10 Ways to Pull More From Each of Your Days.
There were plenty of things we did well during our first year, but even more that we needed to do better. We both knew it was paramount that we not take the success gathering like storm clouds in the distance and simply wait for it to pour.
We needed to streamline and refine our systems. Our blended voice was natural, our ability to communicate exceptional and our natural comfort with our level of communication completely second nature.
But we knew if we wanted to keep up with all the paid work that was coming our way, as well as continue to stoke the fires of our personal projects, we would need well-oiled systems to smooth the production line to the level of instinct. Fail in this and we would only end up running around a different track with better shoes.
Here are 10 ways we have been able to pull the most from each day.
1) Create an online office. We use DropBox, an online storage application that allows us to drop files and share web space. At $10 per month for up to 50 gigs, it’s a dirt cheap setup to allow you to trade information with no downtime and no residual worry about loss of data. DropBox even stores deleted files you can retrieve later. We live on opposite coasts and can’t work in the same office, but we can share office space thanks to DropBox.
2) Create an online to-do list. This list must be pliable and both partners should check in with and report on their progress every day. We call ours a worksheet and it is worked. Each day to-do’s are listed. If they aren’t done, there is a notation made with an estimated time of completion next to it. This type of fluid communication is essential for momentum.
3) Be consistent. If one partner doesn’t know what to expect, it can be extremely difficult for the other to plan, produce or bring momentum to the team. Output should ideally follow some sort of steady, regular rhythm. Peaks and valleys lead to kinks in the flow, not good for production and poison for growth.
4) Helping out. Countless emails, client phone calls, dealing with tire kickers, writing guest posts, gathering new clients, constant learning, first drafts of new work, idea generation, graphic design and maintenance; not to mention keeping up with paid work and personal sites. It can all be a bit daunting. Each partner should know what they are best at. If one partner is handling certain areas of the business, the other must do everything they can to help with the burden however they can.
5) Clear the worksheet every day. If something has to sit for longer than a day or two, there should be a reason and a re-articulated completion date. This gives both partners faith that the team is constantly trudging forward, keeping pace with paid work while leaving room for their own dreams as well. Think of the day as a big glass jar and all your tasks as a pile of rocks. Naturally, to fit all the rocks into the jar you would put the large ones in first and then let the small ones fall into the created pockets. The same is true with tasks. Knock the largest out of the way first. Then at the end of the day clear the smallest.
6) Productivity begets productivity. Think of this as going to the gym. You may hate the idea of getting out of bed and hitting the treadmill, but 10 minutes into your workout, you find your rhythm and it’s easy to continue. After the workout, you feel great and can’t wait to do it again. Humans are creatures of encouragement. By clearing the list each day and being consistently productive you are teaching yourself that you can do it, thereby multiplying the chances that a new habit will turn into a fixed routine.
7) Have clear goals and sharp focus. It’s important to know what you are doing and why you are doing it. As soon as your business reaches the point where your time is all accounted, then every minute means money either in the bank or missing from the account. Use them wisely. Know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and then do everything you say you are going to do. It isn’t enough to spit theory. There has to be action in the lab. Writing with a purpose and consistently building toward a long term plan will pay off far more handsomely than winging it possibly ever could.
8) Be quick to adapt. The online world moves fast. You never know what your clients are going to drop in your lap at the last minute or what the Web has waiting in the wings to surprise you. Be ready for anything and nothing will surprise you.
9) Lean into the dips. It is not enough to simply keep pace, you must always be moving forward as well. If client work is light on any particular day or week, use those extra minutes to tend to the seeds of your personal projects, those are the things that will pay dividends in the end, after all. Little things add up to big things. The most important thing is getting started. You don’t have to be great to get going, you have to get going to become great.
10) Never stop learning. Things change fast and you need to keep ahead. Learn everything you can and keep your appetite for knowledge stoked. You can never know it all, but you can always pay attention. The more you know, the better you can perform. Never be afraid to pay for the best advice, and always be willing to implement what you learn.
BONUS TIP: Network with great people in your field. There will be times when you need to farm out work and you cannot afford to compromise on your quality. This is important for the success of your business.
Stay tuned. Wednesday we’ll be publishing the next part in our series looking back at our first year online.