People often ask me things like:
-how do I get things done when I work from home
-how do I know what is a priority for my business
-there are so many things to do, how do I know what will make money quick

When you write these out, the answers are MUCH BIGGER than the simple questions. The answers are so convoluted that I hesitate to answer…especially on a free consult or when these are asked in passing.

If you are new here or don’t know me, I started my first online business….the one that made actual money…in 1999. I know, a long time ago. My first online business was service-based, medical transcription that first was just me and then I hired a few transcriptionists, diversified and basically was leveraging my time before I actually knew what that meant.

“Digital Nomad wasn’t even a thing!”

But I was working from home during a time when it wasn’t cool. Digital Nomad wasn’t a thing yet. Oh, I wish it were. I wanted to have freedom of schedule to be home with my kids and being the free-spirited Aquarius that I am, I wanted to have more control over my life. There was a ton of other crap going on in my life, which is a totally different story, but I wanted to have SOMETHING in my life that only I controlled. I wanted to have an income stream…ooo a little foreshadowing there…and have control over when and where I worked.

To understand the method behind the madness and learn your best strategy, a tad bit of backstory to share. It all makes sense. That’s what you want to hear, right?



Finding a way to make money working from home came out of necessity to be home with my then preschooler. She isn’t a preschooler anymore…though I wish. She’s finishing up graduate school as I’m recording this. Yikes. She is super smarty pants…hates when I say that but I’m the mom and pretty sure birthing her gives me deference to say so.

Then came daughter #2, who by the way is also a beautiful genius…I’m allowed to say that…they are both academics.

I wanted to be the free-spirited mom, the one who homeschooled or unschooled their kids. I wanted to teach them about the world by traveling. Well, they had other plans.

What does this have to do with getting things done in my business, Kelly?

These early days, when I didn’t really know what I was doing and couldn’t just Google it or go to YouTube for answers, forced me to figure it out myself. Forced me into certain habits…these are the habits, ideas, and strategy that online entrepreneurs ask me about these days.

My kids, being who they were, thankfully, were not ones to plop in front of the television (Thank God) or send off to a sitter – and so not the reason why I started working from home in the first place. Saying they are academics is really true – they like the structured environment of the American public school system…even with all its faults and they love standardized tests. Yep, you heard that right. We won’t go down that rabbit hole right now.

Yes, at first it is just about making money. Probably the same as it is for you. You’ve found something you’re good at, a problem you can solve, which has now opened up a ton of other problems you didn’t even know you had! 


The Wrong Way

I did it WAY WRONG at first. I worked when she was at preschool or sleeping. I mean that seemed to work well. I had a 24-hour turn around time for clients…the issue was that I didn’t leave any room for contingencies. I worked 8 am to 12 pm. And 8 pm to 12 am. I became a master of productivity and efficiency until….

Things happened like
-school was canceled or delayed due to weather
-she was sick
-the (gasp) dial-up internet wasn’t working correctly
-voice files for transcription were late, wouldn’t download or upload
-sometimes the files were SO LARGE (remember, this was a minute or two ago when download speeds were so slow you could start it, walk away, fix dinner, read your kid bedtime stories, maybe take a shower THEN come back and maybe it was done…or you had to restart it.)

Ok, so you need the potential for stress.

When I started leveraging my work and time by hiring other people, sometimes they simply didn’t do it. Didn’t want to. Didn’t work that day. They were contractors so I couldn’t force them. At the end of the day, the buck stopped with me. I had to figure out a way to get it all done.

“Are You the Bullet or the Barrel?”

That was a hard lesson to learn.

So when people ask me HOW to get their tasks done or that they don’t know WHAT task to prioritize…

I ask – Are you the bullet or the barrel?

This often follows quizzical looks and a lot of Huh? The bullet or the barrel?

You don’t have to know EVERY SINGLE PIECE of your business, especially these days, to keep it going. You can outsource development, research, copywriting if you’re daring, etc. One thing is YOU must KNOW YOUR BUSINESS and your CUSTOMER.


The Bullet or Barrel

It’s an idea from Keith Rabois (ray-boy). He is an entrepreneur and former executive at PayPal, LinkedIn, Slide and Square. A little bit of controversy in his career yet this barrel bullet story has stuck with me for years.

Some people are the barrel. The big round barrel. The big idea. You can pile in problem after problem and they keep it rolling by collecting things, inside the barrel, that contributes to the overall project. The barrel keeps moving. The barrel can make strategic decisions, turn on a dime, can overflow or be nearly empty, yet with motion…applied force or friction keeps moving. Everyone can jump in the barrel.

Some people are the bullet, the ammunition. They are sharp, have a singular purpose. Although very effective, they can only perform the task given. These people may even be your secret genius. They can also put giant holes in your barrel. 

When you sit down to plan your day, are you the bullet or the barrel? Start there then you can move on to what is the most valuable use of your time.


There is a time to figure out your key players and that is now. Reach out for a consultation so we can help you move your business forward. Click Here.

Kelly O'Neill on EmailKelly O'Neill on InstagramKelly O'Neill on LinkedinKelly O'Neill on TwitterKelly O'Neill on Youtube
Kelly O'Neill
Kelly O’Neill is a digital marketing and IT consultant with over 25 years of experience working on remote projects. She is well-grounded in SEO, media buying, project management, and network security. Kelly shares her knowledge through consulting and blogging.

If you purchase anything through a link in this article, you should assume that I have an affiliate relationship with the company providing the product or service that you purchase, and that I'll be compensated in some small way at no extra cost to you.