Wondering how to master time management and productivity when you work for yourself?
Erin Sturm is one of the many digitally savvy Millennials defining her own career path as a freelancer. A marketing consultant specializing in social media strategy, content creation, and community management, Erin moved to freelancing after the birth of her daughter in 2014. Since Erin freelances for me, keeping my content creation running smoothly and on schedule, I was especially curious to know how she does it all. I was also interested in getting her thoughts on mentorship in the 24/7, always on, always distracted, digital age.
On Mentorship As A Freelancer
I define a mentor as someone who offers advice, guidance and support to help you achieve your career and personal goals. – Erin Sturm
Looking back on her career, Erin can’t ever recall having a one-on-one mentor relationship. And now that she has a daughter, she doesn’t feel that she has the time to dedicate to a 1:1 mentoring relationship — especially since both mentor and mentee need to dedicate the time for the relationship to be successful. Instead, Erin’s alternative approach to seeking mentors has been to find groups and online gurus to answer career questions and guide her professional growth. She is particularly drawn to group mentoring, as participants benefit from the insights of peers as much they do from the group leader.
Modern mentorship can happen in a group setting where each member offers advice and support. – Erin Sturm
Because she’s a digital native, Erin is attracted to finding the mentorship she needs online. Facebook groups provide 24/7 access to feedback along with the ability to connect without the hassle of planning a date and time. This is the huge upside to the barrage of content being posted online: access to the mentoring advice a freelancer or digital nomad needs, whenever she needs it.
Because it’s easy, Erin relies heavily on two Facebook groups for mentorship. One is a Facebook group of women who own online businesses and have children under the age of 2. The other is a Facebook group of moms from all walks of life who happened to have babies in June 2014. Both of these groups have given her great guidance on work/life balance and applications for her business. One great productivity tip Erin recalls was to set days for focusing on specific work/clients instead of attacking the “hottest” fire. This tip really helped Erin with her organizational skills when she started out as a freelancer.
And while specific time saving or productivity tips are needed, Erin notes the most important thing that these Facebook groups have provided is a sense of community and support – essential elements when you’re working alone, from home.
Time Management And Productivity
Taking the mentoring advice of set days to focus on specific work/clients, Erin uses Google calendar to time-block the week and set priorities for each day. She gives each client a daily block of time (usually 30 minutes to 1 hour), and then she attacks the top priority for that client during their time frame.
To stay on top of her own professional development, Erin also blocks off about 20 minutes each day to work on personal projects each day. And here’s where the work/life balance comes in: Erin wasn’t seeking to work 40 hours a week as she did when she began working. By calendaring her clients across the entire week, she’s able to be a full-time mother too.
As the primary caregiver of her daughter, Erin makes working from home work for her clients and her daughter. Erin has a dedicated home office, noting she’s one of those people who is easily distracted, so an office with a door she can close was essential. If you’re the easily distracted type, Erin suggests surrounding yourself with creature comforts like an essential oil diffuser, music and lots of coffee.
To Get Your Mentoring Started Online
If your freelancing career sounds a lot like Erin’s, here are some mentoring suggestions:
- Join CloudPeeps. According to Erin, it’s a great community for freelancing opportunities).
- Seek out the Freelance to Freedom group on Facebook. Erin notes it is another great place for sharing knowledge with other freelancers.
- Blogging: Erin turns to The Write Life. She also writes a blog about her own experience freelancing as a mother at Freelancing Mama.