Your time is your life.
No one knows how long our clock will tick, so make good use of your time every day. Decide what is important to you and use the ABC technique to make it happen.
My number one goal is to is to develop a passive, recurring income. I call it working my Money Line. This is my “A” Goal. “A” is reserved for goals that create income. Developing and promoting client websites is an “A” goal if I am getting paid to do it. If not, it slips into a “B” category. “B” is reserved for community service projects and other pro bono work I believe is important. “C” is reserved for family projects and other unplanned projects that are imposed on me.
“A” is high value because it is my money line. “B” is medium value because these are volunteer projects I believe are important, and “C” is for projects I have to do but do not lead to accomplishing my goals. They are low value in terms of accomplishing my goals, but they may be urgent and can take priority over A and B goals.
The next step in the ABC time management technique is to break down the ABC categories further into A-1, A-2, A-3, B-1, B-2, B-3 priorities. This is when the ABC system becomes an effective tool in planning how you spend your time. Remember, priorities can change during the day and that will determine what you actually do. A plan that doesn’t change with circumstances is an obsolete plan. Your lists must be flexible.
Using ABC Priorities With Goal Setting
Working together works best.
To identify your lifetime goals, your 3-year goals, and your six-month goals, label the three most important goals in each category (high, medium, and urgent.) Urgent goals should be projects that cannot be completed in an hour. If you can get an urgent task done quickly, do it now and don’t bother listing it. If you have too many urgent tasks you have to learn to say NO! If an urgent task will take more than an hour list it. Then, prioritize the three most import urgent tasks you need to complete.
Now, pick out the most important 3 goals from your list. Define the objectives you need to accomplish to achieve your goal. Objectives must have a deadline and be defined in a way that clearly states what must be done to accomplish the objective. Now get out your calendar and block out the time when you will work on each objective. This is time for deep work with no interruptions except to take a break every half hour to get up and walk around.
You now have a Lifetime Goals Statement, and you know what you must do to make your life productive. The ABC system helps you define exactly what you must do at any point in your life to accomplish what you believe is important. Your time is targeted and not wasted.
In other words, the ABC time management technique gets you targeted on exactly what you want to do with your life at this particular time.
Your Lifetime Goals Statement changes with time. Review your lifetime goals and your 3-year plan at least annually. Your daily plan will change as circumstances change. Just don’t let your deep time work get swamped by urgent stuff like email. Break your objectives down into short tasks so you can check off your accomplishments. Nothing is more motivational than seeing things get done on your calendar.
Prioritize your goals. Prioritize the Objectives that will accomplish those goals. Identify the tasks that must be completed to achieve your objectives. Work on your highest priority tasks each day. Accomplishing a tough task does wonders for your self-esteem.
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Smart Creatives don’t starve. In fact, with routine jobs being automated it will be the creative people who thrive.
Today the internet provides Creatives a way to cut out the middle man and sell directly to their fans. In fact, crowd funding platform Patreon.com allows Creatives to interact directly with their fans and provides a way fans can support their favorite creatives.
What is your calling?
What life do you want?
The age old question of the human race is, “Why am I here?” What is calling you? What important things do you want to accomplish? Sometimes our calling comes to us in a flash of understanding. More often circumstances guide our lives. Only when we become seriously dissatisfied will we pause to take a look at our future. When we recognize our life is not going the way we want, understanding our calling will guide our future decisions. Our calling may change. I spent most of my life working as a forester. I will always work to leave a better world for my kids, but recently I have gotten more involved in community disaster preparedness. I soon recognized that it takes money to be prepared. That lead me to help people start internet businesses that can create the additional income they need.
Your re-evaluation can happen anytime in your life. It used to be called a mid-life crisis. Now it is called pivoting. When done right It can bring satisfaction and a sense of purpose to our lives. I think it is helpful to put our thoughts, experiences, and remembrances down on paper. Study your list for common threads running through your life. What do you like doing? What is just a chore? What accomplishment gave you the most satisfaction? At first your list may look chaotic, but usually, there will be a theme running through your life. Your evaluation can help you understand what you want to accomplish in life. That is your calling.
Creative people don’t do what they do to become famous or to make lots of money. They create because they must. The problem is a creative must earn a living. So here are a few suggestions.
Practice in public
The internet gives us a unique opportunity to share our creations with the world. Creating is about being the best we can be. You don’t become a writer until you start writing. You don’t become a photographer without taking pictures. And, you do not become a musician without playing your instrument. Practice your craft every day. That is my challenge to you. Practice your craft in public. That means you have to show your work to the world.
Traditionally, you would show your art at a gallery or hang it on a fence next to a busy sidewalk. Music might be promoted by cutting records and sending them to radio stations around the country. Books were published by publishers and movies were created by MGM, Disney, and RKO. Now we can use our computer to create our video and share it on YouTube, We can create pod casts and self-publish our books. The internet has opened a world of opportunity to Creatives.
You need a platform. A platform is simply a stage that allows you to connect with your audience. Tony Robbins may be the person whose platform first comes to mind. He has addressed audiences from stages all over the world. But he doesn’t stop there. He has a website, a social media following and even sells his work in Apple Store. You can learn a lot about your internet platform by studying his website. He even has an affiliate program that pays a 15% commission on sales from your website.
The simplest platform for you to set up is your website/blog, your social media and your email list of fans who have asked you to share your craft with them. Post your articles, your art work or your video to your website at least weekly. Many factors go into getting good search engine rankings and getting traffic to your site, but the most important by far is to keep your website fresh and interesting with helpful content. The key to a good blog is to be entertaining, relevant to your audience and helpful. Every page and post you write should end in a tripwire encouraging your reader to join your mailing list. For more information on using the internet as your platform click here.
Charge what you are worth
The biggest mistake a freelancer makes is not charging what you are worth. I recommend setting the price you want to receive. Be sure to recognize your need to pay yourself benefits. $150/hr is my standard fee. You won’t be able to fund your health insurance and retirement program if you charge much less. In prioritizing your time, do the things that will make you money first. Any pro-Bono work has to take a lower priority. I always ask what a potential client’s budget is. I set the absolute minimum I will work for. If it is a project I want to be involved in, I will negotiate down till I am within their budget. That will usually involve revising the scope of the project. If it is a non-profit I believe in, I prefer to contribute my work as a volunteer rather than cheapening my work by cutting my price. I can add to my portfolio, get a recommendation and do something worthwhile.
Build a portfolio of diverse income streams.
Successful creatives diversify their incomes. 30% of their income might come from sales of their book or movie. 30% from speaking tours and 40% from providing coaching in their area of expertise. Be generous. Give examples of your work away in return for getting their email in your opt-in list. Then sell your book. Then sell on line coaching. Then offer to work with a client in one-on-one coaching sessions. It is called a sales ladder, and it is a way to upsell your client while providing them valuable service. By starting with a giveaway and working up to progressively more expensive projects, your client learns to trust in your ability to help.
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