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I recently started as a freelance researcher. I mostly work on projects where I have to do measurements and analyse the data.

While I have a little bit of experience with project management, I'm wondering how much self management is appropriate. After all, the only person I would be reporting to is myself. So I guess the most useful result is that my future estimates will be more accurate.

But how much of this self management is appropriate and what benefits am I currently overlooking?

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You are overlooking two standard benefits:

  • the standard benefits associated with better reporting to a client. The more accurate, clear, easy to read and detailed, an account you can provide of the work you have performed, the more useful your client will find the actual work. It also helps signal a more professional attitude towards your work and your clients, which many clients value enough to pay higher rates for, given the same quality work.
  • the standard benefits associated with better tracking of work in general. The more detailed, accurate and complete your self-management process is, the more likely you are to be able to find ways to optimize your time and work, and to increase your productivity.
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This is a really great question. It is far too easy for a freelancer to become focused only on the 'work' of the business and miss out on the 'working the business' tasks.

If you try to do this after the fact, you will probably be constantly catching up and reacting to situations. My solution is always planning ahead (hmmm project manager planning ahead, who'd have thunk it) Use you calendar, plan what you need to do for specific tasks throughout the next week. If you only plan in work for clients, you will do yourself a disservice, and eventually your clients. Items to consider setting a weekly goal on. 1 billable time 2 searching for new work 3 increasing your skills and knowledge 4 rest 5 personal goals

Hope this helps.

Perry

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Before you can answer this question effectively, you have to ask yourself "What do I need to know"? Then you can decide how much planning, measuring and reporting is needed. For example, if you freelance, you likely are responsible for providing cost & schedule efforts. Do you know how accurate those estimates are? Techniques such as tracking your project velocity are not too time consuming, but can help.

Are you sure you are working on the most important tasks coming your way? Or do you feel as if you get caught up responding to the latest emergency? Perhaps GTD can help.

Are you keeping up with the latest developments in your field? Perhaps a training plan is what you need.

Bottom line: only you can determine how much self-management you need, but Perry Wilson's response is spot on - it's easy to get caught up in the daily project work and forget about everything else you need to do to become successful.

You may find the Goal-Question-Metric approach helpful.

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