Variety and a multitude of clients is both a blessing and a curse for the stressed out freelancer who is constantly pin-balling from customer to customer, balancing different deadlines and requirements. This is all part of the thrill that seduced you into abandoning the safety of your full-time employment routine in the first place though, right? However when you start to feel like a headless chicken chasing its tail feather, it’s time to reassess your approach and we’re here to point you in the right direction.
Whether you’re a self-employed sole trader, an instrumental part of an in-house team or the CEO of a huge multinational corporation, organisation is paramount. However, the ability to manage your professional priorities and organise your own personal time becomes ever more prevalent when it comes to freelancing. With a freelance career comes freedom and liberation from the constraints of employment but it also brings about an increased responsibility for your own productivity and efficiency. This can be challenging when you are juggling a number of clients but failing to strike the right balance can result in you damaging your reputation and even losing business as a direct consequence.
Keep a visual record of dates and deadlines
With the myriad of advanced gadgets and apps emerging every day, it can be easy to overlook the many benefits of a good old fashioned wall calendar. Sure, go ahead and set your high-tech reminders and tap all of your dates to remember into your smartphones and tablets but invest in a diary too. Document any important dates, unmissable deadlines and upcoming meetings on a calendar and pin it up in your workspace, then transfer the same information into a day-view diary which you can carry with you wherever you go. This means you will always have your schedule to hand and will therefore be able to organise your time much more successfully.
Forgotten anniversaries and belated birthdays over the years should have taught you by now that storing dates in your head is never going to end well. With so many other things to contend with, you can’t expect your brain to retain it all so make life easier for yourself by writing it down. Being able to see your schedule laid out in this visual way will give you a better handle on what you can and can’t take on. It will also enable you to devote a sufficient amount of time to each client so you aren’t over-investing in one and causing any others to suffer as a result.
Recognise and accept your limits
One of the biggest pieces of advice that we always give our freelance clients is that it is perfectly acceptable to say no when you feel you are already operating at full capacity. It is far better to satisfy a reasonable number of clients with your best work and have them return for a repeat performance than deliver a mediocre service to more customers who will likely be dissatisfied with the compromised outcome. Having the nouse to politely decline a job now, while you’re at your professional limits, will have more beneficial advantages in the long run than stressing yourself out and disappointing clients.
You’ll know you’ve reached this limit when you’re struggling to get the work completed that you need to, even though you’re already working more hours than you should be. Turning down business does seem to defy all forms of entrepreneurial logic and you may be thinking we have taken leave of our sense for even suggesting such a ridiculous idea. However, learning to recognise and accept your professional limits is an important part of becoming a successful freelancer and the sooner you master it, the better.
Consider outsourcing if you need to
As well as being able to recognise when you need to say no, it is also essential that you can reach out for help when you think you might need it. Freelancing can be a lonely business as the nature of the beast means you’re often working alone but this doesn’t mean you can’t recruit back up in particularly busy periods. As long as the client is getting a good quality service, in accordance with your core business values and in line with everything they have been promised, they aren’t going to care who carries out the hands-on day-to-day tasks. Outsourcing to fellow freelancers gives you the opportunity to support the industry you work in and also keep all of your clients simultaneously smiling and satisfied.