Monday, June 1, 2009

Staying on Task to Get it All Done

To say that last week was challenging for me would be an understatement. Multiple deadlines, kids at home for the summer, one very sick kid, and trying to find a new mini van (ours was recently stolen >:/) just about pushed me over the edge. I survived, of course, but realized that a lot of my problems stemmed from procrastination and allowing myself to entertain unimportant distractions instead of staying on task.

What happened to my mojo?

I don't know if it's the season change or what, but despite scheduled projects I've been having a difficult time concentrating on one thing and staying focused. I'm not burned out or anything, just very distracted. As a result, I procrastinated a lot last week and when an unexpected illness cropped up with one of my kids, I was left sweating to meet deadlines.

Even though I met my obligations as promised, I put unnecessary stress on myself, and also risked the quality of the work I produced. I certainly can't afford to lose the clients I've worked so hard to acquire, so I'm working on finding solutions to help keep me on task during the week.

Setting goals

Here's a big part of my problem. When I first started freelancing I set daily goals, monthly goals, six month goals and long-term goals. This might be too anal for some, but it gave me the eye of the tiger. Setting goals gives you a start line and an opportunity to create a strategy to reach the finish line.

Create a to-do list

I'm completely lost without lists because my priorities are scattered all over the place. When I make a to-do list, I accept the fact that everything listed may not get done. I assign priority to each task in order of importance and get on with the work of crossing things off.


I don't know about you, but the reward system works like a charm for me. Whether I'm slaving away on a client's project, dieting or buying a new car with my husband (trust me, it's NOT a fun experience), having something to look forward to helps me keep a steady pace and get things done. I'm a simple girl, so a treat for me is a couple of hours sans kids to see a movie, window shopping in Little 5 Points (Atlanta's version of New York's East Village), browsing around the library, my favorite book store or having lunch with friends. Rewarding yourself with something fun for all your hard work is essential.


Anonymous said...

Rewards are really important. I hate daily to-do lists because that's too structured for me.

Check out my GDR site, where we set yearly goals and then break them down into monthly lists.

Remeber the importance of setting boundaries and sticking to them. Your work is every bit as important as everyone else's -- just because you do it at home does not mean you can be interrupted all the time. With kids out of school, things get reshuffled, so think about sitting the whole family down to establish the ground rules for the summer.

Kimberly Ben said...

Devon, I will definitely check out your site - Thanks!

I like your advice about sitting everyone down and establishing ground rules. By nature I like to fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, but find that I must establish some sort of schedule to balance my work with raising four kids. I am going to take your advice and set down some rules to help reduce the chaos.

Lori said...

Someone stole your MINIVAN? Wild!

Rewards for me are shoes. I rewarded myself plenty last year to the tune of, well, a lot of shoes. The count is over 45 pairs now. Shoes are affordable, sexy, colorful, fun....

Oooo. I feel another pair coming on. ;)

I hope your kiddo is feeling better. When they're ill, it throws everything off kilter, doesn't it?

Kimberly Ben said...

Yes, sick kids throw me into a mild panic every time. BTW, Lori: I'm somewhat of a shoe fanatic too!;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't think I could survive without to-do lists. And what better satisfaction is there than checking off a task once it's complete? To see a visible sign of your progress is incredibly motivating and satisfying.

Kimberly Ben said...

OMG, janineduff, that's EXACTLY how I feel! I'm lost without a list. I'd forget my head if it weren't screwed on.;)

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