I love mapping things. Putting things in paper and placing them differently according to the most relevant criteria. I can map ideas, individuals, organizations, concepts, areas, groups, actions… whatever. Places can correspond to areas, importance, phases, location, moments. It helps me hugely to map them – I’m not even sure if that is the right name or if it is just me who calls it like that. At the same time, I love collaborating with people all over the world, around evaluation and challenging myself constantly out of my comfort zone to learn thanks to many of these collaborations.
However. Lately I’m spending my first (long) holiday period as a (busy) freelance. I had been a freelance for some 3 years now but I’m starting to be (or to feel) quite busy and this year I’m being on “holidays” (meaning not home and in holiday places) for seven weeks.
- I’ve only given my laptop holidays for five days I spent hiking in the mountains. The rest of days, I have used it for at least one hour to five hours a day. Which is not bad, but in the meantime, my mind hasn’t had a real rest.
- Next year, I will try to make a bigger effort to try to finish everything before I leave, so I only have to deal with new-in-the-inbox issues.
- I will try to assign specific moments every week (Thursdays afternoon, for example) to “work” or deal with whatever is in, so me and my family are more clear about whether I’m working or not.
- Maybe I’m going to have to start to say no. So far, as a professional starting in a new field –Evaluation- and with a new formula –as a freelance instead of salary job-, I felt I couldn’t say no to any interesting proposal that got to my table.
And this situation is where mapping has been useful for me this summer: with many different ideas in my head, of things to do, things to present, things to finish, things to invoice, etc., I came up with an idea that has helped me a lot to have the whole picture of what I’m dealing at the particular period.
It consists in a simple table where I can place my projects, divided primarily by paid and pro-bono (those collaborations you involve yourself which are not paid, but they are still interesting for many reasons).
And then I classify them according to the phase they are: if I have to prepare a proposal and submit it, if I already did that, if it has been approved and now I have to do it, if it is almost done, but some last details are to be polished, if I just need to send the invoice, or even if they are not yet in the picture, but I know they are (probably) coming soon.
I’m having a new office, so I’m thinking in laminating it and put actual post-its on it that I can move or remove as convenient. Of course other criteria could be used, such as dividing them by different clients, or else. Let me know if you find this useful! Happy summer! (or winter!).