Earlier this year, I undertook a training session targeting small business manager to teach them how to improve profitability of business projects. The course instructor showed us a rather clear way to deal with profitabiliy. First, you estimate your break-even hourly rate, based on your history. Then, you don’t sell any project under the bottom line. After that, you prioritize your work to put the highest priority on the most profitable projects. Finally, you keep any accepted project above the bottom line.
The idea is quite simple. It’s all down to the execution. I began to schedule my workday according to business priorities preferably to a sense of urgency that overcame me before. Then, everytime I felt I was at risk to hit the bottom line, I shifted my attention towards what I really sold to the client annd I reduced my objectives accordingly. Finally, I was trying to become a project reviewer for a well known MOOC platform. But the hourly rate was much too low. I felt relief to drop my candidature. Paid projects management improved greatly. But, a significant part of my workday, dedicated to volunteer projects, was out of the scope of this effort.
Too many commitments, workaholism, things we begin and we never achieve, any freelance worker faces these contradictions. The inherent contradiction is even stronger when you work on non-paid project. How to prioritize your volunteer works?
Ten working hours a day is my upper limit, considering that I’m not a computer nerd, I’ve got a family, hobbies, and a social life … I was already busy ten hours a day. Adding anything to my schedule implied removing something else. I have been more or less active on professional social networks for three years. I first thought this commitment would improve my reputation and fuel my prospect pipeline. But in three years, the return was not very encouraging. I felt that my social network activity was fueled by bitterness or anxiety or ego or the three rather than by a clear sense of business opportunity! I decided to forget social networks. Two to three hours a week were freed thanks to this good resolution.
I chose to devote these hours to Agile Venture mob programming sessions. It’s a real community, with real developers. You can both learn by observing how skilled developers work and by doing things by yourself.
I’m still in the midstream of my prioritization effort. I’ve been very actively participating in MOOCs for five years. My skills greatly improved as a result of this effort. But choosing which courses to invest on is not easy. Knowledge is a bit like indirects costs. You don’t really know how to assign it to your achievements. During the first years, the offer flourished. I tried many courses, from Economy to Computer Sciences. I progressively focused on Computer Science and left courses as they switched to paid offers.
As I was giving up, a prominent MOOC platform offers me to beta-test courses for free. Free refill is the end of resolution and the beginning of passive hyperactivity! You may begin your training week with a course on Embedded systems and end, on friday, with a course on PythonML on friday, without completing any. Does it make sense to participate in a mob programming session about RSPEC on monday, another one about phoenix on wednesday, on the last one about React on friday, when you only need to develop a small web app with React?
AgileVenture Premium Mob includes some kind of Professional Development Planning Support. I may ask the team to help me clean my training plan. But I’m still afraid they will tell me to stop learning Tensor Flow or the nitty gritty of Intel Parallel Architecture if I don’t have any prospect to work in these fields in the next year!