Streamlining Auto-Industry Style to Get 2–4 Times More Done

Have you ever gotten to the end of the day and thought to yourself …

“I can't believe how little I got done today”?

If you can relate to the above question, I have the perfect tip for you.

Before becoming a freelance copywriter, I taught people how to write family stories, organize their photos, and record them in a scrapbook.

This was the normal new customer scenario:

Bring boxes of unorganized photos to a workshop. Take a pack out. Crop four or five photos for their page. Put their scissors down. Arrange the photos on their page. Look for some colored paper. Pick up the scissors and cut the paper. Rearrange their page with the paper and the pictures … you get the idea.

This process meant customers were only completing between four to 12 pages in a four-hour workshop.

That was unacceptable to me.

I taught my customers more of an assembly line method.

Instead of creating one page at a time, customers did each task for multiple pages at one time. For example, they would crop all of their photos for 30 to 40 pages at once, lay out the paper and photos for 30 pages at once, etc.

This process made them much more efficient because instead of having to put down the scissors between each page, they just held onto that tool and cut over and over.

Their productivity increased tremendously. In fact, customers started completing up to 48 pages in the same four-hour period.

This same method can be applied to your freelance work too, making you much more efficient with your time.

To set up your own assembly line system, here’s what you’ll need to do:

Step One: Make a list of daily tasks

Take a few days and write down everything you do. Every phone call, email, and task should be listed, no matter how small it is.

Step Two: Group your activities into categories

Look through your list for similar actions. For example, answering emails, making phone calls, meetings with clients, accounting tasks, copywriting.

Now rearrange your list by the way they relate to each other. This will help you determine a list of categories that you normally do on a daily or almost daily basis. For instance, here’s what my categories are: Learning, Writing, Emails, Meetings, Phone Calls, Administrative/Accounting, Marketing, Social Media.

Step Three: Determine how much time you should spend on each category

Looking back at your list, in an eight-hour day, let’s say you determine that you spend about half an hour, on average, reading and returning emails and about four hours on writing.

You’ll want to look at this in two ways: by hours spent per day and by the percentage of your time spent. So if you determine you write four hours during an eight-hour day, then that means 50 percent of your scheduled time will be for writing.

Knowing the percentage comes in handy when you have a day that is longer or shorter, so you can easily adjust. For instance, if you decide to only work four hours one day, you’d limit your writing time to fifty percent of your time or two hours.

When you look at how you are spending your time, you may discover you are spending too much time on a given task. If that’s the case, look at what is keeping you from completing your task in a timely manner.

Are you checking social media sites? Is another task distracting you? Try to determine the cause and eliminate or at least minimize it as much as possible.

You can also try setting a timer and giving yourself a set amount of time to complete this task. Keep decreasing the amount of time you allow yourself by five-minute increments until you are consistently completing things in the time it should take.

Step Four: Arrange your day by categories

When making your daily to-do list, group items under your predetermined categories. Set your schedule and follow it.

Step Five: Don’t let temptations interrupt your categorized schedule

It might be tempting to stop and check Facebook or look at email in the middle of your writing time; however, it’s important to avoid that at all costs.

Because whenever you switch between tasks, it takes your brain a bit of time to get into the next item on your to-do list.

Think about when you’re writing something and are interrupted by a phone call. It takes a few minutes to regain your train of thought.

In fact, at times you may even forget your idea altogether and have to spend time coming up with a new one.

Using this method, I regularly complete two, three, and even four times as much as I used to. For instance, it used to take me all day to complete three pages of copy. Now I regularly write six to 12 pages of copy in a day in addition to taking client meetings, answering emails, coordinating social media promotions, and more.

Just like it has for me, rearranging your schedule in this 21st-century assembly line format will streamline your day, making it easier to complete more than you ever could before. It also helps you avoid distractions and stay focused on achieving your goals.

What changes are you planning to make to ensure you are managing your time to achieve the writer’s life you want? Share them below.

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Published: April 10, 2012

4 Responses to “Streamlining Auto-Industry Style to Get 2–4 Times More Done”

  1. This was exactly what I needed today! I've been doing most of these things except step #4, which I'll start now. I was spending too much time bouncing back and forth between unrelated tasks. Thanks, Cindy.

    Steve RollerApril 10, 2012 at 7:29 am

  2. Thanks for this timely reminder, Cindy.

    We appreciate your ideas here. We really do.

    Me, it helps to maintain a note-pad. I have to write things down and I prepare a check-list or a to-do list.

    One by one, the tasks are accomplished--all in good time.

    Prioritize: that helps too. Some tasks are more important than others.

    Waking up early in the morning, earlier than usual, can also help in organising your day. Hope this helps. Cheers.

    Archan MehtaApril 10, 2012 at 11:56 am

  3. Thanks for the advice. I am new at freelancing and truly value all the information that is provided on this site. In addition to streamlining my work, I have also added a dedicated creative space to do my writing.

    Guest (Jennis)April 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

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