Feeling Overwhelmed? How Getting Focused Helped Me Get Grounded
By Mid-October of 2016, I will log the same amount of hours I logged for all of 2015. Simply put, I'm on track for a 20% growth in the number of billable hours this year. With our goal of buying a house in the near future, this has been a welcome increase.
This also means I'm currently cruising at slightly above my maximum capacity. At the end of last month, I hit a wall and was burnt out. In fact, I had to delay working with one new client and say no to another prospect who wanted to work with me.
Since there is more work to be done than I have time to do, I had to set up a simple way for me to finish my week while also leaving behind any feeling of being overwhelmed when I entered the weekend. I also wanted to make sure my clients were taken care of and, while much of the work I'm involved in does not have hard deadlines, I wanted to move tasks forward.
So, I modified my weekly check-in to address this. My goal every Monday is to send my clients a weekly check-in. As part of this, I'll let them know what I'm working on for the week. In my freelancing dashboard in Airtable, I created a field to list my week's goals and a way to filter them based on completion. This allows me to knock out the goals early in the week and use the remaining days to work on less important items.
This results in me completing my top priorities early in the week as well as getting a ton of secondary items finished. By this week's end, I'm feeling great about my progress and clients are happy their important stuff is done.
The other piece of the puzzle was scheduling out my time to work out the number of hours each client has committed to for the month. In the same Airtable dashboard as I did above, I also added a pace of hours I need to complete daily to complete the number of hours I've collectively got on my plate.
With these two changes, I now see my top priorities and how many hours I need to work for each client. Addressing my root feelings of being out of control and overwhelmed are now gone.
So, how do you go about prioritizing your work when you've got too much going on?