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Pomodoro Productivity

“Collecting productivity porn on Pinterest is not productive”.

This paraphrased quote comes from none other than the productivity master, Graham Allcott, author of How to Be a Productivity Ninja. It made me laugh out loud as  I considered my many secret Pinterest boards full of awesome ways to get stuff done. This is definitely a book to read if you want to debunk productivity myths. It was this book that made me go from productivity porn collector to pomodoro productivity master by showing me that more action on my part was needed if I was going to get things done.

What is Pomodoro Productivity

Pomodoro productivity is the use of the Pomodoro Method to wade through your to-do list, to get things done, it helps you enjoy some productivity and I would be lost without it.

The idea behind the Pomodoro method is to work for 25 minutes solidly on a chosen task.

  • After 25 mins you take a 5 minute break.
  • After your 5 minute break, you get back to it for 25 minutes.
  • Take another short break.
  • After 4 consecutive pomodoro sessions take a longer break.

Why Pomodoro Productivity Works

By choosing one task to work on I am giving it my full attention. For 25 minutes nothing else matters other than that task. I only have 25 minutes so I don’t want to jump on emails, check Facebook or Twitter, or twiddle my thumbs. The pomodoro timer has become my favourite accountability partner.

Why Pomodoro Breaks are Important

Staying on track, especially when you’re working on something boring not as exciting as other tasks requires effort. Forging on and maintaining focus seems easier when you have a treat at the end. That five-minute break is the goal. That five-minute break is the high five at the end of a focused work session.

Use your five minutes as you will. I get up, move, hydrate, wee if necessary, cast an eye over Facebook and my emails, stretch then restart. You’d be surprised how quickly you can move when you only have five minutes. This break is not only a reward, it is a way for you to enjoy a mental break before refocusing your efforts on the task at hand or the next piece on your to-do list.

KanbanFlow

How you use the pomodoro productivity method is up to you. Set a timer on your phone. Get an egg timer. Use a PC/laptop timer. I use the in-built Pomodoro timer found within KanbanFlow, a fabulous (free) task management tool that keeps me on track and also features Pomodoro reporting so you may keep track on how much you’ve managed to get done.

Here’s a KanbanFlow board as an example:

kanbanflow

I use the free version of this tool and have for years. It is well worth looking up, whether you use the pomodoro technique or not.

In Summary

I am yet to meet someone who is productive 100% of the time when working. We aren’t built that way and that’s fine. If however, you want to crank up your productivity during work times consider the pomodoro technique and give KanbanFlow a try.

I am that person who starts the week or month off with great intentions and a well laid out to-do list and finishes on Friday in a frazzled heap as I had to do 90% of the work in two days thanks to my well-honed procrastination skills. I’ll always be a procrastination master, I accept that and don’t have a problem with it. Apparently many creatives are procrastinators. What I did need to do is find a way to be aware of my procrastination and find ways to still get work done and enjoy doing it. Pomodoro productivity has helped me achieve this, and I’m grateful.

 

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Invoice Needs Paying? Stick To Your Guns

 

One of the things that many freelancers say irritates them most of all is that time of the month when an invoice needs paying and suddenly the client goes quiet or tries to employ fancy footwork to reduce their bill.

This week a one-time client got in touch with me after I’d sent him an invoice to say something along the lines of:
My client says he saw you’d done similar work elsewhere for cheaper. So please reissue the invoice at this amount“.

Oh, how I laughed.

We had a contract, terms were agreed in advance and the work had been signed off on. He was clearly pulling a fast one. Asides from the fact that I don’t advertise my rates as I employ bespoke pricing, we had an agreement.

I very politely told him that actually, he’d received a slight discount on my usual rates, however, as I’d done similar work elsewhere for full price I’d be happy to reissue the invoice in line with that. Either way, the invoice was due.
He paid the invoice paid in full with no more fuss.

People Will Try and Avoid Paying Your Invoice

This doesn’t happen very often but it does happen. People will try it on. People will claim poverty as soon as your invoice due date arrives. Some simply seem to disappear into the mist; a magical place where WIFI doesn’t work and no emails get through. It happens. That doesn’t mean that anyone should bow to such tactics.

Communicate (Nicely)

Business is all about relationships. Maintaining good relationships with vendors, with clients and so on makes good sense and will help you achieve more, and faster. It is also a more pleasant way to do business. In the first instance, particularly if your client is someone who is a long-time client, try communicating with them (nicely) as a first port of call. This might sound silly but you’d be surprised how many people go from an invoice being late to full-on “RAARR, I WILL EAT YOUR CHILDREN’S SOULS IF YOU DON’T PAY ME” mode incredibly quickly.

Protect Yourself From Invoice Dodgers

Ir’s all in the terms and conditions. Make sure that you have a solid contract in place before commencing work. Include fees for late invoice payment. Include timescales for deliverables and for payments. Strongly consider taking a deposit in advance, particularly for larger projects. In short, make sure that you do everything you can in advance to reduce the risk of being left high and dry or your cash flow being messed up by yet another late payment.

Go With Your Gut

Doing some research before working with a new client is never a bad thing. It may bring up instances of poor invoice habits from the past and more. Sometimes the most effective due diligence tool is your gut. If it smells like fish and if it looks like fish, the chances are you have a fish (and something fishy going on).

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Landing a big client as a freelancer is great. The only problem with is when said client takes up 75% of your time and is responsible for paying invoices that amount to 75% of your income in any given month. If that fabulous client stops being fabulous or wants to end your contract for any reason you may find yourself with a big chunk of money owed to you. You’ll also find yourself in a position of having to find one or more new clients or projects to quickly fill that gap. I’ve made this mistake and the fallout wasn’t pretty. I all worked out ok in the end, with an eventual back payment of monies owed, and I picked up new and wonderful clients. It was hairy for a couple of months there though.

To Wrap it Up

As freelancers, we work damn hard. We juggle deadlines like a pro and produce some incredibly valuable work. We need to be paid for that work and paid on time. Make sure you protect yourself, as much as possible, from late or missed payments and if you do end up having trouble, pull out your contract and slap them with it. Don’t write off unpaid invoices. You worked for it, therefore, you should be paid as agreed, even if that means taking legal action.

On the upside, the majority of clients are good eggs. Just make sure you have a little put aside to ease the pain if for whatever reason you do fall foul of any of these cashflow-destroying eventualities.

invoice, freelance, payments

 

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The Thirsk Coworking Group

Back in early autumn 2017 I set up a regular monthly coworking group here in Thirsk, using the UK Jelly model for inspiration. My idea was to create a space and an opportunity for freelancers, small business owners, home workers and anyone else self-employed to get together to work in a friendly and collaborative way. Following the success of the Jelly sessions, I have rebranded as the Thirsk Coworking Group and look forward to continuing to see familiar faces and new ones.

The Thirsk Coworking Group

The Thirsk Coworking Group is a FREE monthly event open to all who have work to get on with and are looking for some accountability, who want to get their head down and get on, and who perhaps are a little tired of seeing the same office walls day in and day out. Working for yourself may be isolating and that is something I have been keen to address.

Working alongside like-minded individuals in a friendly and supportive environment is something that many regulars have come to look forward to and I certainly have benefitted from.

Sessions run from 10am – 2pm giving everyone plenty of time to tick items off their to-do list.

Thirskcoworking group, coworking, nicki cawood

What the Thirsk Coworking Group is Not

  • The Thirsk Coworking Group is NOT a networking group. This is not somewhere you may bring marketing materials, pitch to others and advertise your business. There are a number of wonderful networking groups in the area, however, this isn’t one of them.
  • The Thirsk Coworking Group is not a membership group and you don’t need to pay anything. This is a free and informal get together that has proven very popular. Some people come every time, some people come less frequently.

Where and When

I am very grateful to the Thirsk Community Library for allowing me to host these sessions upstairs in the library, taking advantage of the free WIFI, the great atmosphere and more. Downstairs you will find an excellent cafe and toilets. There is a lift as well as stairs enabling access to the upstairs floor of the library.

This is a monthly event and dates are posted in advance on social media and on Eventbrite.

Booking a Place

This is a free event however in order to manage numbers attendees are asked to pick up a free ticket via EventBrite prior to the session. That way I can make sure that we have enough tables and chairs, and that we don’t completely over-run the library with laptop clutching freelancers and so on, making it difficult for other library users to get a look in.

Any Questions?

Nicki Cawood, CopywriterThe benefits of coworking can’t be denied which is why the Thirsk Coworking Group has proven to be so popular.  Feel free to email me at contact@nickicawood.co.uk if you have any questions about coworking in general or the Thirsk Coworking Group.

Thank you to Gemma Symmonds, a talented local freelance designer (and TCG fan) for the new logo.

 

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