This is our final installment of The Practical Guide: Freelancing! Check out the rest of our Freelancing mini-series here:
Organizing Your Time
Ideally, you will get to the point when you will have so many job offers that organizing your time will be something that needs to take priority. Even if you don't have jobs coming in left, right, and centre, organizing yourself is still a crucial part of working freelance.
Most of your work is likely going to be conducted from home. This means that you don't have a boss looking over your shoulder or a clock on the wall that tells you how many hours you're supposed to work for and when you're allowed to take breaks. You have to be both your own boss and your own employee.
Here are a few things to keep you on track:
1) Dress for work. Sometimes I like working in pajama pants at home, and I manage to turn out some excellent material in my comfy clothes (like right now! ). But when I first started working from home, I found that dressing as though I were going to the office helped me to really focus. I'm still only at the beginning stages, so I sometimes like to wear office-appropriate clothing at home as a way to get myself in the right frame of mind.
2) Watch the clock. Always keep a timer close by! Time how long it takes you to do your work. Set yourself a time limit and make sure that you work for a certain period of time before you let yourself stop for a break. Schedule breaks, too: get out of the house every day for a walk to clear your mind and to get fresh air. Don't overwork yourself! Down time is just as important as working, especially when it comes to turning out the best quality.
3) Set goals. In the morning, decide how much you want to accomplish by the end of the day, and then follow through and complete that much. Over time, your accuracy at how long it takes to complete a project will improve.
4) Keep your employer/client updated. At the beginning of the project, give them an estimate of how long you think it will take for you to complete the project, and an idea of the fees you will be looking at. Discuss what the deadline is. Then, as you work on the project, send them the work you have completed at various stages to ensure that it is the style they are after. Communication is essential, particularly because you will likely be doing most of your correspondence via e-mail and phone. You need to keep each other updated as to where you're at, what can be improved, and to make sure that you're both going in the same direction.
5) Clean house. If your workspace is untidy, you won't be able to be as productive as you will if everything is in its proper space. Set aside a specific area for you to work at in your house. Clean it at least once in a week and organize all papers and documents.
6) Write lists. Keep track of all of your projects by writing them all down in one place and making a note of when your deadlines are. A big calendar with large squares for writing notes would be perfect for keeping your freelancing gigs organized (it's what I do and it's wonderful). Failing that, a little notebook or the calendar on your phone/computer can also work.
Chime in with your own suggestions for organization in the comments section below!