© Gaye Wilson 2008
One of the most useful strategies I’ve used for this particular project, and one that I will use again, is keeping track.

Keeping track of what, you ask?

Keeping track of whatever will help you (a) reach the goal and (b) reach your next goal.

For this current project I have been keeping track of:

  • the hours spent on the project: it is essential to know this, so that I can charge the client for my time.
  • the number of pages I have edited per hour: I seem to be averaging five.
  • the number of pages I have proofread per hour: this one is not as simple to quantify, because I was not doing my usual thorough proofreading because the time was running out. I definitely need to note how many pages I proofread on my next job.
  • the amount of time I spent formatting the document. This particular one had issues that I hope I don’t get again. Unfortunately, I didn’t note specifically which bits were formatting and which bits were editing. I’ll need to do that next time.
  • extraneous items that need to be included in the invoice at the end of the job, such as the cost of phone calls, postage etc.

For larger projects, or multi-faceted projects or projects that need a lot of resources or take a long time, you would need to keep track of some other items:

  • who’s doing what
  • when each phase needs to be completed and how on track you are
  • problems/delays
  • what’s been done
  • costs

 This is only a very short list of what can be tracked on a job.

I keep track of my projects using an Excel spreadsheet I developed some years ago. I plug in the date, the time I start work, the time I finish work, and a short description of the work. I can also track what has been sent off and when, and interim payments, and I can see at a glance what my productivity is like by using graphs.

Someone else who uses spreadsheets to keep track of business stuff is Gayla, of Mom’s Gadget. Have a look at her blog entry on how she uses spreadsheets.

What else do you keep track of, and what tools do you use?

 

© Gaye Wilson 2008
What happens if you are working to a deadline, but there is no way you can meet it?

You have a couple of options:

  • contact the person who set the deadline and see if you can renegotiate it
  • enlist help

Maybe you can combine the two options.

Other ways you can enlist help are:

  • Brainstorm with a friend or your mastermind group how you can meet the deadline
  • Ask a process-oriented friend for ideas on how you can streamline what you are doing
  • Tell the people you work with that you need to stop talking or attending meetings until the project is done
  • Ask your family to do some of your chores, to give you more time to work on the project

The All Paths to Victory Strategy states that you do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. If that means you ask for additional help, then go for it!

 

© Gaye Wilson 2008
When you are working hard on a job, especially one as physically and mentally challenging as editing or proofreading (amongst others), it really helps to take regular, refreshing breaks. I have found on this particular editing job that I stopped seeing errors after about an hour of intense concentration. Getting up, taking a walk, drinking a glass of water and maybe playing with the dog all helped when I got back to work. I would pick up the job, re-read the last paragraph I was working on, and immediately see the problem that had been eluding me.

This tip is applicable to almost everything you do. If you are a workaholic who doesn’t take breaks, your health will suffer. If you don’t take annual holidays, your health and relationships will suffer. If you have multiple tasks to do, changing to another one when you are weary of the first one is a good way to refresh yourself, and when you come back to the original one, you’ll be able to cope with it a bit better.

 

© Gaye Wilson 2008
It is indeed the silly season. Or the giving season. Or maybe both.

For those of you who don’t know, one of the biggest methods of getting traffic on the internet, expanding your list, getting your name known and earning money is to participate in giveaways. Basically, these are events (often linked to holidays) that combine a varying number and quality of products together on the one site that offers terrific “gifts” for download for free. Typically, you have to sign up for every gift, that is, plug in your name and email address in a sign up form, which usually gets you signed up also to the vendor’s email list. Most of the vendors don’t bother to say that up front, so when you get the confirmation email you find that you’ve not only received the download link, but also a (usually unwanted) email subscription as well. That’s okay, you can always get the free download and then unsubscribe to the list if it doesn’t look like it will be useful.

What does this have to do with All Paths To Victory, you ask?

Everything.

These giveaways offer all sorts of goodies, ranging from internet marketing primers to software to ebooks to courses. Some of them are junk, some of them are rehashed stuff under a different name. Some of them, however, are pure gold.

In the spirit of making sure you take all paths to your victory, these giveaways are worth a look. You might just find that software you’ve been looking for, or the piece of information you need.

Here are some current ones (they don’t last forever):

Happy Holidays Giveaway – this one is due to close soon

Massive Monthly Giveaway for January 2008 – this is a seriously huge and outstanding giveaway, but it’s available for this week only. Not to be missed!

New Year’s Giveaway finishes at the end of January

Some giveaways are better than others. Your mileage may vary. All the usual disclaimers. But it might be worth taking this path if it will help you achieve your victory.

Oh, the other important item to know about giveaways is that you usually land on a One Time Offer page after you have signed up for your gift. This is the payoff for a vendor to participate in a giveaway. They need to make you aware of other products they offer in order to make it worth their time to participate. If you want to investigate or invest in the One Time Offer, that’s great – presumably both parties benefit. If you don’t, the vendor has still managed to be known and you’ve still received a product.

 

© Gaye Wilson 2008
After reading a post about tracking jobs on David Seah’s productivity blog, I thought about how I schedule the actions I need to take. I’ve been thinking about the best ways to do things for some time, hence this blog, and am experimenting with different strategies.

The one I’ve come up with this week is the Corkboard Scheduler.

I had a corkboard sitting idle that I’d bought for something else. I had a bunch of square paper (9x9cm or 3.5×3.5 inches). I had pins. I had index cards. I put them all together, and came up with this:

Corkboard Scheduler

Across the top are six index cards. Each one has a label. The first one is a different colour than the rest, and it represents the jobs I want to work on This Week. The remaining index cards are categories of actions in my life. I was limited to only five categories by the size of the corkboard.

The idea was this: use one piece of paper (I’m going to call them note squares – they are about the size of a Post It note) per action. Write the name of the job/action on a note square. Pin the note square under the appropriate index card category. When I plan to work on the action on a particular note square, I unpin it from the category column, and pin it in the This Week column.

This looked good.

I found that in some cases I also wrote the date the action was due at the bottom of the note square. This gave me a deadline, and allowed me to see at a glance which actions needed to be put in the This Week column. I could also write the date the note square was written, so that I can track how long it’s been on the Scheduler. If it has been on the board for months, maybe the action does not need to be taken.

The advantage of this Corkboard Scheduler for the visual thinker is the ability to see at a glance what needs to be done, and in some cases, when. The note squares under each category tell me what projects are on my plate, the ones in the This Week column give me a visual nudge that I need to work those tasks into my time for this week.

The size of the corkboard I’m using limits the number of categories I can use, and the number of actions I can pin under each category. I can only use five categories and five actions in each category. This is fine, because that means that only the most important actions appear on the board. If I have too many, I won’t be able to focus on achieving each individual victory.

If, however, I find that I have more items that need to be recorded on the Corkboard Scheduler, I can use the other side for future projects.

I’m sure this is not a new idea, but I haven’t used it before, and I’m playing around with it to see how useful it is for me.

How have you used something like this?

 

© Gaye Wilson 2008
Yesterday I posted an entry to this blog. A few hours later, I wanted to post another one, but the site was down.

It was still down this morning. This is most disconcerting! My webhost was very quick in replying (http://www.westhost.com), and viola the site is up again today.

One of the things that got me worried about this situation was that I didn’t have all my posts backed up. I guess I’ll just have to learn how to use the WordPress Database Backup plugin that is mentioned at http://www.emonetized.com/11/best-wordpress-plugins/, which is a list of 10 terrific WordPress plugins.

 

© Gaye Wilson 2008
Well, after the hassles with the computer and getting behind on the daily targets, I got sick. So sick that I couldn’t concentrate, and therefore could do no useful work on the project. I tried, believe me, I tried, but it didn’t work very well.

So I went to bed.

For two days.

Now I’m back again, and managed more than the quota for today. Tomorrow I should be able to finish the first pass of the job.

Strategy used: if something happens that stops or impedes progress, don’t beat yourself up about it. Deal with the situation as necessary, and then bounce back when you can. Feeling guilty that you’re behind won’t help.