Ep 79: A productivity hack for busy freelancers with Bonnie Harrington
“Recalibrate your expectations, not your tools.”
This was a piece of advice Cal Newport gave to a listener on a recent episode of his Deep Questions podcast. The listener was hunting for some app, system or subscription that would magic away the long, tedious, soul-crumpling process of taking and organising research notes. Cal’s answer? That’s just how it is.
Some jobs just ARE a pain to do. Some tasks just take time.
Progress requires patience 🤷🏻♀️
Sometimes you don’t need a new tool: you need to shift your expectations of how easy/hard this process should be, whether that’s note-taking or some aspect of running a business that you’re hoping has a magic fix.
(This isn’t one of those “mindset fixes everything” posts – we’re not denying reality or bending to hustle culture here. We’re just reframing our expectations of what it takes to get 💩 done.)
All that said, of course you can make things easier with the right tools!
Some tasks are a grinding pain in the arse. You can make peace with that by shifting your expectations – AND you can also get through them faster with good systems and tools.
On today’s episode of 15 Minute Freelancer, Bonnie Harrington shares one such tool: the Pomodoro technique.
Whether you’ve heard of Pomodoro or you’re wondering what on earth tomatoes have to do with productivity, you’ll enjoy Bonnie’s take on beating procrastination, checking off your most dreaded admin tasks, and making time management… manageable.
Bonnie is a freelance writer, host of Tomato Tuesdays, and all-round Pomodoro enthusiast. On this ep, we discuss:
The life-changing magic of the Pomodoro technique
Using Pomodoros for time tracking so you can charge correctly for future projects 👀
Pomodoro co-working for accountability, networking and connection (hello, Tomato Tuesdays)
Bonnie's fave tools and systems for performing at your best when you work alone.
Regular listeners know that I love hearing how other freelancers stay organised. If you do too, I think you'll enjoy this episode.
Listen here »
🧠 Insight: Near the end of this conversation, Bonnie reminded us to outsource what we can. If we were traditionally employed, we wouldn’t be doing everything ourselves for that whole company – we would just be focusing on our own job and doing that really well. We should apply the same logic (where possible) when working for ourselves.
Maybe that’s hiring a VA or an accountant or a website developer. Maybe it’s outsourcing to a small team who can support your client work. Maybe it’s software and automations! Or maybe it’s someone to help with non-work tasks to free up time, such as a cleaner or childminder. Where do you need help, and what steps can you take to get it? You don’t have to (and can’t!) do it all yourself.
➡️ 15 Minute Action: Couple of things you can do with a spare 15 mins this week – download a Pomodoro timer (I like Tomato One) and check out Bonnie’s Tomato Tuesday coworking sessions.
And if you’re curious about how I structure my days to fit in deep work sessions (another idea I pinched from my pal Cal) using the Pomodoro technique, check out episode 64: A Day in the Life of a Freelance Copywriter. This ep has been one of the most popular, so I guess I’m not the only one who’s a bit nosy about how other people stay organised?!
And lemme know, what tasks do you use the Pomodoro technique with (or what are you going to test it out with next week)?
Until next time, happy freelancing!
P.S. Want to feature in my upcoming Ask Me Anything episode? Record your question here: memo.fm/15/ and you could be featured on the episode :)