Useful tools and techniques for prioritisation and effective working

Now freelance, Kathryn Welch was formerly Director of Voluntary Arts Scotland, Operations Director at Macrobert Arts Centre, and Founder of community-rooted projects like Stirling Soup. Happiest when spinning lots of plates at once, she’s known for a practical approach that helps make the best use of time and prioritises getting sh*t done. These are Kathryn’s tips, tools and techniques for prioritisation and effective working.

Urgent vs. Important Matrix

  • Work to your strengths e.g. working the hours that match your energy and brainpower
  • Take one step in the right direction toward a goal, don’t get intimidated by a massive goal
  • Eat the frog – think of the task you are dreading and putting off as a tiny little frog that’s sitting on your desk and which you have to eat. During the day the frog will get bigger and bigger so it’s best to eat the frog first thing at the start to the day when it’s a tiny little thing rather than the size of a whole chicken.
  • Sometimes ‘good enough’ is good enough. There are decreasing returns after a certain point. Getting a certain thing to 70% great and getting them out the door frees up your time and attention for the things you *really* want to concentrate on.

Self-reflection for Freelancers: Losing the admin of appraisals; keeping the impact

Here’s a blog post and customisable appraisal form to allow you to do the parts of the appraisal process that are meaningful and useful to you, to hold yourself to account, set goals and break them down.

You can use this use them to ‘play the system’ of your brain i.e. create a motivation to do what you really want to (but might not get round to)

The appraisal form asks you to produce real data so that you can work from fact and it encourages to celebrate successes – which we have a habit of downplaying and dismissing even though that demotivates us.

It encourages the question ‘is this the right work’? (Assessing against your goals and values, not just what work comes your way.)

Getting New Projects Off the Ground

These are some things I’ve found work well…

  • Start asap – people will follow once it’s obvious something’s happening
  • Start, then refine – perfection as the enemy of progress
  • Ask for help, be specific, say yes
  • With community projects – it’s ok to be a bit shit! This is a mantra from the organiser of Fun Palaces. Putting something out that’s far from perfect allows space for other people’s ideas. If you put it out there in all its imperfection and step back, it allows others to step forward.
  • Go where the energy is – pick your battles and pick your collaborators.

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