How to Stay Organized and Determine Priorities as a Freelancer
A freelance business can take off quickly. But if you’re not careful, you risk tackling too many projects at once. The result? You can work too much, resulting in exhaustion and other health problems. You risk falling behind on work, which can hamper your ability to keep your clients happy and grow your business.
Organization skills are key for freelancers. If you know how to stay organized, you can track work projects and complete them on schedule. You’re also well-equipped to set priorities and stick to them. And if you encounter roadblocks along the way, you can identify and address those issues before they cause immediate or long-lasting damage to your business.
The bottom line: if you’re a freelancer or aspire to become one, it pays to get organized. Now, let’s look at five tips to help freelancers stay organized and determine priorities.
1. Establish a Routine
The ideal routine for freelancers varies. It should help you remain focused and feel and perform your best. As such, it may take many days, weeks, or even months to craft an effective routine. Regardless, you should do your part to ensure your routine meets your expectations.
Get started on building a routine that works well for you. It often helps to look at your daily, weekly, and monthly work projects. From here, you can set up a schedule that helps you maximize your productivity.
In addition to establishing a routine, give yourself ample time to complete work projects over the course of each day. Set aside time for regular breaks throughout the day. You should also incorporate plenty of time into your schedule to do things you enjoy.
For instance, it can be beneficial to schedule social activities with family members and friends. This ensures you can detach from your work and focus on what’s most important during these activities: enjoy time with your loved ones. On the other hand, if you enjoy watching movies, jogging, or any other activities, include them in your weekly schedule. That way, you can look forward to many fun activities every week.
Evaluate and revamp your routine periodically. You can audit your routine to see how you’re using your time. Next, you can discover new ways to get the most value out of the time at your disposal.
2. Use Lists
A list can provide freelancers with a framework for long-lasting success. Some freelancers use lists to break work projects into digestible chunks. Others utilize lists to alleviate stress. Lists can even help you learn from your mistakes and prevent them from becoming recurring problems.
Integrate lists into your everyday work. Many tools are available to help you do this. For instance, you can leverage Smartsheet and similar tools to create and manage work tasks on a smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can use these tools to verify your tasks are completed on time, every time.
Also, if you use lists, learn the differences between urgent and important tasks. You can then distinguish urgent tasks from important ones on your lists.
An urgent task has an immediate deadline associated with it. Comparatively, an important task has a significant impact on a stakeholder. There may be times when tasks are urgent and important, urgent but not important, or important, but not urgent.
If you’re faced with many freelance tasks to complete at once, look at the deadlines associated with them. Consider each task’s impact on its stakeholders as well. Finally, determine which tasks are urgent, important, or both and prioritize them accordingly.
3. Track Your Thoughts and Ideas
Brainstorming is a must for freelancers. There is no telling when you may have a thought or idea that can help you become more productive than ever before. However, it can be difficult for freelancers to remember to track their thoughts and ideas, particularly if they are already dealing with a lot of work.
Keep track of thoughts and ideas that come up during your freelance career. If you have thoughts or ideas, write them down immediately. This ensures you won’t forget your thoughts or ideas. You can always review them at a later time and determine if they can be beneficial for your freelance business, too.
Oftentimes, it helps to carry a journal or notebook, as this lets you jot down thoughts or ideas whenever they crop up. You can use mind-mapping tools that can help you visualize your thoughts and ideas and generate insights from them.
4. Resist the Urge to Procrastinate
Procrastination can cause serious problems for freelancers. The longer you wait to complete a work project, the tougher it can be to get it done. In the worst-case scenario, you risk missing a deadline or failing to submit a project altogether. And this can damage your freelance business’ reputation long into the future.
If you accept a project, consider how long it will take to complete it. Then, figure out when you can complete the project in alignment with the rest of your schedule.
When it comes to avoiding procrastination and staying on track with work projects, tools like Harvest and Trello can help. Harvest lets you track the time you spend on work projects. It provides business analytics, which can show you where you’re wasting time and maximizing productivity. Meanwhile, Trello allows you to organize and review all of your work projects in a single location. You can use Trello to monitor your active projects, assess your progress, and ensure each one is completed in a timely fashion.
5. Develop and Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
Freelancers work hard, to the point where they may forget to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. In these instances, work can become overwhelming. It can cause freelancers to struggle to stay organized. Even worse, freelancers may be prone to stress, anxiety, depression, and other severe health issues.
If you experience any of the aforementioned problems, meet with a doctor. You and your doctor can then work together to find out why these issues are occurring. Plus, your doctor can help you develop and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
You need to remain patient and persistent as you figure out how to balance your professional and personal responsibilities. A trial-and-error approach can help you find a work-life balance that allows you to stay organized without compromising your health.
Generally, it helps to set time limits for work. Once you establish a daily work schedule, maintain it. Take breaks at different points throughout each workday. And when your workday ends, turn off your cell phone or any other devices that can otherwise distract you from taking care of yourself.
Do not hesitate to turn down freelance work projects, either. It can be tough to say no to work, but doing so can have positive effects on your health. Therefore, if you feel your freelance work is hampering your health, you can politely decline a project. This ensures you can stay focused on your current workload and ensure your clients’ needs are met. It also allows you to guard against fatigue, burnout, and other problems that can arise due to a poor work-life balance.
Get Organized and Determine Priorities for Your Freelance Business Today
Your ability to stay organized and determine priorities can have far-reaching effects on your freelance business. If you get organized, you’re well-equipped to identify and mitigate potential business problems before they escalate. Furthermore, you can position yourself to consistently fulfill clients’ work requests and grow your business.
Do your part to get organized and determine priorities for your freelance business. By doing so, you can take the next step forward in your freelance career.