Working smarter

Taking charge of how I want to work

What if you want to stop seeing clients in the evenings or on weekends? You want to shorten the length of your appointments? You want to put your prices right up?

In my experience the biggest obstacle to all of these has just been my own worry.

I've spent an awful lot of time worrying about making these kind of changes. When I've gone ahead and done them though, it's caused barely a ripple of response.

Within a year, I drew a line in the sand

Four food traps to avoid when working from home

I am SO getting fatter spending all this time sitting at my computer!

My day has become rather structured around the sequence of meals. Oh dear.

Hooray that I need to take the dog for her walkies every day, so at least I do get out of the house.

A nice little article about some of the reasons that self-employment may lead to over-eating:

How to work from home and not gain weight? Being aware of these common traps will help:

Nervous eating at networking meetings

How to say no to a client

It just sounds wrong, doesn’t it? Saying no to the people who put food on our table?

But sometimes, it may be completely right. All round.

Ever been asked to do a little ‘extra’ or ‘help out’ an existing customer… and felt like you couldn’t say no? We’ve all been there.

In fact, saying no to an existing client or customer is one of the biggest problems faced by natural people-pleasers.

Keeping the RIGHT clients

In my line of work, and I reckon in yours, half of the knack of building a good business is in avoiding the D4s.
 
What do I mean?
 
You rate your customers in two ways.  One to four is on fees, or the income they generate for you.  One is good and four is bad. 
 
A to D is how much of a nuisance they are.  How much of your time they take, and how much bother they are to you.  D is bad.
 

Do you have appointments on Saturdays?

Oh, if I only had a penny for every new client who asks if I do weekends. Or appointments before 8am. Or after 8pm.

I’ve pretty much always drawn the line at working weekends, and I’ve just never been any kind of morning person, but when I started my practice, I used to work till 10pm.

I would go home every day shattered.

I’ve noticed that I find each hour of working after 7pm about twice as exhausting as each hour before.

Five steps to delegation

Having too much to do seems to be a permanent feature of working for yourself.

Oops, hang on a tick while I just answer the phone, send three emails and find a cure for cancer. OK, now where was I?

Oh yes. If you’re way too busy, but you’re lucky enough to have a helper, here are five steps to delegation, and giving yourself space to think.

Five steps to making a good decision

Making decisions can be one of the hardest parts of running your own business. Heck, even just figuring out which decisions you should be making!

Kayla Albert's article is a story about deciding whether to accept a job - and that's hopefully not a decision we're making - but she gives five nice steps on how to make a good decision:

Decisions, decisions

Running your own business does seem to be an endless series of decisions. I love it, and I hate it.

Do I employ someone? Can I do this myself? Will this be better done by someone else? Can I afford the cost of this being done by someone else?

Do I want to take the company in this direction? Should I change from being a wholesaler to an agency? Is this bad for the business or is this good for the business? Does this realistically fit with how much capability I have? Am I ignoring that?

Criticizing someone NICELY

Are you lucky enough to have someone working for you?

If so, it must surely be a challenge to work out how to let them know about any ways in which they're NOT doing a great job.

Here are eight cool tips on how to be kind while being cruel. Well, how to be be kind while providing constructive criticism. Obvs.

How to Criticize — and Be Loved for it

Do you know the feeling when you want criticize someone’s behaviour, but you’re scared of damaging your relationship with that person?

Rewarding the right behaviours

A bit like the dogs in my local park, some of my clients are better behaved than others.

Some of them always honour their appointments, arrive on time, pay promptly, and are a pleasure to spend time with. Others, not so much.

How to cultivate more of the former and less of the latter? As with the dogs in the park, I suspect there's quite a lot to be gained by making sure we reward the right behaviours.

The joy of actually just getting on with your admin

The overwhelming elation of actually having finished a dull dull admin task should never be underestimated.

I just browsed facebook and saw my friend’s status update: “after two days and two large bin bags worth of shredding, the backlog of paperwork now fits in the filing cabinet!”

I laughed, and remembered last week, when another self-employed friend told me that when he finished doing his VAT return, he was filled with such uncontainable achievement that he punched the air with heartfelt joy.

Monkey management

Once upon a time, in a decade that seems far far away, I had a job. Like, with a boss, and everything. And during those years I went on an awful lot of training courses.

From all those courses the thing that I remember most distinctly is the 15 minutes where they explained the concept of monkey management.

The idea is that our working lives are filled with monkeys, which are tasks and problems that need sorting out.

The book that got me organised

It was my dad who recommended ‘Getting Things Done’ by David Allen to me, and I was sceptical.

I ordered it and it sat on the shelf in my sitting room for six months.

I ignored it, with the words ‘Getting Things Done’ beaming out at me the whole time I was watching TV.

Anyway, finally I read it and it changed my life.

Well, it helped me get MUCH more organised and a bit less stressed.

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