The huge challenge in being (part-time) entrepreneur is learning to organize yourself. I’ve been working and earning online for about 3 (or 4) years now. I first started earning money from the client work (paid blogging, content marketing, reputation management, etc). Only a year ago I finally got to creating and promoting my own projects.
The issue: I found that it was very easy to put your self-funded, self-operated projects aside for the sake of doing client work…. And it is not actually (only) about money (though the client work is still my main source of income, so it is very easy to treat personal projects like little hobbies).
The problem is in responsibility. You always feel responsible to other people and it is always easier to sacrifice on your own needs. Maybe it’s what keeps many of us away from achieving success.
Anyway, being a new mom and slammed with work, I found organizing myself and finding time for my own projects quite challenging. I think I have found some solutions though and I am willing to share them here.
1. First, Create a Plan
This may sound too obvious but you do need a plan. Don’t try to plan something globally. Don’t try to plan a year or two ahead (with the Internet business it’s usually impossible because this world is too fast and dynamic).
Your plan needs to be very exact and manageable.
I for one always plan the following:
- I plan my next day before I go to bed (a little sheet of paper with the to-do list stuck to my fridge or whiteboard usually works best);
- I plan my whole work week on Sunday (and usually try to do all I plan for the whole week within 3 days to have extra 2 days for the blog posts like this);
- I usually have a clear plan for one season (somehow it is easier for me to plan winter separately from spring, etc.)
2. Create New Responsibilities
So I have found I feel most motivated when I need to report to someone. So what I need is to make a lot of promises to various people which will make me stick to the plan.
An example? One of my projects, MyBlogGuest, has been promoted by solely guest blogging on various sites. Guest posts have made wonders in terms of creating awareness and drawing people to the platform. The only problem with guest blogging is that it is very “optional” (while taking quite some time): you don’t need to stick to your editorial and you (of course) are not paid for doing that.
So the only way for me to guest post a lot was to email 4-5 email pitches a week and, once I get an approval, reply with the exact time frame promising to send the complete guest post no later than some date.
Making such a promise did wonders: I started treating guest blogging as regular and scheduled task. And it worked.
3. Build and Manage Multiple To-Do Lists
As much as I love web tools and applications, I have never been able to find an ultimate to-do list organizer. I tried RememberTheMilk, Google Calendar, Todoist, many others, but they all were either too complex or too cluttered.
Instead of those, I have come up with multiple tricks and multiple little to-do lists around the place that allow me to quickly organize my tasks based on source and urgency:
- I have an “offline” “old-school” paper to-do list stuck to my WhiteBoard – this one usually contains next day’s most urgent tasks (not regular ones (and therefore they are so hard to remember) but those that have come up unexpectedly and need my attention as soon as possible);
- I have my Thunderbird inbox where I aggregate messages from all of my email accounts (personal, business, client-work-related, personal-project-related, etc): and I always keep at least 10 emails hanging as unread and starred there until I do what needs to be done (these are usually non-urgent but important tasks I don’t want to forget about);
- I have TO-DO folder in my Thunderbird where I move other non-urgent less-important emails (unlike those in my inbox, these are not always in front of my eyes, so that means they can wait);
- I have FaviconizeTab FireFox addon and I use it to keep some web pages that also need my urgent attention (the extension minimizes each tab to the current page favicon which saves space and prevents you from accidentally closing any of them):
- I also have MorningCoffee and TooManyTabs installed where I can move less urgent tasks to.
- Finally, I have a quick TO-DO list in a .txt fine on my desktop where I drop random ideas and tasks if I have no time to organize them but want to soon get down to them.
This is pretty much it. These are the three tips that have allowed me to get a bit organized. Would you share your (little) tricks to manage your time and keep yourself motivated?
This is a guest post by Ann Smarty, a search geek, newbie entrepreneur and social media enthusiast. If you plan to promote your startup or a blog or want to start accepting guest bloggers, check out Ann’s most recent project My Blog Guest, the community of guest bloggers. Ann is Director of Media at BlueGlass as well as part-time entrepreneur running and promoting several self-funded projects.