Almost a month ago I counted 16 projects small, large, new and very old that I want to complete before I head to NY. What is it about a regular work week where I think I am working hard yet I find myself not accomplish a ton? Lately, I have been working on freelance every night. No all-nighters just yet, but maybe I won’t even need to resort to those. If you know me, you know that I was blessed with the do-not-need-to-sleep-that-much genes, though my body does say differently now and then. In any case, in a few short weeks, I have cut down my projects to 11.
I found myself questioning how I was able to do so much in so little time. It seems like that having a final deadline, something with no outs is a massive motivator. If someone tells me “take your time” I will now know to ask for a written schedule regardless. It also occurred to me that in all the small ways I was present amounted to more than I could have imagined:
1. Prepping for the week on Sunday (changed my life).
I am highly aware which day I can run errands, meet a client, squeeze in a yoga class to keep my body healthy. If things shift during the week I still have a good sense of what is when and I don’t panic or overbook myself.
Running multiple client jobs at the same time is insanely hard. I have come to the conclusion that making a list of all the jobs I need to do does not dissect the steps small enough for me to get to them and actually work on them. I have created a design as well as a print calendar on google, where every project is broken down to items like file due, client feedback due, job on press. This way I know if I just focus on the task in front of me I don’t need to panic when to order inks for the job, because I can do that the day I predetermined already.
3. After-hour hours.
Just about every evening I set a task list based on how hard I worked on how early I got up with small bite-size freelance steps that get me closer to finishing a job. Instead of tiring myself out with a logo design in a few sittings I look at my files twice as much for twice as few hours. It has allowed me to walk away from issues, getting cranky, going down a rabbit hole. I write down the things or issues I want to solve and I firmly believe that as that task runs in my brain in the background the next time I see the problem I am just so much more excited to delve in.
4. Setting client expectations.
I noticed how much more reliable both clients and I are when there is a simple little pdf listing the steps who owes whom what and when. It takes extra time to create, but as I enter the due dates into google, I also enter the dates into the doc I share with clients now. I used to only do this step when I had enough time, or worked with brides, because their timelines were the most strict and they were the most panicky clients in general. Creating honest time frames helps me show the client that a job is not just “thrown together” in Illustrator and shows them that the more they give me feedback in a timely manner the better I can advance with their work. It sets the stage for interactions where we both know what to expect.
5. Actually showing up.
So yea, these things are all dandy, but you gotta fucking do it, too. You gotta wake up early, you gotta deliver on your promise, you gotta sit down every evening and chip away at the pile.
YOU. GOTTA. SHOW. UP.
So to you my friend I say, find your drishti, find the weird idiosyncrasies that make your task list possible chip away at and get to it. Talk soon?