Being more intentional in 2023

2022 was my most profitable year since going freelance, making almost twice as much as I did in 2021. But too many days ended with me feeling like “I didn’t get anything done.”

I completed three 5-figure projects, built a hiring platform and grew it to $150k, and launched a workshop with 15 attendees.

Those are big accomplishments. And on paper it means I was very successful!

So why would I ever get up from my computer and think “I could have done more today”?

I think a big reason was that my year didn’t have much focus. It was invigorating to do whatever I wanted (the $150k side business never would have happened otherwise) but I’m not sure how fulfilled I actually was.

I’m hoping to change that in 2023 by being more intentional with everything I do.

  1. I will add structure to what I work on, and when, so that I feel like I worked on “the right things” at the end of the day.
  2. I will be accountable to my own time so that I’m not sitting in front of my computer all day “doing nothing”.
  3. And I will chase work that maximizes revenue and fulfillment so that I can continue to grow a sustainable and enjoyable business.

Add structure

One of my coping mechanisms when I’m stressed about work is to work on passion projects.

Sometimes this is a good thing – it led to RailsDevs! But most of the time it can be a distraction - taking time away from what will level up my business.

Adding structure won’t enable me to do more work. It will, in fact, do the exact opposite.

By putting up guardrails on what, and when, I work on things I give myself the freedom to step away when the day is done. I’m starting this with:

  1. 3 high-level quarterly goals that directly influence my annual revenue goal.
  2. 1 mid-level weekly goal that gets me closer to one of my quarterly goals.
  3. 1-3 small, actionable daily goals that I can accomplish during the work day.

The intention is that once my daily goals are achieved I will feel accomplished enough to step away from my computer.

To do what? To do anything! To go for a hike, to cook an elaborate dinner, to pick up my son early from daycare, to play video games… To do anything that isn’t sitting in front of the computer “doing more”.

Be accountable to my own time

My first few years of freelancing I tracked every minute spent working for clients. And it helped me determine which projects to chase to maximize my effective rate.

Once I found my unique offering I stopped tracking time entirely in 2022. And I think that it led me to being on my machine for many more hours than I realize.

My goal for this year is to track 100% of my time in front of a computer. I don’t need granular details. But I want to know how much time I spent on, for example, emails vs. consulting or doom scrolling vs. writing blog posts.

Let me know if you have any recommendations for time tracking software or hardware! Right now I’m using FreshBooks which is good enough. But I’d love something that was more native to macOS.

I plan to then reflect on these numbers every week and every month to see where my time is going. Ideally, this will encourage me to spend even less time staring at the screen and more time living my life.

Chase work that maximizes revenue and fulfillment

My consulting practice is extremely niche and focused. Which means that when I find the right fit we make amazing things happen. I want to work with more folks like this.

These businesses:

  • Tell me their budget upfront enabling me to provide the highest value for their budget.
  • Have a dev team that is small enough to be autonomous so the work moves quickly.
  • Work mostly async with very few meetings so I can work with multiple clients at once.

Outside of my consulting practice I run half a dozen different projects. Each providing varying levels of fulfillment and profit.

I shouldn’t be spending time on projects that are neither fulfilling nor lucrative. It’s one thing to have a passion project that brings in no revenue. It’s another to not even enjoy that work in the first place.

My goal for 2023 is to reduce the work that doesn’t meet these requirements and focus this energy on the ones that do. Which means more time spent doing the stuff I enjoy or that pays the bills.

Written down, this seems so obvious! But I think I needed to have the year of reflection to get to this point. All too often I stick with something because I don’t want to change it. Even if it doesn’t benefit me anymore.

Looking ahead

Today is the first work day of 2023. The first day I’m applying these techniques.

I hope they work! But only time will tell. I’ll be reflecting on these every quarter in my monthly newsletter.

Send me an email if you’d like to see my quarterly goals or a copy of the template I used.

Until then, I hope your 2023 is more intentional, too!