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Stop bouncing around and focus


Everyone has tons of things to do, and when we do something we want it to count. For most of us freelancers, doing the work for pay has top priority. That gets done.

But many of us flounder when it comes to the marketing side of our business or being proactive in our search for higher paying markets.

Why? It’s new territory. And many of the things that fall under that marketing or proactive category require multiple steps before you get the payoff.

Take for instance, getting an effective presence on LinkedIn and using it as a marketing tool. It’s not a sit-down-in-an-hour-and-mark-it-off-the-to-do-list kind of project.

Here are the steps I have underneath this one project:

1. Take a class on what I should be doing to be effective on LinkedIn.
2. Get a photo taken to represent me on the site.
3. Join groups.
4. Participate in the groups.
5. Rewrite my profile.
6. Start sharing information or doing things on a weekly basis to show activity.
7. Learn how to use the features of LinkedIn to delve deeper into finding leads and finding job opportunities.
8. Find job opportunities and send out LOIs (letters of introduction) to the ones that sound promising.

This one item has been on my To Do list for several months. Do I have it done? No. I took one class to learn what I should be doing. I have an appointment to get a professional digital photo taken. I joined a new group and commented a couple times. I downloaded an e-book on how to work within LinkedIn, which I haven’t yet read. That’s the extent of it.

I haven’t received any return because it’s only half-way there.

Now, during these few months I’ve done other things: I set up a new blog site. I updated my Twitter profile. I’ve read hundreds of helpful blog posts about how to improve my productivity, find new clients, etc. I’ve bookmarked or downloaded free trials of several new apps and software. I’ve downloaded free and paid e-books that abound in good tips. I’ve taken a number of free webinars on different topics regarding freelance and fiction writing.

But here’s the kicker. While all these things are helpful and beneficial in and of themselves, they’ve detracted me from completing my goal.

My free trials expire without my actually having tried them out. I forget I have the e-books. Sometimes I even buy them twice!

While I’m learning the tools of my craft, I’m not getting ahead of the game. In short, I’m not focused.

Bouncing around introduces us to a lot of valuable information, but it’s not the best use of our time when we have goals that need to be implemented.

Here are several ways to stop bouncing around and get focused.

1. List all the steps needed to complete a project. (Realize you may find more in the process). Give yourself a timeframe for completing the overarching goal and set individual timeframes for each step.
2. Edit the email blog posts, seminar announcements, etc. in your inbox. Save only the ones that are most valuable to you.
3. Set aside a certain time each day to accomplish ongoing tasks related to your goal, such as reading and responding to blog posts, etc. Don’t get distracted during the day when you’re slated to work on other projects.
4. When you complete a project, celebrate! Give yourself a mini-reward whether it’s a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate. Let others know so they can compliment you on what you’ve done.
5. Get started on your next project!

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8 Responses to “Stop bouncing around and focus”

  1. Kathy Maeglin Says:

    God knows I have trouble staying focused! I like your five-step plan. I’ve learned that if I want to get something done, it has to be on my calendar, and I have to honor that the same way I would honor any other appointment.

  2. Shari Held Says:

    Isn’t that the truth! My style is to pick the low-hanging fruit – get as many of the easy things off my To Do list as I can. Regardless of the importance or the payoff. That’s why it takes me a long time to do something more complicated. We’re all working on this issue together!

  3. kathrynmaeglin Says:

    I like your five-point plan, Shari. Now if I can just focus enough to follow it! 😉

  4. Michael Eldridge Says:

    Great start. Please keep’m coming.

  5. Shari Held Says:

    Thank you! I will certainly try!

  6. Oberon Wonch Says:

    Hi, Shari! Love the idea behind this blog. Maybe your tips will help turn me around one of these days! I make lists all over the place. Used to be on notepads, then on sticky notes. Now I put lists on my laptop (Word documents or in my calendar) or on my smart phone (in Notes or in Reminders or voice notes.) You name it, I try to use it. Then I forget to look at it, LOL!

  7. Shari Held Says:

    I hear you, Oberon. And I have this problem as well. My computer screen is covered with stickies. And I have a To Do app on my iPhone that I periodically use. Plus my Franklin Planner, etc. Not very efficient. Your comment reminded me that I had found an online To Do list – http://missioncontrolhq.com/. I found out about it in a blog post! (While I was avoiding getting my LinkedIn account up to snuff!) I just went back to it and marked off a few things. It’s free and lets you add multiple people, so it is also a good way to keep track of a project with multiple participants. You might want to check it out. At least my desktop is sticky-free now! Although, since it doesn’t reside on my desktop, I tend to forget about it!

  8. Jan Aldridge Says:

    I can commiserate with so much that you’re saying, Shari. Your post has encouraged me and given me several good ideas to implement. I do okay with meeting personal writing goals. But as an introvert, my challenge falls under your oh-so-necessary words join,participate,sharing,send out… -sigh- But I’ll get there!

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