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Time management between on- and offline projects


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Hi everyone!

This is my first “official” post and I’d like to share some of the challenges I’ve faced since joining fiverr - in a way I’m also introducing myself to the fiverr community with this (again: Hi everyone!) I’ve been enjoying the posts of active members such @madmoo and @voiceoverwork, just to name a few, for a while now and I’ve joined fiverr about two years ago - It took me some time to write my own post (hey, I’m an introvert so it takes some time to open up) but here we go.

Maybe the things said here are old news for some of you, but maybe you find some of this useful or it stimulates you to add your own experience and contribute to the discussion…

One of the major challenges I’ve faced since joining fiverr is managing my time, especially when it comes to synching my online with my offline-activities, and I got inspired by a recent fiverr article on this topic.

At the moment, fiverr is one of different income streams I have. I moved from Germany to Italy a few years back and I’m lucky enough to live in the beautiful city of Rome, which is also challenging at times (hot, chaotic, expensive…)

While i’m an introvert, and that might seem like a contradiction, I’m extremely hyperactive. At least when it comes to projects. I love projects. And so I am now in the situation where I do many things I love: I play in a band here in Rome and I’m lucky enough that this allows me to travel a lot all over Italy, I do professional voice overs, I am a professional videographer for weddings (also, a lot of travelling all over Italy), I host international Open Mic nights in the center of Rome and I have many clients with a small company that I’ve startet two years ago with a friend of mine. Managing time here is crucial.

I can’t afford to be too tired after a day of work in the office when I need get on stage at night. I can’t get drunk after a concert when I need to be working on projects in the office the next morning. And I can’t be tired all the time when I have a girlfriend that sure doesn’t want to date a zombie.

Of course, with bad time management sooner or later a burnout is inevitable.

Simply, because it is REALLY hard to get all these activities in sync with each other. I love all of them. I don’t wanna give up on any of them. But at the same time, I need to deliver 120% with each of the activities I pursue. So here is how I try to harmonize all these activities with fiverr and how to be able to remain in control and to be able to deliver great results, stay motivated and still be able to enjoy what I’m doing.

  1. Make a plan with Excel (or OpenOffice or Numbers or [insert your favourite spreadsheet program])

    This is the time where those computer classes back at school come in handy. It really helps a lot to create a simple Excel Sheet with all the activities you need to do each day. Plan ahead for a few weeks. I like to create an excel sheet that also allows me to check everything I’ve done and write down how much time it took to get it done. This helps to improve my time planning for the future and to avoid unrealistic time constraints.

  2. Sync your calender

    I like to use my iCal and sync it with all my devices. That way I always receive a notification when a deadline or an event is about to arrive. Let’s admit it, we tend to forget things when there is a lot going on. I’ve created a calender for each of my activities, so I can choose to see them all at once or to filter out single calenders.

  3. Advanced Collaborative Project Management

    Use project management software. It really improves your workflow, especially if you’re working on a bigger projects and with other people. In the past I liked to use a web based solution called wiggio, where you can upload all kinds of documents, share calenders, create to-do lists etc. But there is also other great, free software out there - even if you simply use google docs.

  4. Create a stock footage folder

    This might seem unimportant, but over the years it really starts to pay off to have your own database with stock photos, videos, animations etc. that you can simply activate from your hard drive, rather than having to search for hours on the web. Start to download every stock item you come across into a dedicated folder now, or you might have to search for it again and lose valuable time.

  5. Backup. No seriously, you need to make a backup. Now.

    I use several hard drives and I always duplicate content. There are more elegant solutions, but eventually every hard drive will fail. You don’t want to be working on your most important project in your life when that happens. Not only will you lose the data, but it will take up useless amounts of time, money and increase stress levels a lot!

  6. Learn to turn off facebook. And twitter. And Youtube. And…

    Let’s admit it. It’s easy to get addicted to the social networks. But usually, the time we spend there is usually scrolling through all the activity of friends. Raise your hand if you’ve spend more than 20 Minutes today in front of any social platform. Stop it. Get productive.

  7. Know when actually you can use social media

    Now, if you use social media to promote yourself, then limit the maximum amount of time you’re spending on those networks. Also, consider doing it after you’re done with the productive part of the day. Spend little time, but spend it every day. As with most things, this will turn out much more efficient than trying to search for new potential customers for three hours.

  8. Optimize every single step

    My grandfather always told me: “Never walk with empty hands.” What he meant was, optimize as much as you can. If you go down to the basement, bring down empty bottles. If you come back up, bring back some full bottles. So for your offline world this means - if you need to get somewhere by car, try to get done as much as possible along the way. Go grocery shopping once, but big, so it lasts for a week, instead of going to buy your food every day, which means you need to leave the house several times a day. Online it means - if your computer is rendering a big file and is blocking your computer (and there is no other computer around for other work), maybe it is time to do the dishes. Optimize!

  9. Use your smartphone…

    A smartphone allows us to answer emails, reply to fiverr requests, check the calendar, insert new events, communicate all the time. This is great and allows you to stay in touch with your clients all the time - they will thank you for a swift response and you don’t need to reply when you get back home.

  10. …but not too much

    Then again, know when to take a break. You need to define times when you are not available. You might need to force yourself. Maybe you say: “I’m young and it’s not a problem” or “I need to be available for my customers 24/7.” Well, if you like then proceed this way, but be warned: the burnout is just around the corner. And when it hits, you might not be able to do anything at all for a few weeks.

    (part 2 below)
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(part 2):

11. Automize

I used to work for a company, which had a big client in the automotive sector (I’m not allowed to mention their name, but it’s an Italian firm). One day we needed to create a clickable index for hundreds of user manuals with tens of thousands of pages in total. While my colleagues opened Adobe Acrobat and started manually indexing every single page, I started researching for two days, not working on a single manual. The third day I gathered all the collegues around me and said: “Watch what I found.”. Three clicks later the entire user manual was indexed. Instead of taking 3 hours per manual, now we needed three clicks. More often than not repetetive tasks can be automized, saving you A LOT of time. You might need to search for a while if you’re not an IT guru, but eventually you’ll find a solution. Often it can save you DAYS or even WEEKS of work!

12. Invest

Always try to update your equipment every now and then. Whether it is a faster hard drive, a faster computer, a better microphone, better cables, new software - you need to keep up with your competition and if you’re smart about your new investments, they often lead to less time loss, because often the more professional the equipment, the less you need to jump through hoops to get the desired result. There’s a reason professional equpment is expensive, but over time usually you will be grateful you did. Also, because a good investment is less likely to break during an important moment.

13. Get yourself a fan

If you live in a rainy, cold country, you’re lucky (at least business-wise). If I look out of the window, I see sun. Hot sun. People walking around with their icecream. Sounds nice. But distracts an aweful lot from getting work done. To avoid the desire to go to the beach, I moved to a room where I don’t need to see them and I have a fan on, once it gets too hot. I like to work very early and very late, when it is coolest in the home office and I can leave the window open without hearing too many people enjoying their day.

14. Do sports

What does sports have to do with time management? I figured (at least it works for me), that while doing sports takes away time during the activity, I benefit and safe time shortly after:

  1. I’m much less likely to get sick (saves time!)
  2. I’m much more energetic and focused (saves time!)
  3. I need much less sleep than I usually would (saves time!)
  4. I feel better (doesn’t save time, but it’s pretty awesome)

  5. Allow for delays to happen

    I suppose most of us have been there that we couldn’t meet a deadline. If I have a gig somewhere hours away from where I live, and I know I won’t be back for another day, then I make sure that all my clients are aware of this and that they’re all cool with it. Communication is very important here. Usually they understand and if you don’t tell them the last second, it usually isn’t a problem. It has never been a problem for me so far. This will not safe you time directly, but instead of stressing yourself to work through the entire night, getting little sleep and performing horrible the next day, it will allow you to focus on the other project, deliver 100%, and then return to the previous project without being stressed and deprived of sleep.

  6. Get a laptop or mobile device to work on the road

    This solution is very useful, especially if you would waste a lot of time sitting in a car for hours (you could also sleep in the car if you like to optimize, but if you’re like me you’ll feel horrible afterwards). Of course you would need to connect your laptop to the internet, e.g. via your smartphone, and not everyone can work from a shaking car or from their hotel room, but you can use the time to reply to emails and take care of some organizational things you haven’t taken care off before

  7. Always reply immediately

    Not only is it very annoying for any client to wait for your answer (and you might lose a great offer), but also will the backlog kill you if you don’t stay on top of it. It takes a lot of discipline, but take your time, even if it is after work, and reply to all the emails, so you don’t need to answer hundreds of emails at the end of the week.

  8. Get a personal assistant

    You might be able to outsource certain tasks on- and offline. For the online-part, there are some great offers here on fiverr.

  9. One step at a time

    While you’re working, only focus on one BIG project at a time. That is, you might have many projects going on, but don’t open them all on your computer and juggle back and fourth between them. It is much more efficient to plan ahead and decide which milestone you would like to achieve to today with a particulare project, and only once you finished it to move on to the next project. I found this much more efficient than trying to multitask between 5 projects within 30 Minutes.

  10. Take a vacation

    Yes, you heard me right. You’re not a machine. You need to treat youself good or eventually your body will send you signs that it needs rest. Usually that’s when it’s too late. Consider that you will be able to do much more work with way better results if you’re in a good shape. This might be the hardest thing to do for me, but the outcome is totally worth it! Your body will thank you for it. And your customers. Ah, and of course, your partner!

    Did I forget something? Feel free to add your own suggestions. Looking forward to hear from you!

    Best regards,

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  • 2 months later...

Really great intuitive post. I understand that there are so many apps and tools that help you for better time tracking and time management.

In fact, many small businesses as well as people require it to track and manage all their business time & to this, I find Replicon time management software is one of the most useful and hassle free simple cloud based application. It can be quickly implemented and can be accessed from anywhere using web browser.

I also used tools such as Google calendar and Basecamp for my business projects. Still Replicon continued to be my preferred application for managing all my business project and time.

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