Those new to freelancing often tend to think that working as your own boss means having much more free time than you had as an employee. This couldn’t be less true – yes, you have the freedom to tailor a time schedule suited to your specific needs, but as a freelancer you obviously have a lot more responsibility as well. The feeling that everything depends on oneself leads to putting a lot of hours in and often struggling with your workload.
In fact, a recent survey over at www.freelancermap.com shows that the majority of freelancers work more hours than they previously did as employees. To be a successful freelancer, you need to be able to cope with your workload and find that perfect balance between working too little and far too much. Here are a few tips for finding that golden middle.
1) Learn to say no
Learning to refuse projects is not the first thing that pops into the mind of most people when considering the skillset needed to be a great freelancer. However, knowing how and when to say no is vital for coping with your workload. When given the opportunity, you should always try to pick a project that you feel excited about. Taking mediocre projects just because you need the money is bound to happen now and then, but overworking can hurt your career badly. Turning in sloppy work because you had too little time on your hands is definitely not going to do you any favors either. So be realistic about how much work you can actually do and stick to that amount.
2) Set priorities
When working on multiple projects setting your priorities correctly can mean all the difference in the world. The most urgent tasks are the ones that are due earliest. In order to not rush things right before the deadline, always prioritize projects that have to be completed first. The second most important aspect is going to be the task’s size. Large projects are intimidating and it’s easy to fall into the trap of postponing them. Breaking them down into a list of smaller tasks and possibly assigning each task an estimated value will do wonders for coping with your workload.
3) Communicate your schedule
Sooner or later most of you are going to face that client who seems to think that you can work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week just for him. When faced with an overwhelming workload the worst thing you can do is just grit your teeth and go through with it. Again, rushing your work and producing low-quality results will never be worth it in the long run. So take the reasonable path instead and communicate with your clients. Explain to them that you work on other projects or that you can’t realistically manage what they want from you in the given time. But don’t stop there, make a counter proposal. Show your potential clients that you want to work for them by offering a reduction of the workload or a deadline extension.
4) Avoid distractions
Last, but not least it’s those two words you hear most often but are always easier said than done – avoid distractions. Especially when working from home, time-consuming dangers lurk around every corner. There are plenty of ways to keep you from procrastinating, but there will always be something you can spend your time on other than work. Ultimately, the best way to avoid putting off your work and getting distracted is to simply really like what you do. Think about why you got into freelancing in the first place and keep your eyes on the goal. Pick great, interesting projects which can take your business further and keep you motivated. Being in love with your work is really the greatest way to avoid distractions and cope with your workload.