Freelancing comes with enviable perks. From having unparalleled flexibility, an opportunity for higher pay, and the choice to pick only clients and work you want – it’s a wonderful experience which many people would love to do.
However, it’s not something anyone can pull off successfully. Outside of the 9-to-5 lifestyle which most of us are used to, the challenges of being a freelancer can work against you especially when you’re just starting out. If you’re not business savvy, have no clue how to handle entrepreneurial life, and have little to no self-discipline – things can go from bad to worse whilst building your freelance career.
Here are tips to make sure you stay organized:
Keep a Daily Schedule
When I first started freelancing, I had no real strategy when it comes to planning my schedule. I thought hard work was enough. So I worked night and day, on weekends, and sometimes even during sick days. This made me very exhausted, stressed, and angry. I started cramming, submitting poor quality work and eventually losing some of my good-paying clients. All of this could have been prevented if I had an efficient working schedule. When creating your schedule, make sure you do these three things:
1. List Your MIT
Think about what your perfect working day looks like. Then list three most important tasks you need to do for the day. Acknowledge that today you will do nothing else but complete those three tasks. When you’ve set your mind to this habit, your productivity will improve.
2. Track Your Time
I’ve only started tracking my time a year after I went freelance although I wish I did it sooner. When you’re tracking your time, you become mindful of how you spend the minutes and hours of your day. Without a clear visualization of how you spend your time, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and get out of track.
3. Batch Your Work
I’ve learned this the hard way. I thought when I was multi-tasking I was getting more done, but in all actuality, I’m making it harder for me to focus and complete tasks. The solution? Divide your day into chunks by choosing which projects you’d like to work on in the morning, afternoon, or night. You can put the hardest job in the morning when your willpower and energy is still at its highest peak and the easiest job at night or afternoon.
Separate Home and Office
Set aside a designated area for work. When you can’t afford to rent an office or find coffee shops too crowded, you can simply find a nice quiet spot at home.
Unlike working at an office with a boss and other employees, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have a life when you work at home. With the TV, PS4, and lots of digital distraction, it’s a fight to stay focused. However, you can solve this by simply choosing a smart spot for work.
My first work area at was in between the living room and the kitchen. When my family was watching TV, I could hear it. When someone’s cooking I could smell it. It was very distracting so I decided to move from that spot and bring my work desk inside my room. Now my desk is situated in my bedroom. Whenever I’m neck deep in work, I just close the door and I gain maximum privacy and concentration.
When you’re a freelancer working from home the hardest thing you have to do is avoid distraction. If you don’t have self-control, you could lose valuable hours, clients, and eventually money for your living expenses.
Don’t Commit to More Jobs Than You Can Handle
Juggling three clients is hard, how much more if you’re working with seven or ten? The secret to having steady work and good clients is to handle each project with care and professionalism. This means saying NO to work when you have your hands full. There’s no point in having multiple clients and juggling multiple projects if your work quality will suffer. Pushing yourself to your limits can make your work life chaotic and disorganized. And even if you’re earning more, you can’t feel fully satisfied since you’re always tired and stressed.
If you’re caught up with clients but don’t want to miss the opportunity of working for another good job, you can negotiate by asking the client for a lower workload. Instead of writing five articles a week, find clients who value time and quality and will allow you to work only 2-3 articles.
When you were an employee, you had a quota attached to your work. For every month, there was a specific number of articles/sales/time you had to finish. It was more than a guide, it was the rule. Failure to do this meant a red mark on your employee performance. If your boss had set unrealistic expectations, then you’re screwed. You’d be stressed, miserable, and wishing for a vacation ever single day of your work life.
Luckily you’re done with corporate chaos. Now you’re living by your own rules. That doesn’t mean you have to forget setting goals. Goals are like quotas – the difference is you get to decide for it yourself. You can lower or increase your quota, change it every month, or calculate the best average you can handle.
The best part? You don’t need a supervisor or boss to tell you otherwise. After all, there’s no one who knows your ability better than yourself. It’s you who can decide how much workload and hours in a day you can handle.
If you think freelancing is easy, think again. Besides the freedom you have, there is nothing really permanent in your work life. Today you may have plenty, tomorrow you can have none. You need to be comfortable with unpredictability and uncertainty. It’s the only way you can thrive.
Are you a freelancer? What other tips can you give our readers stay organized? Let us know in the comments.