Being a service provider is a real balancing act. You need to manage your workload, your client’s expectations and a diary full of deadlines. Careful planning and prioritising of your tasks is vital to keeping all of those balls in the air.
Last week I had a blinding realisation. I was planning out my time and checking which tasks needed to be completed by the end of the week. Momentarily, I patted myself on the back because I had completed my client to do list from the week before. But it suddenly hit me that I actually hadn’t completed MY to do list. My cheeks were very red! It was the second week of February and I hadn’t added any content to my website since December. I am aware of the irony that a copywriter who specialises in blogs hadn’t managed to publish any of her own in 2 months.
I realised that I had to change the way that I was managing my workload. As a service provider, you cannot devote all of your time to completing client work. Otherwise when would you create your own content?
Here are my top 3 tips for planning and prioritising:
Tip 1: Pick A Time for Your Content
Take out your diary and figure out a time in the week that you can regularly commit to. Block that time out every week. Use it solely to create your content. Don’t book client meetings during the time, don’t check your emails and close down all other distractions. Write your blogs, create your newsletters, write content for courses or e-books, or create new service offerings. Basically spend the time working ON your business instead of IN it.
Tip 2: Set Realistic Expectations
This goes for the expectations you set for your clients, but also the expectations for yourself. It’s relatively easy to set correct expectations for your clients. Know how long it takes to complete each task, schedule it all in your diary and then be honest on when you can complete the tasks by.
It’s a little harder to set expectations for yourself. It is so easy to fall into the trap of working around the clock. Constantly burning the candle at both ends is not a sustainable work strategy. You will burn out and become very unproductive. The best thing to do is to have set hours of work, and stick to them. Strike that balance of work time and down time. You will be far more productive during your work hours.
Tip 3: Leave a Blank Window
Instead of filling up every minute of time in your week, leave a whole morning or afternoon free. This is your overflow time. Have it up your sleeve in case a project runs over time, you get an urgent request or something personal comes up – like sickness or family issues. Then you won’t have to work into the night to get everything completed.
The wonderful thing is that if your week goes as planned and you complete everything on time, your overflow time becomes you-time. Go for a walk, sit in the fresh air, grab a coffee or whatever you want to do.
With the right combination of planning and prioritising, let’s nail this service provider balancing act. Keep your clients happy by producing high quality work on time, keep your business growing by continuing to produce content, and keep yourself happy by striking the correct work/life balance.
I’d love to hear your top tips for planning and prioritising. Tell me about them in the comments below.