Ask the cubicle expat(s): How will you streamline your admin workload in 2009?

December 16th, 2008

Let’s play a little game of open thread. Rather than talk about how we all want to land a pile of dream clients, sell more articles/photos/illustrations/tea cozies, and make buckets of cash in 2009, I thought we could discuss something that’s been near and dear to my heart lately: how to streamline the mountains of admin work that can plague self-employed professionals (as well as those working for the man or simply looking for that one decent gig that will get them back into the workforce after being laid off).

If you read my new book, you already know that I’m a spreadsheet junkie. A couple other things I’ve done recently to cut down on the thicket of admin work on my plate so I have more time to focus on writing:

  • Hired a virtual assistant to help with some of my book promo activities. This has been a godsend. Thank you, Jackie for saving my hide time and time again.
  • Hired a WordPress designer to make technical updates to my blog instead of trying to figure out the blasted code myself. (Duh. I should have done this ages ago.) Thank you, Liz of CMD+SHIFT DESIGN.
  • Added a somewhat strident FAQ to this site’s Contact page to cut down on the many, many requests I receive for free product plugs on this site and free career counseling. (It’s working so far — and may have even landed me a couple new consulting gigs.)

A few more things I plan to do in the new year to further streamline my admin work:

  • Hire a blog/social media intern. Stay tuned to this blog for the job listing. Or if you can’t wait, email me. (Note that this will be an unpaid position. For this reason, it may be best suited for a student.)
  • Have the fabulous Liz continue to improve this site — something I’ve been threatening to do for months now.
  • Finally automate my expense tracking (beyond the Excel spreadsheet I’ve been using) with a program like QuickBooks. (I know, I know. I’m old school.)
  • Set up more rules in my inbox so that every last press release, newsletter, and media list (that is, those I actually want to receive) goes to a special “to read later” folder far, far away from my inbox.
  • Finally read Gina Trapani’s Upgrade Your Life.

How about you? What tangible steps do you plan to take in the new year to optimize your worklife?

Entry Filed under: Ask the Cubicle Expat,Balance,This freelance life

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lisa Gates  |  December 16th, 2008 at 10:54 am

    What a lovely find your site is! And your question couldn’t be better. Since I work in the field of life balance, I always start with a look at my declarations in all areas of my life. If I don’t, setting goals like “find an assistant” seem like it would float, unattached to my bigger picture. GTD, with soul, I call it.

  • 2. Stephanie  |  December 16th, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I could definitely use a web analytics intern! :P

  • 3. Liz  |  December 16th, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I’m old school too – using spread sheets for financials, but I do want to try Quickbooks. I usually get so excited about playing with new software, but …ehhh….

  • 4. redehlert  |  December 16th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Tangible steps for 2009:
    Get business fully decked out using business management pro, Tina Janni of Bates Technical College.
    Put video into the Cognition Studio web site.
    Get up to speed on MYOB for books and billing — my biz partner is the only one doing this and I should do my part as well.
    Continue reading books and social media re: intellectual property; concept to consumer; creating magic; being a leader; and tribe building while at the same time expanding my artistic horizons (via classes and daily training).
    Be full time at Cognition Studio (still 50%).
    Kill my television. Waste too much time there.
    Charge accordingly and vacation accordingly.


    p.s. Enjoyed your latest book!

  • 5. Dan Erwin  |  December 18th, 2008 at 11:50 am

    I regularly update objectives, but always keep the macro/umbrella issues between 3 and 5. Currently, they are, manage client base, develop web traffic, focus on site additions–reearch, blog, white papers. (In addition, I devote an hour a day to administrivia). I break down the big three into approximately nine issues, prioritize and cut out all but three under each, then break out weekly, then daily chunks. I clean the desk at the end of each day, and lay out the next. I travel a lot so it can get harried, but that’s the outline. Once a year I get overwhelmed–then I clear off the desk and start all over.

    For managers, one of the best resources remains the golden oldie: Management time: Who’s got the Monkey? Harvard Business Review. It deals with three kinds of time: boss-imposed time, system-imposed time, and self-imposed time. (HBR, November-December 1974…I think that this is HBR’s all time, biggest reprint seller.) I can’t imagine a recommendation that old is still viewed as the best–but guess what? It still is…

    If curiosity is killing you, I think the second biggest is “How to Manage Your Boss.” by Kotter and Gabarro. The hundreds of articles since that one are largely retreads. I mention Kotter and Gabarro, because managing your boss has a lot to do with managing your time.

  • 6. In Solitary, At Least The&hellip  |  April 5th, 2010 at 6:38 am

    [...] Those of us who work alone at home all day — especially without a separate office space — face our own challenges: when to stop working, finding social contact within the workday, trying (hah!) to control the clutter of books, newspapers, magazines I use for work while my “office” is a desk in the livingroom, staying visible and audible within our industries. I offer some tips on how to handle isolation on my website. Michelle Goodman, who’s written several great books about working freelance, has some helpful tips on her website, including this one. [...]

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Who I am

Hi, my name's Michelle Goodman and I've been freelancing since 1992. I'm author of My So-Called Freelance Life and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide. Read my full bio here.

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