How prioritising your goals may set you in a better mood to work on someone else’s tasks

As a freelancer, you probably have a long to-do list for every day. Customer’s projects, administration, marketing, your projects, new collaborations… You could easily work 24/7 and you still wouldn’t be able to tick off every single item.

You’ve probably heard about the Eisenhower Method that recommends prioritising tasks that are both important and urgent. Once this category is done, you move on to items that are important but not urgent. The other two categories (“not important but urgent” and “not important and not urgent”) can be either rescheduled, delegated or totally ignored.

It all sounds great, reasonable, and efficient. But what if this method still doesn’t help you cope with the amount of your projects? What if you still can’t find time to work not only in your business, but also on your business?

Maybe it’s time to experiment with the way you structure your tasks.

What about starting your day from items that are the most important to you?

This is why such an approach might be a good idea:

 

Your plans and goals matter.

Urgent tasks are usually not related to your goals. Nor to your priorities. It’s often someone else’s idea, request, or project. If you keep starting your work with such tasks, you might quickly lose your motivation. Focusing on someone else’s plans for too long may drain your energy, leaving you with no appetite to work on your goals.

It’s great to help your colleagues and customers. It’s also rewarding to have a constant flow of paid projects coming in. But there must be some space for your plans as well.

That’s why it’s so important to define what’s important.

To you and your business.

If you assign at least 30 minutes per day to work on your projects, you’ll be able to focus on your growth. You’ll gain a different perspective and maybe even…

 

Your mindset will change.

There’s something magical in taking a pause when everything is spinning around. E-mails overflowing your inbox, countless projects in progress, new requests coming in…

Instead of jumping in and letting the whirl consume you, you simply take a step back. Instead of starting your day from the seemingly urgent requests, you work on that important project that will help your business grow. It might be a new website, new products, or services – anything that you hope will transform your business or attract more customers.

For example, my regular day in the office starts from working on my business ideas: online courses, books, blog posts, webinars. It’s sometimes tough to postpone the “urgent” tasks by one hour, when I’m done with the most creative part of my work. But I keep reminding myself that this is the most efficient way for me to actually do something more than just completing my customer’s projects (which of course I also enjoy).

If you begin your day with that which is important to you, you may actually feel that you’ve achieved something. You’ll be one step closer to reaching your goals, which generates more motivation, satisfaction, and energy to be able to move to other, less important, but more urgent items.

Plus, the first hours of the day are usually the most creative. A scientific study confirmed that there are more connections in our brain in the morning, which makes it the best time to write, design, compose music, etc. Evenings in turn are better for editing and proofreading, when the analytical part of the brain is more active.

Wouldn’t it be great to fill this early creativity phase with tasks that help you accomplish your goals?

Try if for one or two days, and see if…

 

Your workflow will change.

But what if the urgent tasks really are urgent? Shouldn’t you prioritise them? Isn’t it careless to start your day from your own projects instead of focusing on what your client wants?

Probably it is.

If you begin your day too late.

Urgent items are urgent for some reason. Your customer’s deadlines and requirements do matter. But as a freelancer, you need to concentrate on your business as well to make sure you keep some degree of freedom. That means you can decide how to structure your day. And when to begin it.

Even the shortest time spent on working on your goals every day will produce enough dopamine in your brain to help you tick off all the other tasks on your to-do list.

Maybe getting closer to your goals every morning will be so accomplishing that you won’t even need that extra cup of coffee that motivates you to work on your client’s requests?

 

Over to you

How do you structure your freelance work? What’s the first thing you focus on?

 

P.S. I share more tips on time management for freelancers in my free e-book “How to make the best use of your time”.

And if you’re looking for advice on how to manage your time when you have to juggle work with motherhood, have a look at my book “You’ve got this: How to continue your freelance career when you become a mother”.

 

Dorota helps businesses and individuals to communicate successfully across cultures in the online and offline world. She is a qualified translator and an entrepreneur supporting other self-employed professionals on their path towards building a more successful business.