When you work at a job, you have what’s called a manager. A lot of times your manager will have somebody do sole responsibility it is to make sure that what you’re doing now is the best thing for you to be doing now. Sometimes it’s the manager themselves, sometimes it’s the boss, whoever it is, if you are not owning the business yourself, somebody else is in charge of telling you what you should be doing now. The problem is when you get out on your own start freelancing or you start your own business, or even if you start working remotely for a company, being able to keep track of what’s most important right now and what you should be doing right now can cause problems and really sometimes you just don’t understand what it is that you need to actually be doing.
So what I want to do is break down for you how I’ve solved this problem for me. I’ve been freelancing for 10 years or whatever, and how I go about the process of understanding what I should be doing when and how I prioritize my day, my week, and everything that I’m doing. Now. This whole thing is predicated on a couple of basic principles and it’s very important to your understanding. So I’m going to lay them out for you. Here’s the first one. You Ready? A task will take exactly the number of seconds that that task takes to complete. Let me tell you that again, completing a task takes the exact number of seconds that it takes to complete that task. What that means is you can’t, you can’t will your way into completing something earlier, sooner, faster, whatever it’s going to take as long as it’s going to take to get done.
All right, so that’s the first thing to understand. The second thing is you can only do one thing at a time. All this stuff that’s going around about being able to multitask and do multiple things at once, you can’t. The more you try to multitask, the less you are able to perform it on any of those taxes, right? It’s like the spinning plates thing. If you’ve got one plate, you can spin it really well and will never fall, but as soon as you got 10 plates spinning in the air, the likelihood that all of them are gonna fall goes way up. The third is that importance of project is sometimes not quite as obvious as it seems. Sometimes you might think that a project is important, but really it’s just your boss yelled the loudest about that one. Or You may think that a particular task is important, but it’s really just that you have a meeting with that client in about 10 minutes and you want to be able to show them something.
So that task suddenly becomes very, very important. The truth is tasks should be associated with a specific priority that is determined and defined by a separate set of rules that you don’t deal with in the moment of getting a task or in the moment of doing a task. It’s something that you deal with when you’re planning what you’re going to be doing. Now when you have a job, most of the stuff is taken care of for you by a project manager, so they know all what all the tasks are supposed to be completed and they are tasked with organizing your day so that you’re always working on the most important thing at the right time. But when you work on your own, you don’t have that. So let me walk you through exactly how I set mine up and then actually I’m gonna make another video talking about that.
I have a program that I use a software that helps me to manage all of this and automates a lot of these processes. I’m gonna make another video talking about that. So let’s jump to my computer. I want to show this to you. Um, I just have a note notepad up here and you can use, basically, this is just going to give you an idea of how this works. So first thing we need to do is list out our clients. This could be projects or whatever it is, but let’s just say clients, right? So we’ve got client, one client to client, three client, four client, right? So you’ve got five clients, you got unlisted out there. And the next thing we’re going to do is go back and we have to determine how much each of these is worth to us. Now this is broken up into a couple of different pieces. The first is how much do they pay us? So client one pays us $50 per hour and let’s say they average 10 hours per month.
Okay, a, now client two is on retainer. So we’re going to go, they pay us $1,000 a month. Now, client three is project based. So we, what I’m going to put here is that we average about a hundred dollars an hour per project when we scope it out. But that comes with the caveat that we have to actually create proposals. Those need to get approved by the client, but then we can actually work. And also because it’s project based, it’s not every month that we actually get something to do. Client four is another retainer and they pay us $500 a month. And then client five, let’s say, pays us also $50 a month. They’re on a $50 per hour and they, let’s say they give us also 10 hours per month, right? So we’ve got these five clients and they are broken up by how much they’re actually giving us.
Okay? Now you can always already start to see how we can start to prioritize these. Obviously client two probably going to be a little bit more important than let’s say client three to we may not even get any work from in a particular month. Clients one in five might be about the same, but client four is going to be more important than all of that. So the next thing that we have to take into consideration is the work that we’re doing and our relationship with that client. We’re going to give all five of these clients a score from one to three. One meaning we love the client, we love the work we’re doing for the client, and we liked the relationship. Two is either we like the client but we don’t really like the work or we’d like to work or we don’t really like the client or maybe we don’t really have an opinion one way or the other.
It’s like we don’t really not like them, but we don’t really love them either. And a three is you don’t something about the project. You don’t like the person you’re interfacing with, you rubbed, they rub you the wrong way, the work isn’t your favorite, whatever it is. So we’re going to go through and let’s say a client one is a two. We don’t really care much either way. Client two let’s say they’re a three a, we don’t really enjoy working with them but it’s decent money. Client three is a one we really like working with them. Client four we’ll say is a two and then client five we’ll say is a one we really like working with clients. Okay, so now what you’ll notice is we have a list here of the clients and a general idea of the priority of how we would approach dealing with a particular client.
Now let’s say for example that we have a list of tasks. So let’s say we’ve got five tasks and they each correspond with one of those clients. So task one is from client one task two is from client to task three so we’ve got a the tasks this way. Now let’s, let’s do the exercise of actually putting these guys into order. So let’s see, task one is from client one client one is you know that’s a, that’s actually do this in a separate, a little area down here. So client one will say it’s a two so we’ll put them right in them, right at first. That’s fine. Was look at client two plus two is for client two which pays us a lot, but we don’t really enjoy doing it. Okay, so at this point, you know, yes, it pays us quite a bit, but we probably will enjoy doing it less than the, and we probably don’t really enjoy that client itself.
But still I think that money is gonna take waste. We’re gonna put task two above task one sending you just get done and, and it’ll, it’ll work out in our favor. Now let’s look at task three. Task three is for client three which we really like, but it’s a there, you know, this client doesn’t give us that much business and so we kind of have to be judicious about the time that we spend today. However, this is a task that we already have for them. So I’m going to assume that we do have something to do for them. Somebody put that task at the top. Now task four for client four. Again, this is a retainer which is good for the money. We don’t really dislike or like them, so it’s okay. We’re going to put that above task one. Okay, so we’ll put this one is task four and then task five for client five we like this person but they’re hourly, so we’re going to put this one right above task one as well.
It’s the same benefit to us, but the, we liked working with them a little bit more. This relationships a little better. Okay, so now you can see if we don’t just have task one, task two, six, three all the way to five. We have an order, a prioritized list of which task needs to be done when, like I said before, it takes as long as it takes to complete a task. So you always want to start at the top of your task list. That’s the most important thing for you to be doing. That should be the thing that you’re working on and you worked out so you never liked jumping around on your task, which do we picking? Choosing what you want to do. You start at the top and then work your way down. So what happens if a new task comes in? Right now what we need to do is determine where something’s going to fit.
So let’s say task six is for client a three, right? So client three there’s another task that comes in for client three. What we’ve gotta do is come up here and say, is it more important than task three, which is the one that was already there. It might be, it depends on the project. Is it more important than task two, which was for client two probably. Cause even though we have this client that’s gonna pay us more, um, this client we like more. So we’re going to put task six right above task two. Now it might be that whatever the task is for client to this one here, is more important and there’s a higher likelihood that we’ll get fired by client two if we don’t do it, that creates a much higher risk. But you can see as we come back, we have to insert the tasks where they go.
So now I want to talk to you about one more step of this, which is incredibly important, which is plenty. So we have the tasks, we have a list, sort of put them in order, but how do we make sure that we stay on task? How do we make sure that we don’t always keep adding more tasks after task six what if task seven goes here and then task eight ends up up here, right? We’re never going to get to task one, right? So what we have to make sure that we do is give ourselves a windows where we’re not going to accept new tasks into the list of priorities of what we’re working on. All we’re going to do is focus on what we’ve already decided to do in the new form. So this is in the development world, what’s called a sprint. A sprint is just a specified period of time where you don’t accept new tasks onto your working task list while you’re doing this, continuing to work on the tasks that you had already bitten off, so to speak, for that particular time period.
So most development teams that work on scrum work in two week sprints. In fact, most teams that use grammar that that type of methodology work in two weeks sprints. Personally for freelancers, I like to work on a weekly basis. Okay. Because things come up a little bit more often than every two weeks. It’s kind of hard to commit yourself to two weeks springs. So I looked at every week. So what will happen is on Friday we’re going to look at this and say, okay, next week probably I can get done these four tasks. Is that four or five? These five tasks, right? Task three, task eight, six, seven and test two. So this becomes what I’m going to commit to my sprint for the next week. Now in the next week, I’m not going to add anything else to my task list that is actually gonna get done in that week.
The client needs something, I’ll say, okay, great. We can get to that next week. Anything else that gets added to my plate, it gets put into a backlog or just gets dropped down here into a list of tasks. So we’ll say task nine, task 10, task 11 et Cetera, et cetera. And then on the next Friday what we’re going to do is look at these tasks that were supposed to get done that week and say which of them got done. It should be starting from the top. It should be the first one, the second one, probably the third one. Hopefully we got them all done. But if not, there might be a task, a leftover at the bottom of this list. So those tasks will get moved down, to our backlogs as high priority because we’ve already committed to them. And now this is our task list for the next week.
Or the important thing is that you take these tasks and that you put them into a calendar that you schedule times to actually complete the tasks that you decided to do. Otherwise you’re always going to be playing catch up. You’re always gonna have new things getting added to your list and you’re going to be overwhelmed very easily because it’s difficult to do all three of those things at the same time. Knowing how to parse out tasks from a project is one skill. Knowing how to complete the tasks, execute the tasks as a second skill, but then knowing how to put those tasks into a priority order and make sure that you’re always working on the most important thing at the right time is an entirely separate skill altogether. So instead of trying to combine all those things at once and do it all on the fly, which doesn’t work, trust me, giving yourself time to go through, prioritize your task list, and then plan which of the tasks you’re going to actually work on.
It’s what’s actually going to give you the ability to complete the tasks that you set yourself out to you. Now, a couple of benefits to this. First, your clients are going to have a much better understanding of what you can accomplish and when, because you know whether something can get done in a particular week or not. And if you do this for about a month, you’re gonna get really good at estimating how long it’s gonna take before you can actually even get to a task. And then how long it’s going to take to complete it because you will have kept track of which tasks you start, you could complete in a week and then which ones you actually did complete. What I want to talk to you about, and I’m going to do this in the next week or just a preview for you, is how you can always have that top task in front of you.
So I don’t actually work on sprints anymore. What I do is my list is always prioritized because I have found a system that allows me to bake this logic into the creation of the task itself. So when I create a task, all I have to do is say it’s for client one and this is the priority and this is the due date, and then automatically puts it into the right place in order. And when I look at my task list, I don’t see anything beyond the first two tasks. So as I complete the top tasks, then they all move up and then I work on the next one. Then they all move up. So I’m not ever worried about which task is getting completed, when or whether I’m on track because I am always working on whatever is the most important at that particular moment.
So in your business, as you’re a freelancer in whatever you’re doing your work, make sure that you have a system B. Feel free to totally copy and steal mine, but make sure that you have a system that is going to help you take the task list you’ve created, that you’ve parsed out from the project that you know you need to do, and turn that into a prioritized list so that you can always be working on what’s most important at any given moment.
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