Staying Sane on Fiverr: Productivity vs. Creativity
Irons and Steering Wheels
There are certain things in life I despise. One of them is ironing. Why? Because, no matter how long I iron, when I hold up the item afterwards, there's always still a wrinkle left somewhere. So back down it goes on the ironing board, and I get rid of that one, hold it up, and find another. Detestable business. :-) Ultimately had to just unplug the iron and walk away, knowing it still wasn't perfect. I'm pleased to say I don't have clothes that need ironing anymore, so that epoch is pretty much over in my life.
Of course, there are still lots of other ways for me to behave like Mr. Monk from the TV show. When I park the car, I like the steering wheel to look straight and level before I shut the car off. My work area always needs to be tidy, bed made, hair washed, etc., before I can get any serious work done. We all have our little quirks, right?
It's easy to carry over some of our quirkiness to our work, though I've conquered a lot of that, and it has helped me to be more balanced and productive. So that's what I want to share with you today, because I understand how easy it is to fall into those little "Monkish" practices that eat away our time like mice in a cupboard.
I hear from people fairly regularly who react to my comments on how long I spent on a voiceover, and remark, "My goodness...15 minutes? That would have taken me hours!" When I hear that sort of thing, I know there one or both of these issues are involved:
Lack of experience and an established workflow.
Obsessing over tiny details only you will notice.
I'm going to speak as a voiceover person, but I think these same concepts will carry over to most types of creative work done on Fiverr.
Lack of Experience
Think back to the first day you went to work as an employee somewhere. You walked into the place, looked around, and probably noticed the rate at which other staffers there were completing their work, and felt a little dismayed. A day or two later, the dismay might have grown to panic: "I'll NEVER be able to do my work that fast here!" But after a week or two, as you learned the ropes, and certain procedures became burned into rote memory, you probably found your speed increasing until you eventually found yourself pretty much moving through your work at the same rate as the people around you.
The same thing is true as a freelancer. When you first start out, even if you have some previous experience doing whatever it is you're good at, every step in the order handling and fulfillment process will feel slow and laggy. In receiving the order, you need to remember how you go about accepting the order, what questions to ask, what courtesies to extend, what extras to offer (and in some cases, insist on), what timetable to set for completion, and so on. In actually working on the order, lack of a lot of previous experience can affect your confidence and rate of speed, and you find yourself going over and over stuff to try and get it just right.
It's important to learn how to speed the process up as soon as you can, and in all the ways you can. Now, note this! The most important part of the speed-up process is awareness. You need to be "woke" as you're working on a project. Seriously! Pay attention to what works, even keep notes. "First I did this, then I did that, etc." The quicker you can establish a workflow, assign shortcut keys and macros in your software, and have a well-defined start-to-finish process, the faster you'll go. When you get a new order, take a few seconds before diving into it to remember what you did last time (or refer to your notes from the last order). What resources did I tap into? What layers or channels or tracks or effects or techniques did I use? How and when did I save out files in a way that kept things organized and flowing smoothly? Having an organized thought process you go through when working on an order will dramatically increase your speed and even your quality, all of which can do wonders for your peace of mind.
Get Yourself Under Control
Like Dane and his ironing, there always needs to come a time when you set down the iron and deliver to the client. A lot of that sense of "there, that'll do it" assurance comes through practice and experience, and after having established some standards in your own mind as to what you expect of yourself. If you leave that quality standard totally open-ended, a 15 minute job can indeed take hours, or a whole day if you let it. Don't do that to yourself. If you're just starting out, sure, give yourself some latitude on time. But focus on becoming quicker and more nimble in your work, so you can reach your personal quality threshold in the least time possible. Then, send it and move on.
The stress of uncertainty over your own abilities is something you'll solve by developing your skills. The stress caused by jobs taking up way too much of your time is something you'll overcome by improving your workflow, meeting specific personal quality standards, and then hitting the Send button.
The Headphones Quandary
For the voiceover people out there, let me mention one other thing. Headphones are inexpensive, as tools go, and do indeed give you excellent sound quality in monitoring. But their very nature can also add a LOT to the completion time of your projects, because they are so incredibly sensitive. In headphones, especially if you are listening at higher volume levels (a terrible thing to do to your hearing), you're going to find yourself in "Dane ironing mode." People with headphones often find themselves spending lots of time and effort chasing after infinitesimal flaws, teensy sounds, very minor noise, etc. and trying to edit and filter and edit and filter until they've potentially doubled their time on a project, and potentially, damaged their audio through extensive processing. I've gone to doing all my voiceovers headphone-free, and monitoring through speakers instead, because that, in reality, is how the voiceover will most likely be consumed. As long as you're listening at a decent volume level and have good speakers, you'll still catch the important issues, and you'll be far less likely to find yourself in eternal "ironing mode."
There's so much you and I can do together to improve your gig's performance. Schedule your Gig Doctor appointment by hitting the Gig Checkup link at the top of this page for an inexpensive personalized checkup and consultation!
For those of you who do voiceovers, or who are interested in entering that fun profession, I can help there too. Check out my voiceover coaching services.