Taming the Whirlwind

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At 11:00am on 4/22/2017, I attended Taming the Whirlwind, presented by Nathan Ingram, at the 2017 Wordcamp Conference in Raleigh, NC

Taming the Whirlwind

Simple strategies to use to move your company on the right track moving forward. Nathan is a freelance webdeveloer using wordpress exclusively since 2010. He loves seeing freelancers move forward.

Slides can be seen http://www.nathaningram.com/wcraleigh

Challenges

The Common Struggle
Freelancers face common challenges. In four years of coaching conversations, I’ve found very few unique issues.
You are not alone.
The details are different, but the problems are the same. You’re not alone. If you think you’re the only one who is too busy with client work, isolation, billing, stable income, new clients, you’re not alone. No one has it together. None of us do.

Strategy vs. Execution: Execution is what we do, Strategy is how and why we do it. Both are Critical. Most Freelancers Appreciate Strategy. Become more efficient, more productive, more profitable.The common struggle is Strategy vs. Execution. Execution is what we do, and Strategy is how and why we do it. Both are critical. Most of the time freelancers are great with execution, but are poor at strategy. Not many of us have business backgrounds. You want to do the things which really matter to you.

We’ll name the issues, and then we’ll talk about how to make this happen.

As freelancers we appreciate strategy. Become more productive, more profitable. SO, why is it so hard to keep strategy in focus. WHy do we go to such great info, but we never implement it. Its not that you didn’t have the intention its that life got in the way. Years up the road, there isn’t a big change in the way things have happened.

The Whilrwind

The Whirlwind is the urgent- the energy and attention needed to run your business. Its the half hour client meeting that turns into an hour and half. You have things you want to do, and your time to do it, seems to last 2 minutes. While goals and strategies are important, the whirlwind is urgent, and urgent wins every time.

As important as goals and stretegies are, they seem to get pushed to the future.

Consider using the sheets. You are your most important client. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re in the same place next year. Set a calendar point, with a time and 2 alarms. DOn’t get intimidated by the strategy session. Schedule it and keep your appointment. If you fail to do this, you can become an evaporating web developer.

Identify your Goals (2-4 hours)
In a 2-hour goalsetting session, unplug your phone, laptop, etc. Print the material on paper and fill this by hand. Decide on what it is that you really, really need to do.

>ADVANCE Goal Worksheets: nathaningram.com/wcraleigh to download these.
The first page here is a declaration template, and there is a second page which includes a pre-filled form. IF you have found a way to create a recurring revenue (maintenance contract), that pays your salary, you just made things much easier.
Be specific in here and match the SMART system. What is the difference between the dream and the attainable goal? what will you need to understand? What templates can you build to make this easy. Don’t forget the R- the RELEVANCE. If you don’t have a WHY in the mix, you will not be able to keep out the whirlwind.

Time setting allows you to require a timeline. The declaration template says: I will__ by__ because__.

Initial Planning Session
Build out a weekly action item setup where you are setting aside 2-4hrs actionable tasks to keep you on task.

What are the changes I most need to make?
• Prioritize: which bring immediate results?
• Pick your top 3 goals
Don’t pick what you like, but the thing which will bring the most immediate result. You probably won’t enjoy it, or you would have done it already.

Initial Planning Session
What are the changes I most need to make?
• Break down top 3 goals into action items
• Plan action items that will take 2-4 hours each
Top goals will have 12-15 weekly action items. Good. NOw you have several months of material to do. and you’ll do it. Its small action steps, but if you look back, you’ll see how far you’ve come. If you’re just thinking, it could be month before your finished thinking.

setting and seeing results brings momentum. and built momentum is harder to slow.

Weekly Planning Session
30 min – 1 hour planning each week.
Plan time to execute on at least 1 action.
Planning a week is a great concept. If you don’t have the week planned when the week begins, you will not have an easy time getting started because the whirlwind is already waiting. If you’re too busy to plan in advance, you need to plan more than you can possibly imagine.

Weekly Planning Session
Most of us are too busy not to plan.
Without a plan, the whirlwind always wins.

Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
– Friday afternoon?
– Sunday Evening?
-Early Monday morning?
As soon as you hit the desk, there’s distractions waiting.

Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
It’s hard to plan
in the middle of the whirlwind.

Weekly Planning Session
Plan the week before it starts
Schedule time to accomplish
your objectives
Strategy Overview
Initial Planning Session
Week 1
Action
Week 1
Planning
Week 1
Execution
Week 2
Action
Week 2
Planning
Week 2
Execution
Week 3
Action
Week 3
Planning
Week 3
Execution
Week 4
Action
Week 4
Planning
Week 4
Execution
Week 5
Action
Week 5
Planning
Week 5
Execution
Week 6
Action
Week 6
Planning
Week 6
Execution

You really can do this.


Two Final Suggestions
Priorities are Critical
You will always have more goals than time, so make sure you prioritize well.
• Focus on immediate impact
• Probably not the things you enjoy doing.
There’s no way to fit everything in. So prioritize. Some times good ideas get put on a shelf because its not the best thing for today. Its hard to keep track of incoming pay, but it will bring the best solutions

Two Final Suggestions
Don’t Overdo It
Our tendency is to try to accomplish too many goals.
Keep the goals simple. and if you can keep it under control you will avoid suffocating yourself.

The Law of Diminishing Returns
Number of Goals
In addition to the Whirlwind

Number of Goals
Achieved with Excellence

Franklin Covey
2-3 4-10 11-20
2-3 1-2 0
How many plates of food can you eat in a day? 2-3 can be doable. 4-10 you’ll get about half done. 11-20 goals will bring you zero completed goals.

Two Final
Suggestions
Don’t Overdo It
Our tendency is to try to accomplish too many goals.
One or two action items a week.Plan for 2-4 hours.
THere will always be up and down time. if you’re planning in advance, it can be helpful in downtime.

The whirlwind never goes away
When urgency and importance clash,urgency wins every time.
Develop a strategy to accomplish your goals in the whirlwind.
In 6 months, how would your business change if you put this into practice? if you moved up 2-3 items each week, what can you offer then which you don’t now? How much more could you accomplish?

In 6 months, how would your LIFE change if you did? With structures in place, how much better could your life be. Its just goal setting and setting aside the time to do it. Everyone in here can do what has been described, or something like this

Brian Moran’s 12-week year. Is not a problem with strategy, its measuring your execution as part of your strategy.

Will my clients notice if I take time for strategy? its 2-4 hours each week. If your clients notice that 2-4hr block stops you from being able to take calls, then you need to hire someone. One participant noted that they don’t take any client calls on Friday.

Is there a higher-order process of checklists that you work through with your clients? Yes. Proprietary though.

Trello is a checklist site. Nathan runs his life out of there. THere is a board of home projects, and he and his wife checks through those.

Nathan is the creator of >ADVANCE Coaching. He works with WordPress web developers individually and in groups to help them become more successful in their freelance businesses.

He is also the Host at iThemes Training where he teaches WordPress and freelance business development topics via live webinar.

Nathan has been a freelance web developer since 1995, and is based in Birmingham, Alabama where he is the co-lead organizer of the Birmingham WordPress Meetup and WordCamp Birmingham.

You can learn more about Nathan at https://nathaningram.com.

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