As more employees become accustomed to life as a freelancer or self-employed person, it becomes evident that prioritising tasks isn’t a strong point of most people! That’s not a dig because to rank jobs in terms of their importance is tough. Whether you’re based in a traditional workspace or a home office, figuring out the puzzle is a valuable asset for any employee or boss.
However, it’s not as if you can look at a Rubik’s cube and decipher the colours, not when you’ve never tackled one before. The same goes for figuring out which projects should be at the top of your to-do list and which ones are fine to complete later down the line.
It’s worth noting that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all policy here – whatever makes you feel comfortable is a success story. Still, if you have no idea where to begin, it’s vital to learn more about the common techniques that will enhance your ability to prioritise tasks as a freelancer or self-employed person.
The good news is, you don’t have to go far to find them as they are outlined underneath! Here are four of the most effective ways to ensure you’re categorising your jobs correctly.
The first step is to create a to-do list as far too many people like to wing it and think of the top of their heads. Unless you have an eidetic memory, there’s no way you’ll remember all of your jobs, never mind which ones need finishing as early as possible. So, grab a pen and paper and get scribbling!
Once the tasks are written down or on your computer screen, it’s time to assign values. A straightforward one-to-five scale will suffice – one being the least important and five the most – as there’s no reason to complicate matters. The key to determine the tasks that should take priority as it’s harder than it sounds.
If in doubt, remember a few of the following questions:
- Which tasks are under the tightest deadline?
- Are there any tasks that you can push back?
- How much is the value of each task?
The last question is essential because it’s tempting to assign value to stuff that isn’t overly important, and vice versa. For example, spending all day sending emails doesn’t feel as productive as writing content or crafting marketing campaigns. However, corresponding with clients about future projects or chasing unpaid invoices are critical to the company’s cash flow.
Break Tasks Into Chunks
When you look at specific projects, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed about the size of the job. Developing an ad strategy, for instance, is something that takes professional agencies weeks to do, and they have swarms of employees to lean on. Still, you can take a note from their book and split the biggest roles into smaller chunks.
By doing this, you achieve two things. Firstly, you’ll encourage yourself to procrastinate less and be more productive. Why? It’s because there will be fewer excuses to harm your motivation levels. Secondly, you should address the project in the most efficient way possible. Rather than spending all day focusing on a single element, seeing it as a multifaceted task will allow you to multitask.
Again, it’s easy to view marginal gains as too small and insignificant. In reality, it’s a doctrine that the most successful entrepreneurs use to tackle their workload and maintain a high level of output. After all, small improvements add up in the long-term.
Everything from the growth of global brands in international markets to Britain’s cycling dominance in the Olympics is down to marginal gains. If it’s good enough for gold medalists and knights of the realm!
Study Project Management
In business, you’ll come across the notion that a lot of attributes are innate and can’t be taught. Usually, it’s a way for bosses to dismiss people who they perceive to be inferior, even if their numbers are strong and indicate otherwise. A prime example is leadership. According to conventional wisdom, leaders are born.
Unfortunately, this flawed logic prevents you from attempting to better yourself in less traditional areas, such as project management. Managing deadlines while dealing with different variables is a valuable skill that entrepreneurs require to be successful, so it makes sense that a graduate diploma in project management is a savvy move.
Once you learn about the ins and outs of the skill of managing people and clients, you’ll be more equipped to deal with issues that pop-up out of the blue. More importantly, you’ll cherish the organisation and prepare to succeed before the job starts. The trick is not to let peer pressure stop you from understanding contemporary theory, principles, and best practices.
You can learn it, and now is a suitable time to enroll since most people have extra free time to spare. Even if you don’t, an online course is less intensive and demanding.
Some bosses find it hard to delegate or outsource tasks to employees and third-parties. You may see it as a sign that you’re not management material as you should be able to deal with a heavy workload. The opposite is true – the best leaders know when to invest their time and when to pass it off to a colleague or external company.
You must do it, too. Not only does it allow you breathing space, giving you time to concentrate on the tasks that demand your attention, but it also empowers employees. Workers require a mix of responsibility and the freedom to make decisions as it gives them a sense of independence.
Delegating to the team highlights that you trust them with certain tasks, and won’t micromanage their workload, boosting morale. It’s a fantastic way to sharpen your communication skills, too.
If in doubt, you shouldn’t be afraid to pass off your tasks to other people. It’s not a cop-out – it’s a strategic move that’s best for your business.
How do you prioritise your tasks so that you have the best chance of success? What are your tricks of the trade? Do you enjoy the freelance life?