Cleaning Desks and Self-Managing

This year has already been BIG. Contracts are coming in, people are talking about various projects, and awesomeness is on the horizon. I can’t talk about a bunch of those things just yet, but as soon as I can you had better believe that they’ll be bubbling out of my mouth with childish glee and excitement.

But for now, I’m going to talk about the disaster that is my desk. It’s bad. Atrocious.Over the weekend there was a whirlwind of cleaning the rest of the apartment, of organizing things to make life easier and all around easier to work with.

Even while I write this, I’m not at my desk. I’m out a cafe putting off getting that thing organized.  It doesn’t feel like work yet, and if I spend my morning dealing with that I’ll spiral off into things that aren’t particularly effective uses of my time. It comes with knowing yourself. Knowing that this doesn’t mean I’m not going to clean up the desk, but I’m going to clean it up tonight instead of during the day. It still counts as work, but it doesn’t directly pay the bills.

I had a conversation with someone last night about the bizarre nature of being a freelancer, and the sinking feeling that some hours aren’t directly billable. When you finish a meeting with a client, or finish a pile of pitches, there’s a weird feeling of guilt or something. Those hours weren’t paid. You have nothing to, directly, show for them. You’re still tired, still using energy, but they aren’t directly creating money for you.

There’s two lessons I think you need to take away from those, and both of them apply no matter the size of your business. As you keep growing, as you keep getting bigger, you need to start spending more and more time taking care of the business. These aren’t things that directly make you money, but they should be saving you money, making you more efficient, and still producing. That’s the reality of it: you can’t spend every minute of every day doing the things that are directly making you money. Taking care of the business in other ways is just as important, and needs to also be treated like work.

The other side is making sure that your contracts are making enough money to cover all those times that you’re doing work that isn’t directly paid. It’s difficult at the beginning, but as you get better and more established it will become easier to gauge how much time needs to be spent on those other tasks. You’ll know that you have so many hours of research on a project, so you know how to weave those into the monies you’ll be charging.

What about everyone else? Any other big challenges out there on knowing yourself and keeping yourself managed?

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