How To Get Your Sh*t Together
A new month is upon us - pinch punch and all that jazz! Now while the general population are busy swapping their Halloween costumes for Christmas jumpers - beginning the countdown to the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year - I've been panicking over the amount of work I still need to get done before the year is out.
Like a fool, the over-ambitious and high-achiever in me made all these wonderful goals, strategies and plans for interesting content and cool collaborations earlier on in 2017, but the perfectionist (read: scaredy-cat) that I am has left everything last minute. Standard. Now, I could just let it all slide but Mama Charity - that’s actually my mum’s name btw - didn’t raise no quitter. So here we are, a mountain of work before me and an anxiety-prone mentality. Just fab!
In at an attempt to quell my butterflies and sleepless nights, I have hailed November as my Get Your Shit Together month and will endeavour to do just that - with some help obvs! So every Wednesday this month, there’ll be a new article with expert advice and industry insights to help any aspiring influencers - aka moi! Think working with PRs, the basics of SEO and sourcing content.
To kick things off, I’ll get the ball rolling today with a solemn promise of all the ways I’m planning to get my shit together, which really entails how I should and WILL be managing my time as a freelancer. I’m no expert, but after reading Sarah Knight’s Get you Sh*t Together, I’ve put some of her methods into practice and didn’t hate them. Hopefully, some of these might be useful to you too:
1. Go Back to School
Calendars and timetables are my new best friend. As previously mentioned, I’ve created my own adult version of a school timetable, similar to the one I had at Sixth Form. I’ve colour coded “lessons” and spread them evenly across the week, making sure I’m attributing enough time to each “subject”. Then I’ve created a quarterly content calendar for my blog and my other freelance jobs so that I can get ahead of the game when it comes to putting together my “lesson plans” (aka weekly to-do lists) in accordance with my timetable. Organised af!
2. Follow the Rule of 3s
Do less and focus on more, this is my new mantra. Studies have found that this is how successful people get shit done! I try and only tackle 3 big tasks a day so that I make sure I’m hyper-focused on completing each one and my attention isn't split trying to juggle too many things at once. It makes ticking off my to-do list a breeze.
3. Try a No Phone Zone
Did you know the average person touches their phone 2,617 times a day? A day!! That’s from a study conducted by DScout last year and granted it’s probably from a US sample - the Yanks are known for their extremes - however, I too find myself unnecessarily touching my phone throughout the day, for no reason at all. It’s just become habitual that I tap the screen, perhaps “checking the time”, but if I see a notification on there I’m on it like white on rice! Distraction at its best, and it has to stop! So during working hours, I turn my phone off. I cut the source at its root and am only reachable via email, which I check 3 times a day.
[Disclaimer: I do turn my phone on at lunchtime or if I go outside, just in case there is an emergency or I have too much social media FOMO.]
4. Schedule Breaks
Our attention spans are surprising short and with the rise of social media, it’s even shorter. Genuinely for some people, it's as low as 5 minutes. As with everything, practice makes you stronger, but trying to work for long periods of time without having a break is actually detrimental to your workflow. I focus on doing shorts bursts of work for 90 minutes with a 15 - 30 minutes break afterward.
5. Everything Lock Off at 6 pm
Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, you need to have some time in the day when you don’t work. I categorically stop after 6.30pm. While it's great for relaxing my brain, it also ensures that I HAVE to get my work done in the day. Otherwise, I’ll procrastinate for ages - reading interesting articles, doing online shopping, etc… - and then I’ll still be trying to catch up on work at 8 pm. Nah honey, that shit won’t fly!
6. Practice Saying No
Miss People Pleaser over here - that’s me - tries to be everything to everyone, at the risk of having a nervous breakdown. But saying no to people occasionally doesn’t mean you don’t love them - it just means you’ve got shit to do. Get on with it!
7. Take Days Off!
Mental activity is just as draining as physical activity and I learned that the hard way. Last month I was ill for about 2 weeks straight and I couldn’t figure out why. Yet, because it wasn’t enough to keel me over, I kept working. I was just sitting at my desk with a blanket and a cuppa, surely I'm not using up energy but why did I still feel terrible? Finally, I succumbed to a day on the sofa napping and watching the Notebook. Woke up the next day feeling great. Clearly, I just needed to switch my brain off and reboot. Though I felt guilty, I lived to see another day. We’re not superhuman, deliberate time away from work is a must.