I kicked off summer with a trip to HOW Design Live in Atlanta. My absolute favorite thing was hanging out with my peeps from the Designers Roundtable (the accountability group I’m a member of). Like me, most of my Designers Roundtable peeps are freelancers who love their independence and want to grow in their own way. We all have individual 6-month goals, and monthly goals that help us get there. Along the way, we keep each other informed, accountable and moving forward. I usually see them on our monthly video chats—but in Atlanta, I got to hang out with them in the flesh. We ate, drank, chatted and attended sessions together.
But we weren’t just hanging out in Atlanta—we were at HOW—with a packed schedule of sessions and speakers available to us. Though I have to say, this year was a little bit different than usual. For starters, we freelancers noticed there weren’t as many sessions specifically geared to us as there were before. There used to be an entire room full of us! I also think HOW outpriced a lot of freelancers by fully incorporating the “Creative Entrepreneur” track into the rest of the conference. And since the “Creative Entrepreneur” track seemed to be geared at newer freelancers, the sessions didn’t quite fit me.
I did, however, find myself attending sessions from the “In-House Management” track. One session about workflow really charged my batteries. Here’s my takeaway:
I’m going to write down my process from start to finish and include every single step.
By documenting everything I do, I feel like I can better understand the value I bring to clients. Some of it seems super-easy to me; it comes naturally—but this session reminded me that we don’t always see the value in what we provide because it comes so naturally to us. It seems like good timing since I’m going to redo my website (I’ll be following my own new free report: Get Your Website Done: 12 Actionable Steps for Designers and blogging about it). Step 2 is “define your services,” and by writing down my process, I’ll hopefully be able to see and share them more clearly.
My second takeaway is from Elle Luna’s session, The Crossroads of Should and Must. She talked about changing shoulds into musts. In the midst of project-chaos, I’m always saying, “I should find a better way to schedule projects.” Now I’ve decided that I must find a better way to schedule projects. Here’s my plan:
I’m going to completely change the way I book projects.
Instead of telling people I can start their project in two weeks, I’m going to figure out how many slots I have per month and fill the slots accordingly. I’ve been tracking my work for 9 years, and right now, I think my happy place is 3 projects per month. Once I document my process from start to finish, I might be able to increase efficiency and add one more slot. To be determined!
Sure, I’m afraid nobody’s going to want to work with me if they have to wait. I’m afraid there will be crickets. But I must do this because it’s affecting my sanity! Plus, this worked when I was on maternity leave—why can’t it work day-to-day?
Like I said when I came back from maternity leave, I don’t have time for bull$hit. We all have the same amount of time each day. It’s how we use it that matters. I’m on a quest to use mine well—and I’ll let you know what I learn.