Header image

Archive for productivity

Have you got that back to school feeling?

apple and books

Back to school again?

What is it about this time of year that makes us take stock and start making plans for the future?

I don’t know about you, but I always have a certain sense of excitement at this time of year. Okay, I know, it’s still only August, but the schools in Scotland are already back (and no doubt schools elsewhere will be returning in a week’s time), and despite the fact it doesn’t feel like we’ve had much of a summer to speak of, I’ve noticed certain trees are starting to change colour already. I’m very much looking forward to September, which has always been one of my favourite months, the bridge between seasons and the ideal time to start and implement something new.

When is the best time to make plans?

Some would argue that January is a good time to sit down and think about where you’ve been, where you’re going and what you’re planning to do over the next few months. It seems like a natural time because of the turn of the year marking new beginnings and so on, but I don’t see this as the ideal turning point. Okay, so you might be in need of a bodily spring clean following the excesses of Christmas, but otherwise in my opinion it’s winter, it’s dark, it’s dreary and I don’t often feel that inspired!

This time of year, however, is completely different!

If you’ve got kids at school, or even if you haven’t, you might still feel a certain frisson of anticipation about the idea, at least, of going back to school, of starting a new class, having a new teacher and writing out new timetables. Just the idea of a new crisp uniform, a smart new schoolbag and a shiny new pencil case full of lovely new stationery is enough to conjure up memories that may well be a bit skewed by the passage of time!

The point is that the start of a new school year and the change in season always makes me think about starting something new, or in my case, finishing what I’ve started!

You might have read my post a while ago about getting out of my comfort zone and thinking about online courses.

Okay, I admit, this stalled a little bit at the start of the summer holidays.

I’m not going to beat myself up, though!

I’m starting again, and I’ve set myself a deadline of 16th September (my birthday!) to get my beta version up and running. I’m feeling a bit anxious about this again, but I’m going to attempt to push through the fear and Just Do It.

After all, what have I really got to lose?

I’d love to hear about what you’re planning to do now that the school year is beginning again and the seasons are changing. What exciting things have you got in the pipeline? Please do comment below, or pop over to my Facebook page to let me know.

Where does the time go?!?

clockDo you know how long it takes you to get stuff done in your business, whether that be client work, admin or even just popping onto Facebook for ‘five minutes’?

To be honest, I wasn’t sure until recently. I kind of knew on average how long it took me to do a piece of transcription work, depending on the number of speakers, audio quality and so on, but in reality, I wasn’t really sure. I might be focused on a job for a wee while, but then I would get sidetracked with something else and before I knew it, half the day would have disappeared and I wasn’t really sure how much I had actually achieved.

I know there are a million and one time tracking apps and gizmos out there, but the method that’s working for me is the simple stopwatch function on my phone.

I’m sure a few of you are familiar with the Pomodoro technique, whereby you use a timer to break down your time into chunks of, say, 25 minutes, and when the timer rings you give yourself a five minute break before starting on the next chunk of time. I haven’t exactly used this method before, but I had tried putting on the timer on my phone for an hour to see how much I would get done, and that did improve my focus, but only to a degree.

The stopwatch, however, actually measures how much time you’re spending on a job, and if you do need to take a break from what you’re doing, you can hit pause and go back to it in due course without ‘losing your place’, as it were. You might find that you don’t want to stop, mind you, as it becomes a bit of a case of mind over matter in the battle over who will win, you or the stopwatch!

It’s also a great way to track what’s coming into your business on a daily basis. I’ve started logging the time spent on transcription (and proofreading) work on a spreadsheet and it calculates each job’s hourly rate based on my ‘per audio minute’ rate and the time spent on the job and gives me a weekly total and a running monthly total. It’s quite an eye opener and a fantastic way to reach your targets.

Do you use a stopwatch or other time tracking software in your business? Please either comment below or pop over to my Facebook page and let me know!