How to find time for a commitment to be ‘doing better’ – with Justin Jackson [Q&A]

We all have a pretty clear idea of what it might take to earn more or ‘do better’. Growing lists of ideas borrowed from blog posts lay atop sprawling Evernote folders and pages of iPhone notes we tapped out while shopping; all languish unresolved or simply not started.

This is especially true as freelancers and solopreneurs. We get so wrapped up absorbing ideas for pricing, proposals, pitch processes, marketing, productivity we miss out the important bit, getting them done.

This is a fundamental issue which can be avoided and it’s something I go to great lengths to cover off in the book – ‘Stop thinking like a freelancer’.

So I was really happy when Justin Jackson ( agreed to come on and chat this through. If you know anything about Justin you’ll know all about the spirit of hustle he instills in others on his site and, his podcast Product People and via his ‘JFDI’ mantra (if you can’t guess the acronym, the audio explains!). It was a pleasure to have him on, we covered some great ground and I’ve wrapped this up into a guide below.

Start small, really small

Easier said than done, right? I think we all have a tendency to allow ideas to run away with us, what was once a mere whiff of an idea on the way home from a client meeting or midway through breakfast, becomes a time-devouring megalithic relaunch plan.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Justin advocates starting small. To “cut it in half, then cut it in half again” and this is a great takeaway as applies to any goal in any industry. Each time you ‘ship it’, you’ll feel a sense of forward progress.

Every one of these ‘mini fist pumps’ builds motivation as each is directly related to achievement. We’re programmed to take hope and happiness from every achievement almost equally, regardless of the size. So doesn’t it make sense therefore to make sure the wins come regularly?

If you are setting yourself huge, unwieldy goals that stretch months and years into the future you’re constantly pulling yourself wearily towards something, rather than bouncing away from a previous win.

Don’t just do anything, do ‘it’

When putting aside time to work on ‘doing better’ (and there are some practical ideas for doing that below) we’re not just looking to do ‘anything’ we’re looking to do ‘it’, the one thing, the 20% that’ll provide 80% of the impact. Try to implement the highest leverage item that’ll give you the best chance of pushing forward and focus on that.

“Do that one thing that you know you should be doing that’s going to substantially move you forward, that’s not hanging out on Twitter for hours or browsing Reddit all day. JFDI is to say ‘I’m going to quit procrastinating and just f’ing do it'”

Isolate out a ‘week of hustle’

When it comes to being away from our business, at conferences, on vacation or otherwise we find it fairly easy to add an ‘out of office’ and disconnect from day-to-day communication. Clients and collaborators are really clear that you will be unavailable and leave you alone. So Justin recommends spoofing this effect, to all intents and purposes you are uncontactable yet rather than spend this time taking in talks at a conference you spend it on your own business.

It doesn’t have to be a week either, it’s even easier to justify being out of office for a day or two at a time, yet you can make significant changes in your business this short period of time.

Choose your audience wisely

We switched gears in the call, to actually using this time for building an audience, an online voice. When it comes to building a platform (the same goes for fine tuning who specifically you’re going to aim your freelance service at too) it’s crucial to choose wisely. Pick an audience you’re already part of or choose an area you’re already delivering work in and start to build up trust.

Justin recommends building content of interest to this specific audience, hosting a webinar, writing a short ebook just generally providing a little more depth to your web presence.

> Further reading – ‘Why nobody knows your name’ short book

Break outside of the confines of your own website

In line with the above, to build a reputation that transcends your own web presence or social profiles it’s vital for you to provide value outside of the tiny echo chamber of your own footprint. Comment on the blog posts of others, contribute to conversations in communities, advertise on social platforms generally be active.

In my book ‘Stop thinking like a freelancer’ this is the third phase of freelancer evolution. The book is free for 5 days on Amazon, reserve your copy here

Join a purposeful community

Justin recommends investing time in joining a community, the benefits are numerous but essentially a mastermind group or community of likeminded individuals will help you be more accountable to the goals you set yourself as well as giving you a sounding board for new ideas. We’re throwing open the doors for the Freelancelift community soon, focused groups like this as well as Justin’s Product People club will help you push forward with the support of others in your position.

“We need way more help than we often think we do. Joining communities can really help with our motivation; it’s great having people who care about what you’re trying to achieve”

You can find more about Justin at and definitely subscribe to the Product People podcast for a weekly dose of ideas and a mantra of hustle to help you ship them.

Learn anything? Please share

When you’re held ransom by client work and income instability how are you supposed to find time to work on “growth” (whatever that means).

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  • Daryl Knight

    Doing something small instead of always turning it into something big is great advice. Boag’s recently written a post about it too – do something, anything, small every day instead of turning it into a relaunch. Wake up every morning and ask yourself, “What one small thing can I do today to improve my business?”

    • Liam at Freelancelift

      Yeah definitely Daryl – it just breeds that sense of forward momentum and clarity too as to what we’re actually doing to forward our businesses.

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