What I’m working on (and potentially hiring)

I have a few pieces in the hopper that I welcome help with (and I have the need for some contractors; see last paragraph). First up, I often repeat my glib productivity advice that you want to match your most important task to your most productive time. But what is that most important task? While “prep for meeting with CEO” is probably a bigger priority than editing a memo about office fridge policies, a lot of stuff is more ambiguous. So how should you figure it out? Or if you work with new hires/entry-level folks, how do you teach them how to prioritize? I welcome guidelines and suggestions (can post or email me: lvanderkam at yahoo dot com).

Second, I’m working on a piece on getting the right mix of clients. Free agents want multiple streams of revenue. But there’s also a limit to how many clients you can keep happy at once without going insane. Big anchor clients are great because you don’t have to spend too much time hustling. On the other hand, when you fail to develop new clients, you risk your big anchor client cutting the budget and leaving you in as bad a place as if you were an employee somewhere and lost your job.

So what’s the right mix? I have a general sense of how this works in a writing context (and I have good sources there) but what about other fields: design, marketing, etc?

Finally, after a lot of going back and forth and consideration and work with professional editors, I’ve decided to try releasing my novel (The Cortlandt Boys, for long time readers) as an ebook. I want to see if I can make the independent publishing process work. To that end, I am going to need 1) a cover designer, 2) a copy-editor and 3) someone who can format in proper ebook form for various markets. I welcome suggestions on these. As an alternative, I’d welcome suggestions on someone who project-manages the entire ebook publishing process, as that could be a wise approach too. As above, please email me at lvanderkam at yahoo dot com. Thank you!

12 thoughts on “What I’m working on (and potentially hiring)

  1. In education- and I’m sure this has some tie-in to business as well- you also have to consider the most productive time for your students. You often don’t have much control over your schedule and personal productive hours, but you need to block time within each class period to capitalize on students’ attention spans. I assume the productivity of others is also something you need to consider when you’re, say, on a conference call with another time zone.

  2. I just published my book on Amazon. I don’t blame you one bit for outsourcing these items.
    I had good luck with 99 designs. I was able to get feedback from my Twitter & Facebook friends. I had 3 really good covers that would have been great. Loved 168 hours.


  3. I had to really think about the question about teaching prioritization, so this comment is a bit late. But, what I’ve done is make it “risk-free” for my employees to come to me to help prioritize competing tasks, and then talked through the logic that made me set the priority as I did. The other thing I did that I suspect helped a bit for people who were reticent to come to me is have a weekly group meeting in which we walked through the projects on our project board. The person who “owned” each project would give an update, and then we’d all discuss next steps and priorities as a team

    1. @Melanie – I think it is a tough thing for many people to figure out, especially when priorities shift, new things come up, and so forth. But you’re right that people should always feel they can ask. This is not an imposition on your boss — this is the core of management.

  4. I’m excited that you’re publishing The Cortlandt Boys. I will be excited to read it again and see the metamorphosis! 🙂

  5. I struggled with prioritization but think I’ve finally nailed it, for me at least. I homeschool and work from home and I’ve gone back and forth between doing school first and doing work first. I’ve finally settled on doing homeschool first because it involves motivating both myself and my students. Once school is done, I only have to worry about motivating myself, which is much easier. It’s really hard to motivate others when your get-up-and-go for the day is all spent.
    That said, if I worked in an office, I’d schedule meetings in the afternoon and do my own projects in the morning. I’m a morning person and meetings are much easier to coast through than getting a project completed.

  6. I should add, I leave small specific tasks for the end of the day. They’re quick, easy hits that give a quick boost with a sense of accomplishment and can give me the umph I need to get through the evening. So answering certain emails (or sending announcements), balancing the checkbook, sewing patches on scout uniforms all gets piled at the end of the day.

    1. @Tana – interesting approach. Definitely, small wins can be motivational. I often do work at night, but I’ve been trying to make a list of small tasks to do so I know I’m making progress and not trying to do *everything*

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