How to Prioritise Tasks & Preserve your Personal LifeMarch 18, 2019 2020-11-13 12:15
How to Prioritise Tasks & Preserve your Personal Life
How to Prioritise Tasks & Preserve your Personal Life
There’s a pressure in all of us to plan. It’s essential, of course, but when you’re already wearing multiple hats in your business, it can get really hard to prioritise your workload. I don’t know about you, but I loathe being chained to my calendar. Life is unpredictable. You never know what’s going to pop up.
Planning and prioritising should be about being realistic with your time, goals, and values. There is no one set way of prioritising, but there are several pointers to planning more systematically which have improved my workflow over time and I’m sure you can benefit from them too!
Grab a pen, write down your monthly goals
Writing down your goals increases your chance of achieving them by 42 percent, according to a study led by the Dominican University in California. Forty-two percent is not something you want to miss out on! As much as I love project planning software for daily organisation and client projects, putting my goals on paper forces me to strategise and brainstorm. For example, your monthly goals could include:
- Increase traffic on your website by 10%
- Hire your first employee or a VA
- Write out content for your new website from A to Z
- Find network events to attend for the next 6 months
- Convert 2 new clients from the poll of potential clients you’re talking to right now
And so on.
These are quite broad and without specific actions yet, but it gives you something to work towards. It’s not a set plan yet, but just writing down what needs to happen this month makes everything much clearer and more focused. When you write down your goals, you automatically start feeling committed to achieving them. Once you feel that commitment, split it into actions for specific days in the month.
Map out each day with a time limit
To achieve your monthly goals, put them into action with small daily tasks. You probably already make daily lists anyway. Well, I like to make mine with a twist, splitting them into two categories: quick wins and longer tasks, with a time limit for each. For example:
- Reply to client emails at 10am – list client names – 30 mins
- Prepare posts on Facebook and Instagram for the day – 15 mins
- Prepare quotes for new clients – 30 minutes
- Reply to client emails at 2pm – whatever comes through during the day – 30mins
- Plan and write a marketing email for potential clients – 1 hour
- Make social media images – 1 hour
- Review client website text – 1.5 hours
- Research available choices for hiring a VA – 1 h
Go with your workflow
That’s the great thing about working for yourself: you can establish your own schedule. Work more productively after 12 pm, like I do? Then allocate your ‘quick wins’ before 12 and your longer tasks afterwards. We really don’t need to be traditional by sticking to a 9 till 5 schedule which is not a concept that fits everyone. Establish your most productive working times and the times when your concentration wanes – then generate your timetable.
Distinguish what’s worthy of your time and what’s not
Focus on the tasks that aid progress. It might feel productive posting 20 tweets per day, but if you don’t gain any clients from Twitter, I suggest devoting the time to something more worthwhile that will yield results.
For instance, creating your target audience profile, putting together a list of potential clients and structuring an introduction email around it might take a while, but if it brings valuable profit to your business, it makes more sense to skip the tweets.
If you work within a team and you know someone is waiting for you to finish your job before they can start, put this one on top of your list!
Resolving priority issues
Do any of these resonate with you?
Exercise?!? – I don’t have enough time for breakfast!
Almost all freelancers and small businesses overwork themselves in order to get ahead. Believe me, I’ve been there! Hard work pays off, right? Not if you’re neglecting your health!
Since doing more exercise, I’ve not only felt better, but worked better too. Just doing a 20-minute HIIT session or a short run makes me feel energized and more motivated to complete my tasks – twice as fast during the first 2-3 hours after my run.
Not into running? A very lovely translator I know says she favors yoga. Instead of attending classes or following YouTube workouts, she practices a few sequences for 10-20 minutes a day, morning and evening. Refreshed, your brain becomes clearer and trust me, everything becomes easier.
Exercise is an investment in your health and your brain – remember, exercise powers the brain!
I’m worried about letting my clients down
There’s a pressure to perform flawlessly not only in the first few months of business, but constantly throughout your freelance life. True, but if there’s one thing I learned over the last 10 years in business, it is that we can’t please everyone.
Sometimes it can feel like you need to put your clients’ needs above yours when they drop an urgent project due in 2 days’ time. But what about yourself? You can’t perform well if you’re not fulfilling your own needs, so it is time to ask “how much do I need this?”
That’s why it’s still important to prioritise your own needs and say no when you need to. As long as you can offer a reasonable alternative, everything will be fine. Maybe there is even room for negotiation, but you won’t know until you ask the client.
Say yes to going with your mom to that doctor’s appointment, yes to your daughter’s swimming class, yes to that Sunday spa day. Your business will thank you for it!
I’m struggling to organise my priorities
Many people find project management tools like Trello and Asana useful in getting organised. Everything – your notes, your projects, your employees – can be stored in one place that you can access anytime you need it.
Personally, I like Trello the best as it’s especially good for small businesses. I tend to write everything down on paper, do my brainstorming, then move into Trello and Asana.
Admittedly, it’s been a bumpy road with my planning, but I’ve finally established strategies that work for me. Everybody is different, so I’m not going to say these tips work for everyone. However, I really want to emphasise the importance of planning as a whole – it’s crucial for every business.
Now it’s your turn.
What are your top planning tips? How do you prioritise tasks and stay focused? Is there anything else that could help me become even more organised? Share!