Working in freelance can feel like juggling all your priorities at once. Freelancers are responsible for managing their business, sourcing their projects, and maintaining a steady stream of projects to meet their financial goals. It might feel a bit wonky at first, and you’ll need to work on finding your flow. While it may be tempting to work on each project one at a time, it’s not necessarily going to work that way with individual client deadlines. So how do you go about managing multiple freelance projects at once?
When sourcing new projects, there’s the desire to maximize on opportunities (and money). You never know when your next project will come along, so don’t let this chance pass you by! While that’s a nice sentiment, it’s simply not realistic. If you take on every project that comes your way, you’ll start cutting corners and producing sub-par work. Be disciplined when accepting clients and take stock of what you can realistically commit to. You’ll be less frazzled and you can focus on delivering a high-quality product.
Take Stock of Your Workload
Take a moment to assess what's on your plate. What projects have you committed to and what are their deadlines? You’ll want to take a good look at the big picture and factor in how everything will fit in with everything else in the limited time you're working within.
What Activities Go Into Each Project
Keep in mind what projects are on the docket and be sure to have their relative deadlines established. Start breaking down each one of these activities into its composite parts to get a realistic understanding of the work involved. The goal is to identify each item on your list with no ambiguity and to reduce the risk that you’ll forget something in the mix. The more detailed you can get with steps, the more you’ll be able to plan your day out. Include emails, phone calls, basic administrative planning.
Map Out Your Time
For me, this was the biggest organizational game-changer. Once all of the individual activities you have to complete are written out, take a moment to assign time-values to each one. Maybe you need to develop a graphic in Canva: how long will that graphic realistically take? Do this practice for each activity on your list. If you’re unsure how long it takes to complete an action, try using a time tracking app. As a bonus, this is a great exercise for learning about areas where you can improve your productivity.
Once you can visualize the amount of time each project will require, start mapping it out on your calendar. Set time blocks for each activity, with appropriate buffers for breaks, and prioritize them with their deadlines in mind. Having a visual of how to break up your day will help keep productive and on-task. You may even find you have the capacity for more projects!
Communicate With Relevant Parties
As your schedule starts to take shape, you can give some realistic feedback to your clients about your deadlines. You may find that you have overcommitted and need to extend a due date. The sooner you can communicate these realities, the better. As you get into the flow of things, you’ll be better able to recognize when you do have availability for projects. You’ll also be quicker at delivering time estimates for clients - a valuable skill in freelancing. Just remember that no one likes a surprise, and the more you communicate with your client, the more at ease they’ll be.
Staying organized as a freelancer will set you up for success and ensure your productivity. Taking a few extra steps to visualize the extent of your projects will help in your time-management and ensure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Familiarizing yourself with the pace at which you work will also illuminate your capacity for taking on new projects.