Self employed people, who do you create waypoints for your business?
September 9, 2017 6:53 AM   Subscribe

Yes, I set goals. I track and review these goals on a weekly basis for progress. But how do I set more waypoints for my business? At the moment I use my summer holiday in June a and conferences throughout the year as “markers” or waypoints in my calendar. These really help in the setting of goals and giving some structure to my time.

So, for example, I would have Goal X will be achieved before conference Y in London etc. I find it a really powerful way of achieving goals. But I would love to know how do other self-employed people structure their time. How do you prevent the weeks and months just cascading into one another when self-employed when the only overseer of goals is you?
posted by jacobean to Work & Money (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I used to work with a lot of small business owners, and they were always asking for monthly and quarterly reports. They're artificial, but the benefit is that they're consistent. You don't have to look for things happening three weeks from now. You just know that it will be the end of the month.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:53 AM on September 9, 2017

The other advantage is that, since the intervals are consistent, it's easy to compare one to another, or to compare year over year. This depends on your goals, obviously - if they're project-based, it's hard to compare.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:58 AM on September 9, 2017

I've wrestled with this beast since I started freelancing in 2012. (Eh, probably before that. I have mad ADHD.) After MUCH trial and error + a few sessions with a career coach who isn't a charlatan, here's what works for me:

I break down my quarters, months, and weeks. I start with 2 or 3 "tracks," or areas of focus- say, business and comedy writing. Then I pick up to 3 goals for each track that I want to conquer that quarter. "Make x income, write x number of things," whatever. From there I list everything I need to do to make it happen and assign those mini-goals and tasks to different months.

On Sun evenings, I break down my weekly goals and assigns times to work on them. *I never assign more than 2 to-dos per day.*

I definitely have to make adjustments along the way, and I'm still learning how long things take. (Hint: longer.) But this method works because it forces me to break goals down into manageable parts, work on them, and measure my progress.

(YMMV, but the only way I can stay on track is with accountability and support from other humans. I started a small group that meets every Sunday to set goals together and drink wine.)
posted by jessca84 at 11:07 AM on September 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for your interesting answers kevin and jessca. The group sounds like a good idea.

It is weird. There are thousands of books on entrepreneurship, personal management etc. but few focus on this "dilemma" of working WITHOUT a deadline. While this may seem trivial, it is only when you're working for yourself you realise the importance of deadlines or waypoints.
posted by jacobean at 12:34 PM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Absolutely. I feel like if you can master your own deadlines, you're light years ahead of most people. It's a worthy struggle.
posted by jessca84 at 12:45 PM on September 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

I use Beeminder a fair amount to automatically break down "want to have [big number] achieved by [date]" into "ok, that means that today you have to have [much smaller number] done".

I also use in-person and phone meetings with clients as promises/waypoints for "have x achieved by y time/date".
posted by brainwane at 10:56 AM on September 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

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