Systems are useless w/o follow through!

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This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  TreasuredGuest 3 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #1825

    Tea Silvestre

    I have a project plan and/or grant schedule for each client. This is based upon the scope of services for which they have hired me, which varies from client to client. This can make it challenging to systemize things!

    Each Sunday, I sit down & plan out the week ahead. I look @ each client on my roster, their particular project list or grant schedule, then put together a “to do” list for the week ahead. After I write down what I need to do for each one of my clients, I write down the specific tasks I need to accomplish for my biz (e.g., blog, submitting TedX application, etc.), plus any phone calls or meetings I have that week.

    The phone calls & mtgs are also in my calendar book, which is written in pencil (I have both monthly & weekly calendar pages, which I update on Wed & Sat of each week).

    Each day, I strive to work from 9:00 am – 2:00pm. This isn’t always possible — sometimes, clients are only available in the afternoon, or need me to come on site for an evening board meeting. But generally, I try to get my client work done in the morning, when my energy is highest. However, if I get sucked into email or onto FB 1st thing, rut-roh! (This happens more frequently than I would like to admit, esp when I am encountering an Upper Limit Problem!)

    I am going to try an experiment — I’m going to spend from 8:30 – 9:00 on email, give it another 30 minutes from 12:00 – 12:30, then again from 4:30 – 5:00, to see if this cuts down on the distraction level.

    In the afternoon, I try to put in 2 hours of CEO time. The problem is, my low-energy time of the day is usually between 3:00 – 5:00pm, so it’s either not all that productive or I take a break & come back to it later. This means that sometimes, I am doing work after dinner. And/or on the weekends. This does not allow me enough time for R&R or to wind down before I go to bed. Not good!

    Maybe I need to alternate — maybe I need to work ON the biz 2 mornings & 3 afternoons/week and IN the biz 3 mornings & 2 afternoons/week. I also could try to relocate myself to a coffee house when it’s time to switch gears, which might help me recover from those afternoon dips more quickly, not only because they have coffee, but both of my fav hang-outs have central air! (my house does not have A/C & I turn into a total slug when it’s hot ‘n humid!)

    I also feel like I need to start taking Friday afternoons OFF, bcs all work and no play is starting to make Sarah super cranky! No one’s tombstone ever read: “I’m glad I worked so hard!”

    Clearly, my schedule is in need of some tinkering! Bottom line: I need to find a new rhythm that works!

    The challenge is, I’m about to start PT twice/week for the next 6 weeks. If I need surgery (let’s hope not!), I may have to go thru more PT (or, I may need more PT even if I don’t need surgery). This is going to throw a monkey wrench in my schedule. All I can do is the best I can do…

    I think things will be a little easier once I finish my 12-month marketing plan — then, I will have specific tasks and timelines, which will keep me moving in a singular direction (right now, I’m kinda wingin’ it). It will also allow me to give specific directions &; deadlines to my 2 part-time helpers. I am also going to try to identify additional tasks they can take on, to lighten my load!

    Once I have my marketing plan set up, I might give Asana a try as a means of tracking the work my 2 helpers are supposed to be doing. I tend to be a paper/pen girl, but dumping everything in Asana will allow all of us to keep track of things w/o all the email traffic.

    As far as systems go, I have decided that I want to start using FollowUp to track & follow up with people who have expressed interest in one of my six-week courses but have not yet signed up. My 1st six-week course is due to launch in mid/late Sept. I have already snagged (but not yet activated) a deal on a year-long subscription to FollowUp.

    Other systems we use:
    1) Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn
    2) DropBox — I use it with one of my long-term clients & my 2 helpers
    3) Affiliates — we have an ongoing relationship w/a state-wide trade association, who sends out our emails to their 7,000 members for us (huzzah!). In exchange, we give them 25% of the registration fee for each person who identifies that they heard about the workshop through this particular association. We are trying to work out a similar relationship with Boston U School of Social Work Professional Education Programs, with the hopes that they’ll provide CEUs, too. I might also explore the possibility of a similar relationship with a 2nd state-wide trade association.

    That’s all I can think of right now. One thing I’m curious to know is, what systems do people use to track time & send invoices? Right now, I track time for each client in an Excel spreadsheet & then transfer the info to a Word doc invoice on the 15th & last day of the month. It’s clunky, but it works. Given that I usually have 4-6 clients, it’s not a big deal that it’s clunky, but if there’s a smoother, easier way to do it, I’m all ears! 🙂

  • #1828

    Tea Silvestre


    To answer your last question, personally I use Xero for both accounting and invoicing. But I also bill by the job/project vs by my time.

    Most freelancers I know who bill by the min/hour use and swear by Harvest ( or Freshbooks ( for invoicing.

    Both are extraordinary well designed invoicing solutions.

    When I get into a productivity rut or notice I’m getting bogged down in emails/social media (for me, it’s usually because I’m tired), then I like to use an app called 30/30.

    You create a loop of tasks – say 20 mins on email, 15 on social, 10 min stretch break, and hour on project x, repeat. If you finish a tasks early, you can of course move to the next one early. But otherwise, it’ll ding when your time is up.

    It game-ifys tasks and since I know I ONLY have 20 mins for email, then I tend to be more direct and to the point and NOT get distracted.

    I don’t use it daily.

    But it’s my go to when I’m having a “slow” brain day and need someone to snap the whip. 😛

    Looks like you pondered a lot about your productivity this week and how to better systemize you. Nice job, Sarah. -lmb

  • #1830


    I like your idea of affiliate marketing your workshops with another organization. Can you send me a link to that workshop just so I can see how this is working for you? I know we are in completely different fields, but who is the organization with the list? Sounds like a great deal to me!


  • #1831

    Tea Silvestre

    Holly: The Association with whom we were working has been going through a lot of changes in the past year — new Executive Director, a move to a new location, the departure of the staff person with whom we struck that deal — so we haven’t been doing much with them lately. However, I recently spoke to his replacement & he is VERY interested in renewing our agreement. As soon as we’re ready to start marketing our next webinar, we’re going to contact him.

    The way we set it up last time was that on the reg form, we asked people how they’d heard about it & provided the Association as an option. There was one instance where a registrant was from CT & was not already on our database, so we gave them the credit. We tried to do something similar with Boston U School of Social Work Prof Ed Programs, but they only promoted the workshop twice & didn’t give us a reg link ’til 2 weeks before the workshop, so we only had 3 people sign up. If we were to do it again w/BUSSW-PEP, I’d insist that WE handle the registration!

    I’m sure there are photography clubs, associations, etc. that would be willing to promote your stuff for you in exchange for a portion of the proceeds. When I 1st started working with the Association, they only asked for 10%. This time around I’ve offered 25%.

    I hope that helps! 🙂

  • #1832

    Tea Silvestre

    Thank you, Lisa Burger, for all that helpful info! I will def check out those resources!

    You’re a gem! 🙂

  • #1833


    Thanks for the feedback Sarah.

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