Ok, I have a confession – I am one of those planner lovers that buys planners every year, only to abandon them after a few weeks.
There, I said it.
It’s not that I don’t find value in them – it’s just that I have yet to find one that has everything that I need. Most planners have some features I love and then a bunch of extras that really don’t apply to me. Earlier this year, I set out to find the perfect planner for my freelance business.
I wanted a planner that was specifically created with entrepreneurs in mind. One that would allow me to keep track of my daily business activities, my blogging efforts, my client work, and any business/blogging events.
Honestly, I didn’t have high hopes. I thought that I would probably be better off just creating something in Microsoft Word and printing it out week by week. However, I set out looking for planners for business owners.
At some point during my research, I came across a blog post that was a review of several planners that small business owners could use. Many of them were ones I either already owned or heard about. Then I saw the Freelancer Planner.
I immediately got excited because of the name. Could it be that someone had actually created something just for freelancers? Obviously I had to check it out.
Why It Was Created
I had the opportunity to interview the creator, Michelle Nickolaisen, to find out what prompted her to create the Freelancer Planner and how she recommends people use it. Turns out that she created the planner because she realized that there was a need for it in the planner world. She is also a freelance writer and though she has a natural knack for organization, she knew that not everyone does.
“The original inspiration was the realization that most people are either really good at the day-to-day side of planning or they’re really good at the big picture, but they tend to struggle connecting the two sides. In other words, they need help with not only creating a bigger vision, but also with grounding those bigger goals in day-to-day action. On the flip side, they also need help with making sure that their day-to-day actions are connected to their bigger goals. So I created the download to help them do that. I also wanted it to help creatives with clear goal-setting.
The weekly printable planners came later, because I noticed that most planners just gave you a place to write things down but didn’t help you figure out what actually goes there. My planners are designed to help you figure out which tasks are actually worth doing and then realistically plan your week around those, making sure the important work gets done first.
When I went back to freelancing in 2014 (after taking a six-month hiatus), I really wanted to make sure I was focusing on the right things. That is when this final version of the Freelancer Planner was born. It combined the philosophies of the previous planners with freelance-specific components. For example, part of the monthly planning process is to set a monthly income goal, then break that down into daily income goals. By doing that, you can focus on doing that amount of billable work each day. I did this because it forces me to be more proactive. Once I started tracking my income this way, I started hitting my income goals much more consistently.”
How it Works
If you would like to see how the Freelancer Planner works (as described by Michelle herself), feel free to watch the video below. She explains it so much better than I could (after all, she created it).
What I Love
Ok, there is so much that I love about this planner.
- There are physical copies as well as digital copies. I prefer having something in my hand that I can write in. I mean, at least ¼ of the satisfaction of completing tasks is being able to cross it off your list – right?
- It’s nice and simple. This is just a personal preference – I like that it doesn’t need all of the frills of stickers, washi tape, and all of the other cute yet unnecessary planner accessories. I mean, you could definitely use those if you want to – but it is not required. I’m a pretty simple person and just wanted something straightforward that didn’t make me feel like I have to spend a lot of time prettifying it before I used it. I just want to be able to immediately put it to use.
- It helps me keep my goals front and center. I really like that it is very goal-centered. It prompts you to constantly work towards your goals, both short-term and long-term. It helps you get into the mindset of asking yourself “Ok what are my big goals for this month and what can I do on a weekly and daily basis to reach it?” It also helps you to make connections between what you are doing and what goal it will help you to accomplish. This has the added benefit of helping you to eliminate those tasks that don’t really move you forward on goals.
- It covers many aspects of your business. Initially, I was looking for something that would help me to keep my client projects in order. This does that and so much more. With the weekly “Staple Tasks” section of the planner, I can plan my marketing strategy, content creation, and social media efforts, in addition to my client projects.
- Helps with prioritizing. I love that the daily section of the planner prompts you to focus on 3 priority tasks and then 3 tiny tasks. That helps me to focus on the important things while also working on some of the other small yet important tasks. Also, by limiting it to 3 priorities, it makes it feel less overwhelming than have a super long to-do list.
- Income Goal Tracking. Obviously the main reason anyone becomes a freelancer is so that they can make a living. So your income is definitely something you are concerned about. The tough thing about freelancing, though, is that the income is not always stable. We don’t get paid an hourly wage, so our income can fluctuate from month to month. If you want to avoid the feast-or-famine cycle that is common amongst freelancers, it is important to know how much you need to earn each month and then figure out what you need to do throughout the month to hit that goal.Michelle has created a system that helps tremendously with that – and it doesn’t even require anything complicated. The idea is to determine your monthly income goal, decide how many days you want to work that month, and then do a little bit of math to determine how much you need to earn each workday to achieve your goal. For example, let’s say that you want to earn $2,000 in May. Perhaps you only work on weekdays. There are 22 weekdays in May, so you would have 22 workdays that month. If you divide your $2,000 goal by the 22 workdays, you come up with a daily income goal that is just shy of $91. With that in mind, you can figure out a marketing plan that will enable you to earn that much by offering your freelance services. I also like that there is a place on the monthly calendar to track your daily income.
- Helps you to Assess What You Are Doing. Part of being a successful business owner (or person in general) is the ability to look at what you are doing and decide if it is working. I like that you are prompted each month to ask yourself:
- What goals did I meet this month?
- What goals did I not meet this month?
- Could I have done more to meet those goals? If so, what?
- Were there outside factors I didn’t anticipate? Is there anything I can do next time to diminish or remove those distractions?
Answering these questions can help you to improve things from one month to the next.
- It helps you learn to plan. As I watched how Michelle recommends you use the planner and then actually worked through the process myself, I found myself approaching my business in a different way – a more efficient and effective way. I realized that even though I am great at what I do for my clients, I still had a lot to learn about running a business in a way that reduced overwhelm and would help me to achieve my goals consistently. I feel like this has helped me to develop better business habits that reduced the stress that often accompanies the freelance life while enabling me to increase my income.
In short, if your goals are to plan better, stress less, and earn more – this is definitely worth checking out.
How to Buy It
If you are interested in snagging a copy of The Freelancer Planner, you can do so at TheFreelancerPlanner.com. I highly recommend it if you need a planner that will help you to build a more effective, efficient, and profitable freelance business. You can also connect with Michelle on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Are you a freelancer? If so, how do you stay organized? Let me know in the comments below! If you know any other freelancers who might need a new organizational system, please share this post