Over the last couple of days I haven't been nearly as enthusiastic about my work as I normally am. I've been procrastinating about doing actual paid work, wasting a bit too much time on Twitter and LOST, and generally being about half as productive as I normally am. I got up from my desk a few moments ago to go and make a coffee, and it hit me, I'd lost track of the big picture.
What is The Big Picture?
The big picture is very simple, it's the place you want to be. The big picture isn't the place you are now, or the work you're doing now, it's the end goal that you're working towards. So for me, the big picture is having a really nice set of offices and 3-5 staff in 12 months time. For you, it might be sunbathing on a beach in Hawaii knowing that your blog is bringing in enough money to support you, and you've written the next month's worth of posts in advance.
How Did I Lose Track of Said Picture?
Well, for the last week or so, I've been buried in client work. I've been coding, designing, researching, writing, and implementing changes, as well as all the day to day business stuff. I've had my head so far into the little jobs that I've been failing to take a step back to look at.... well, you get the idea.
This may not sound like a particularly big deal, but it really is. Why? Because if you work full time, or you used to, you'll know that it's this frame of mind that you were in every single day. Right?
And the whole reason that you've switched (or want to switch) to freelancing, is to get away from that. So what happens when you get caught up thinking and doing nothing other than individual bits of work? I'll tell you what - you just got yourself stuck in full time employment again.
What To Do About It
I mentioned in my post about my goals for this month that I'm looking to take on a "virtual assistant" - and I got loads of people asking me what on earth I meant by that. Well, if you haven't already, I'd recommend that you pick up a copy of The 4 Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferriss (Amazon links: UK, US) - which is what sparked the idea.
Essentially, I'm looking to outsource a lot of my workload to an external agency to give me more time for 'the big picture'. For the most part this will be work like extensive research for blog posts, clerical/admin work, PSD/xHtml work, initial design concepts... etc. All the things that take me a lot of time to complete, but aren't really specialist work. I'll be taking on a full time employee, which is to say 8 hours a day / 5 days a week, to do all these things, and anything else that needs to be done.
With that going along nicely in the background, I'll be able to do more important things like handle my big SEO clients who pay top-dollar for my consultancy time, and work on establishing the Lyrical Media newsletter which I've been taking such a long time over launching.
Of course this will be different for everyone, perhaps you're quite happy being a single freelancer and you just want to do what you love and get paid for it. That's absolutely fine. But if like me, you want to grow a business, expand quickly, and be profitable - then you don't have time to get too wound up in the little jobs that milk away all of your time.
Here's what I'm going to do with the rest of my day: All client work is on hold, and I'm going to put some time into what I've been "looking at doing" for the past 3 weeks: Signing a contract with an outsourcing agency and getting things moving. I'm going to dedicate the rest of the day to it, and hopefully by the end of the week I might have something already in place.
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!