How to prioritise when everything is a priority.
In this episode, Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to an excellent question from wedding videographer Charlene McNabb.
“Hi Frankie and Steve! Happy New Year!
I’m sitting here with a notepad. Two actually. One has my ‘to-do’ list on it that I created before Christmas (check me out for being super organised). The other has what to prioritise over the next 6 weeks, but here’s where the overwhelm has come flooding in.
When you’re running your own business and need to do ALLLLL the things, how do you prioritise stuff when everything is a priority?
The list ranges from loads of paid client work (editing and stuff), to updating the website and portfolio (important, as it’s key wedding-planning season), to marketing and SWOT analysis, accounts and even stripping the bloody paint off the stairs.
I mean, I’m happy to push that last one back, it’s been on the back burner for 8 years now anyway, but still…
Do you think you can send some wisdom my way please?
• • • • •
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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.
Here’s what was said in this episode:
Comments on the previous episode:
[00:01:38] – Frankie
Hello! You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve. Hello.
[00:01:48] – Steve
Yes, each episode we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids community. Do our best to answer it, but we start each episode by looking back at the last one. Last YEAR, when we were talking about…
[00:01:58] – Frankie
We were talking about whether or not to apply for awards.
[00:02:01] – Steve
Oh, yes. Jessica Audsley got in touch.
“Awards yay or nay? Yay! In the agency I ran, which then got acquired by a larger agency…”
[00:02:12] – Steve
That was my added ‘oooh’ — just to point out. Jessica didn’t make that noise!
[00:02:17] – Steve
“Our case studies and awards were really key in getting that deal in place. As for clients, you can say you’re award winning once you’ve just won one award, so I would say it’s definitely worth it, as it definitely brings gravitas to your business. So, yes to case studies and awards.”
[00:02:34] – Frankie
Charles Commins says:
‘I look at awards as being a really cool validation of your work BUT at the same time, I don’t put any pressure on myself to win them. Sure, it’s disappointing when you don’t win and you’ve spent a small fortune in traveling to a big city, booking a hotel, a new suit, and hiring a friend to go with you for moral support… But those disappointments make the wins even sweeter.
It’s just like waiting for England to win the World Cup. It’ll be brilliant when it happens, but it’s so unlikely!”
[00:03:03] – Steve
[00:03:04] – Frankie
Keep the faith, Charles. Keep the faith!
[00:03:06] – Steve
“Yes, but not all awards are created equal. They can be great for brand awareness, networking, PR opportunities and sales, but there are some awful ones out there. My advice is to look at previous winners and what they’ve done with them and look at who the judging panel is. If it’s people with a good reputation, that’s usually a good sign. And if you get approached saying that you’ve been nominated for an award, you probably haven’t, and it’s a sales tactic they use, so avoid those ones.”
[00:03:36] – Frankie
And Ayo Abbas says:
“Appearing in Tootie Newsie, our local online news outlet…”
[00:03:41] – Steve
I’m sorry, what’s it called?
[00:03:50] – Frankie
Oh no, sorry, it’s called Tooting Newsie!
Tootie Newsy is a better name. It should be called Tootie Newsie.
[00:03:53] – Steve
Tootie Newsie was a burlesque performer I once met.
[00:03:57] – Frankie
I’m sure it is called that and I’ve spelled it wrong…
[00:04:00] – Steve
No, well, she’s from Tooting.
[00:04:01] – Frankie
Yeah, but it might be called Tootie Newsy and not Tooting Newsie? Hang on, I’m going to double check…
Oh, it’s Tooting Newsy. Damn it, so boring.
Right. And Ayo Abbas says:
“Appearing in Tooting Newsie, our local online news outlet, off the back of the press release I did about winning the Digital Women of the Year award now means that school Mums now know what I do. ‘Ooh, I thought I knew that face. Were you in Tooting Newsie?’ It’s like I’ve finally arrived, rather than just being the woman who drops off and rushes off to work.”
[00:04:33] – Steve
[00:04:34] – Frankie
I love that.
Our answer to this week's question:
[00:07:28] – Steve
Episode 91 we’ve got a question from Charlene McNabb, who is a wedding videographer at lovegetssweeter.co.uk.
“Hi, Frankie and Steve. Happy New Year.”
[00:07:39] – Frankie
Happy New Year!
[00:07:40] – Steve
“I’m sitting here with a notepad, two actually. One has my to do list on it that I created before Christmas. Check me out for being super organised. The other has what to prioritise over the next six weeks. But here’s where the overwhelm has come flooding in…
When you’re running your own business and need to do all the things, how do you prioritise stuff when everything is a priority? The list ranges from loads of paid client work (editing and stuff) to updating the website and portfolio (important as its key wedding planning season), to marketing and SWOT analysis, accounts, and even stripping the bloody paint off the stairs.
I mean, I’m happy to push that last one back. It’s been on the back burner for eight years now anyway. But still, do you think you can send some wisdom my way, please?
[00:08:35] – Frankie
I mean, do we have any words of wisdom? I don’t, because I feel exactly the same. I made a list last week — two lists, like she says. Two lists! Do I know what to do with them? No, I do not.
[00:08:46] – Steve
Well this is the trouble, right, is that sometimes people will say, well, “Here’s a system…” And I’ve made so many of these videos for learning and development companies and stuff, right?
People will tell you to put things into a grid and it will be like Urgent, Important, Urgent & Important. But nobody ever says, “What if everything is urgent and important?!”
I mean, look, the SWOT analysis is a nice idea, but that isn’t urgent and important. And we can bin off the paint on the stairs.
[00:09:18] – Frankie
Can we, though? It’s been eight years Steve, surely this year’s the year to do it?!
[00:09:20] – Steve
Yeah, she is blatantly doing procrastinate-decorating.
[00:09:24] – Frankie
Yeah, alright, fair enough.
[00:09:26] – Steve
Now, accounts… Well, now that depends whether you need them to be done very soon indeed. But let’s look at the other stuff.
One way people suggest is to take your to-do-list of important stuff and then grade it, I guess. Either using numbers or letters. So A would be the most important, E would be the least important. So doing that actually makes you really have to consider each task. Obviously, at the end of it, the idea is you go and work on the A’s and then the B’s and so on and so forth. In fact, if you were doing it in a business where you had lots of people, some of the stuff like D’s and E’s you’d probably delegate to other people.
Maybe we’ll come back to delegating.
But I think looking at my own list — sometimes based on the limited amount of time you have as a parent as well as running your business — is to think how much time is each item? Like, if they’re all important, if they’re all a priority of some sort, then how much time is each one going to take?
[00:10:31] – Frankie
Yeah, I like that approach because we actually had a thread in the community yesterday, I think from Richard Berks going, “My time is so dictated by everything else around me”. Like, he was saying he’s got fixed hours, that one of his kids is a nursery, he has fixed hours with the other child at school, blah blah blah and he doesn’t feel like he has any control over his time.
So the idea of looking at my list in terms of how long stuff is going to take would actually be really helpful for me because… and I’m so the wrong person to give advice about this sort of thing, I really am! Because my approach is so scatty. But I look at what I’ve got coming up and make a vague assumption about what I can achieve in the week coming up. But if I literally thought through every task and how long that might realistically take, and then you can design your week that way.
Particularly, as you say, if you’re a freelance parent and you’ve got weird, broken up bits of time across your week. Being able to slot in tasks according to how long they’re going to take in relation to when they’re supposed to be delivered. Oh my God Steve! Genius. I’m so going to do it!
[00:11:33] – Steve
Okay, we’re done. See you later.
Charlene, you say the list ranges from loads of paid client work to updating the website. So the website and portfolio is clearly important but I mean…
[00:11:46] – Frankie
It’s important for next year, presumably because people are booking their weddings now?
[00:11:51] – Steve
Yeah. I think you’ve got no choice but to prioritise that paid client work, right? Yes, you’ve got to. But the trouble with website portfolio updating is that that can seem like this huge job.
[00:12:05] – Frankie
Yes. If you don’t do it regularly, it is a huge job!
[00:12:08] – Steve
But maybe there’s subtle things that you can do.
[00:12:10] – Frankie
I was going to say exactly that. Well, you can do it two ways. Either you do a new case study a week, a month, whatever’s realistic, but you can break it up so you have something new on your website, but you do it over a longer period.
OR you could almost forget the website. Maybe drive people to your Instagram or somewhere else instead that’s easier to update, to add bitty updates of new work to that don’t take as much time. You’re still pushing yourself out there and still driving your marketing forward, but it’s not as huge a task as, like, doing the entire site.
[00:12:46] – Steve
Also, probably… I mean, I’ve not looked at your site, but I bet it’s not in such desperate need as you think it is. As in, you see it all the time, so you probably think it’s much older and staler than it really is.
[00:13:00] – Frankie
Yeah, so true.
[00:13:01] – Steve
So people who see it are presumably only likely getting married once!
[00:13:07] – Frankie
[00:13:08] – Steve
Certainly on that scale anyway, they’re probably looking at it for the first time is what I’m thinking. And unless you think a particular style of video or photography is like really out of date and not what people want these days, I bet most of what is on there is actually really good.
[00:13:27] – Frankie
Yeah. Is the priority then updating things like your pricing page or how to work with me or how to book me. Like if changes have been made in your business and the way you’re working. I know she’s got quite a small baby, maybe like how she’s working is changing over time?
So maybe prioritise that aspect of your site and then push new work out through your socials instead because it’s just quicker and easier. Then come back to your portfolio later in the year when it’s less… I say in the year when it’s less manic. She’s going to be in peak wedding season and like, traveling around the country! But you know what I’m saying, Charlene, you know what I’m saying.
[00:13:57] – Steve
But that is worth remembering — the fact that there are in all of our businesses, usually quieter periods and some of these tasks can maybe be moved. So, yes, they are important, they should be a priority, but the fact is, you don’t have time to do them right now.
So how about we remember that priority and shift it further down the line? Because the other option, of course, is that you hire some help, and that might be hiring help to look after the kids so you’ve got more time to do something. Or it might be hiring help to actually go and update a bit of your website or blah, blah, blah.
And if you don’t want to do that or you can’t afford to do that, then, yeah, kick it further down the road.
I think when it comes to accounts, I’m a big fan, as you know, of doing it in small installments once a week.
[00:14:48.] – Frankie
I started doing that. What a difference it makes!
[00:14:50] – Steve
It makes such a difference. And I also think it’s never too late to start. Unless you’re saying it because you’ve got to get a tax return in — obviously there’s a deadline to that. But in general, if you can just stay on top of your finances every week, spend an hour every Friday or whatever day, and gradually you will get on top of it. And then if you do it every Friday, it will only take five minutes, ten minutes, because the worst of it’s done.
[00:15:15] – Frankie
But I think she’s very wise to… She’s got the long game, she’s got the long vision. She’s like, “If I don’t update my website now, I’m going to have less bookings for 2024”. And that is important. Like, again, I’m the worst person to give advice. I don’t think that far ahead…!
I so rarely am like, “Oh, I should do that thing because I know I won’t have any work in September otherwise”. I’m so bad at thinking like that. So it’s great that she is prioritising stuff that she knows is going to make her life easier in the long run. But then something has to give, right?
I mean, I don’t know how many hours she has a week with a small baby around, but you’ve only got so much time. You only have so much time to do what you got to do.
[00:15:57] – Steve
You do. And this is why if you’re thinking, for example, “What if I worked on the SEO for my website?” Which must be a really key thing for what you do, maybe that is worth investing in someone to help you with? If you know that if you don’t do something, then you’re going to hinder your ability to get work further down the line, then maybe that is something that you do need help with.
[00:16:25] – Frankie
There are a million systems to prioritise your list. I’m sure if you Google it, there’s like so many. But would it be worth, like, writing down what your goals…? Goals? What your output? No. What’s the word I’m looking for? Write down what you want to achieve!
So for Charlene, that is like — happy clients, happy people that are paying me money. Then there’s like, “I want to get more future clients or better or a different type”. Whatever those things are. And then which of those things are most important to achieving those goals? And which of those are, like, added extras or nice-to-haves or actually not really realistic this year? It might help you to look at it within the context of yeah, like your overall vision.
But I say all of that and then I look at my current list and I think, I really would like to do all those things!