Freelance hell and how to stand up and beat it.
A little trick that I have got myself involved in is working wonders for my motivation, which in turn has led to actually doing more stuff, which at this stage of the game is really all I am interested in.
It is really simple and deeply connected to that ancient practice of productivity – shutting up and getting on with it.
So here it is (drum roll) every weekday Emily and I have a ‘daily stand up’ which is actually a Google Hangout because she lives in Columbus and I live in London.
What is a stand up?
It is a very short, me say that again – VERY short – fifteen-minute meeting where you share three things.
1. What you got done
2. What you are going to do
3. If there is anything in your way
No weather chat, no what I had for breakfast, no imagine we painted the ceiling of @Work Hubs with pink elephants and lemonade.
Of course this is a good idea and I have worked on teams that do this or something like it many times, however, because mainly I ‘work on my own’ in a coworking space, unless the people I am working with do a daily stand up, or call, it just does not get put into my workflow.
What I have particularly noticed is how much time I have saved in ‘thinking about things’.
I am at the edge of my knowledge right and learning new skills at a deeper level which means I spend less time on auto pilot (think of it as going from washing my own hair to cutting it).
It is very easy to spend hours moving my cards around Trello, in the hope this will turn into productivity, by building my day around a fifteen minute stand up, I am able to ‘park my thinking’ until the stand-up call and then work it out there.
It really does feel like I put any questions in a drawer and forget about them, until I speak to Emily, and usually I have worked it out by stopping thinking about it anyway.
Another element we are going to start working on is time tracking – for our own sanity.
For years now I have used a Pomodoro timer on my web browser, and an app called Rescue Time, last year I started to use Pomello that plugs into Trello and tracks time, when you know how long each task takes life changes for the better dramatically.
Of course, we love getting more done in less time, the real incentive is to be able to spend more time with our family and less time with our computers – nice as they are.
Trello boards and Google Hangouts work on mobile phones and laptops with a connection, so neither of us has to hire a meeting room to have the Stand Up call so it is not really a big thing.
The big thing is being prepared to ask for help, and admit you are stuck, and it is much easier to admit you are stuck 10% of the way into something than 90% of the way into something. Where you get stuck is usually a little stick anyway, and easy to get back on track, and often quicker than Googling it!
Are you part of a remote team? Or thinking of being one?
Every week Pilar Orti explores how to keep connected and productive on the 21st Century Work Life – remote working, virtual teams and the future of work. which covers freelancers and also corporate teams that work at home and in coworking spaces.
Finding simple ways of keeping connected and productive is essential to enjoying the remote / freelance / independent way of working.