Anybody who has been in the realm of working freelance can understand the difficulty of time management. Especially when you are younger there is a greater feeling of longevity for the daylight hours with plenty of time for activities. But as you gather more work and the process becomes longer, it takes a bit of planning to ensure everything can be done on time.
This article is helpful regardless if your work involves translating, writing, designing, marketing, coding, or any other similar freelancing skill. I want to present a few ideas for managing heavy workloads. I think this is just as important today because freelancers are also often working on their own projects. These could be technologically based ideas, or really anything often geared towards a successful business model. These are just ideas which have helped me and can hopefully inspire others to follow their own paths.
Take Breaks and Rest
Resting is a topic that is possibly overstated or understated depending on your work environment. But I do feel that walking away from your work at least once or twice per day is crucial. Possibly more if you get the chance!
When your mind is immersed in complicated algorithms or design ideas, it can be tough breaking away. Make sure that you can always step aside and clear your mind from all the common everyday stressors. Even just put on some music and zone out for a bit.
One other important aspect with taking breaks is getting enough sleep. Freelancers and many other technical workers can end up falling into a poor sleep habit. This can ruin your health and even degrade the quality of your work. Now sleep obviously differs between each person, so anywhere from 6-8 hours would be the best possibility. Find a schedule that works for you and stick to it.
Obviously keeping yourself organized is one important facet of freelancing. Managing a small to-do list with sections for different clients or projects will be a challenge. But another big part of this tasks list is organizing the goals you need to complete into reasonable chunks. Each set of to-dos should be be something you may complete within a day. Or maybe even 2-3 days, but forcing out a weeks worth of work for 1 task is not great for productivity.
And you do not need to be completing 3 or 4 things all at once. Even just finishing a single task in 24 hours would be moving forward. Organization should be up to you and how you feel best when completing something important. But it should be mentioned that gratification comes after really completing something, not just checking off some task on a list. So it will be noticeable when you craft a to-do list filled with silly chores! Ensure that everything is organized sensibly so that you can be proud of the work you’ve accomplished each day.
Turning Down Work
It may seem against principle, but sometimes you just have to tell a client that you cannot take on the extra work. No matter how much you may need the money. If something isn’t realistic you have to be firm and work around your limitations. Learning how to gauge your workflow is an important part of being a freelancer.
Clients are expecting creative workers to understand their limits and let them know when another idea would be too much to handle. It is very common that freelancers take on more than they can manage, and it never ends well for either party. The best case scenario is churning out a decent amount of work which was slightly rushed. Or you eventually have to push out deadlines, which may end up cancelling the project altogether.
If you can be reasonable and upfront with potential clients then you will never find yourself backed into a corner. When first getting started this can be a challenge, especially if you have never met a limit to your work potential. But over time it will become obvious to yourself after gaining some experience. Just remember that you are the expert in the field, and the client is hiring your for your knowledge and expertise.
Budget Time for Your Goals
One final aspect I want to discuss is taking away some time for yourself. Freelancers are not always interested to keep up with this profession for another decade, two decades, 30+ years. It is a very stressful yet rewarding profession. But with that said, it is not for everybody. Thus I often find that freelancers who are bogged down with tons of work never get out of the rut and figure out what they truly want to build.
It is vital that you spend some time thinking critically about what you would want to do, or create, or build. Developers and designers generally have the skills to launch their own website online and manage a company of any niche. The Internet allows you to connect with consumers and possible customers all around the globe. So now is the best time for planning your own ideas and testing the waters in-between a hectic freelance schedule.
I would say a good rule of thumb is to include this excess time within your freelancing schedule. Do not take more projects that would interfere with your own work time, and try to keep a set of priorities for your own personal work. This can be a new startup company or product being sold online. Or any number of other similar creative ideas. But ultimately this passion can be a motivation to keep forging ahead through your work and managing larger projects over time.
No matter how you slice it, the job of freelancing is tough. It may require times of drought with very little work, followed by other times where you are flooded. Be sure to always keep your cool and manage yourself steady throughout these time periods. Also be sure to keep in control at times where you are stressed or nervous about deadlines. Making sure that your emotions do not affect quality should be of the utmost importance.
Although I have been freelancing for many years, these are not the only techniques which can work. I have learned by studying what others do and practicing similar ideas in my own life. It would be fun to hear other ideas or suggestions for managing larger bouts of freelance work, and similarly finding the extra time to push out releases on side projects.