Holding Yourself Accountable, Part Two
Photo by tallkev.
In this article, I’m going to talk about how you can hold yourself accountable on a weekly basis. Before we get started, why not open the first article on daily accountability in a separate browser window.
Now that you have that first article open, here’s an idea that will help you on a daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. You generate a lot of ideas. They don’t stop coming when you’re marching through the day. And they certainly don’t take time off for evenings and weekends.
A lot of creatives stress themselves out when they try to stay focused, but they just can’t suppress their Idea Machine. Don’t do that. Your Idea Machine is most valuable thing you have. The trick is to be prepared for those wonderful moments when great ideas pop into your head. This means setting some traps for those ideas.
While some people use electronic devices to do this, I prefer the low-tech pen and paper method. There are notepads and pens scattered throughout my house. I also carry a couple of notepads whenever I leave the house. With this trapping system, very few ideas manage to escape.
Next, I toss the idea-laden scraps of paper into my in-box and deal with them. Some get integrated into my work projects. Some are reminders of things that I need or want to do. Others find their way into Freelance Switch articles like this one. And more than a few are (gasp!) discarded.
Doing the Do-Get-Run
Every week, I create a one-page list of things that need to happen in my business life. Call it the weekly “Gotta-Do” list. I divide it into three categories:
- DO. This section covers the things that people pay me to do. Accountants like to call them “profit centers.” “Do” items are what I’m covering when I answer the “What did I do to make money today?” Daily Accountability Question (DAQ).
- GET. This covers marketing and sales efforts. When I answer the “What did I do to bring in business today?” DAQ, I’m writing about the “Gets.”
- RUN. Even though you’re busily Doing and Getting business, there are other things that need to be handled. They fall into four sub-categories:
- You’ll need to deal with your business’ Accounting and Bookkeeping needs or oversee the work of your numbers person.
- Then there are those times when you climb up on your CEO perch for a “big picture” view of your business. Perhaps you’re writing a business plan so you can get outside funding. Or you might be evaluating how this year has gone so far. These are Administrative tasks.
- Then there’s your Legal work. This is best handled by a lawyer, but there’s nothing wrong with drafting your studio’s Web design contract, then having a lawyer put the finishing touches on it.
- Last but not least, there’s Office and Business Management. This is where you’re managing the work of subcontractors or employees, researching potential purchases, and making those purchases. Some of these tasks can be delegated or outsourced to a Virtual Assistant.
Some of my weekly “Gotta-Dos” relate to ongoing work, but others involve meetings on Thursday afternoon, or bills that I need to pay by Friday. This is where idea-trapping comes in handy. (Excuse me, I need to remind myself to do a business draw check tomorrow. There. I just wrote myself a note and put it in the in-box.)
Here’s what this week’s “Gotta-Do” list looks like…
The “Dos” relate to my current Web design work:
- Finishing a website template project for Client A.
- Starting on website design projects for Clients B and C.
The “Gets” cover my sales and marketing efforts. Here’s what I’m doing on the sales front:
- Closing a website redesign sale with Prospect A. I sent her a proposal late last week.
- Informing Prospects B and C of my latest work. These two aren’t to the proposal stage like Prospect A. But, over time, I’m working on getting them there.
- Seeking sales prospects via:
- Scrutinizing press release feeds, news articles, and e-mail newsletters for leads, and then contacting them.
- Attending events and meetings.
On the marketing side, I’m working on enhancements to my website and blog, which, I hope, will improve their visibility. And I’m working on this article.
The “Run” category includes a bill-paying session , and seeking a government agency’s help with in getting a refund from a utility company that had been overcharging me.
Reviewing and Evaluating the Week
I’m writing this as the work week’s drawing to a close. So, it’s time to climb up to that CEO perch for some review and evaluation. I like to write a one-page summary of how the week has gone. This summary, which I call the “Rev/Ev,” covers:
- Notable things that happened in my three major business categories:
- A one-sentence summary of my morale. Then I write a brief explanation of why it is the way it is. For example, if I’ve been feeling down because cash flow has been sluggish, then it’s time to step up the collection efforts. Not to mention the efforts to find faster paying clients.
- One idea for improving my business. This is where idea-trapping really helps.You’ll be amazed at how many good ideas you can generate. You might find yourself having to pick just one out of the pack!
Here, my focus is on what went well, and what could have been done better.
So, there you have it. Accountability on a weekly basis. In my next article, I’ll show you how to do it on a monthly basis.