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Top 5 Project Management Hacks Every Freelancer Should Know

Jun 3, 2021
(updated: Jan 16, 2023)
Lesson duration: 5 min

If you come from the vast domain of vast “contract-work” possibilities, i.e. freelancing, and efficient project management is not your forte yet then you have come across this write-up at the right time. 

Project management can drain even the most seasoned project managers and freelancers, so it’s no surprise that you’re already reeling under the pressure of - 

Giving regular feedback, time tracking, adhering to deadlines, generating invoices, maintaining communication, and checking the project progress, to name a few. 

You are a freelancer; your own boss. Just like everything else in this world, being your own boss has its pros and cons. The key to being a successful freelancer who can handle projects like a pro lies in tackling these roadblocks smartly to pave way for a smooth road ahead. 

So, what are some common roadblocks that freelancers face while working on projects? And, is there a potential solution to overcome them? Read this article right till the end and you’ll have a clear roadmap for efficient (and successful) project management

Common Challenges Freelancers Face During Project Management 

Managing projects, or even your workload, will never be a bed of roses. As mentioned above, there are many challenges. 

These challenges are a big reason that result in every six projects costing more than 200 percent of the estimated amount and almost 70 percent of IT projects face project delays (source- Harvard Business Review). 

  • Accurate time tracking 
  • Project scheduling 
  • Managing projects on the go 
  • Scope creep 
  • Setting clear goals and realistic deadlines  
  • Maintaining seamless collaboration with clients
  • Jumping back and forth between different apps 

Top 5 Project Management Hacks For Freelancers 

There’s a BIG difference between working hard and working SMART. Even if you are putting in a lot of effort, but the way you are managing your work is hampering the amount and quality of outcomes you are yielding, then it is time you switch to smart work.

I would like to share the top five project management hacks that are delivering great results for freelancers, especially those who are relatively new to contract work. Implement these proven hacks and there are strong chances that managing projects would be one of the USPs in your resume sooner than later. 

1. Create A Project Scheduling Calendar

As Stephen Covey aptly put it, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities.” Having a project schedule in place will help you keep your events, tasks, and milestones organized in one place. Freelancers can stay on top of their schedule with automatic reminders for events, milestones, recurring events, and tasks. 

A project calendar gives you a bird’s eye view of all your calendar data across all projects. A calendar for project management will help you keep your project on track and make sure that you meet deadlines. Most importantly, a digital project calendar will help you monitor your project’s progress continuously. 

2. Find A Reliable Way To Track Time

I guess no words can be enough to stress the importance of using time efficiently during project management. Every project comes with a deadline, which has to be met to keep the clients satisfied. To be a good project manager as a freelancer, you should know how much of your time is being spent on every task that you perform. 

Using a good time tracking tool will help you set the start and dues dates of tasks, and record the time spent on doing those tasks with the help of automatic or manual timers. The time tracking tool can help freelancers to accurately bill their clients and eliminate low-priority tasks that consume most of their time. 

3. Create A SOW (scope of work) Document  

The Scope of Work document is perhaps the most important document that freelancers need to create and follow earnestly. The SOW document contains the milestones, deliverables, and objectives of the project along with the work that you are expected to perform within the project. This document is also like an agreement between the freelancers and their clients about the project work. 

SOW documents are important in the sense that clients cannot change the project requirements once the project work has been started. Also, it’s a common scenario where clients ask for many revisions to be done to the project without bearing the extra costs. Having a SOW document ensures that you can avoid looping through multiple revisions that can reduce your earnings.

4. Prioritize Communication With Clients

Maintaining seamless communication is perhaps the most vital factor that determines whether or not you will be able to successfully deliver projects as expected. Any freelancer would need to interact with clients regularly to give updates, share suggestions, and receive feedback. Use a good project management software platform with in-built group chat. This will make two-way communication easier as both parties can send and receive messages instantaneously. 

Not all ideas and feedback need to be shared via emails; they can get lost in the inbox that is already overloaded. Using multiple communication tools (chat, email, text, video conferencing) will eliminate unrealistic expectations and misunderstandings while fostering transparency. This will be, all in all, a perfect solution to keep you and your client on the same page. 

5. Eliminate Distractions 

Freelancers can work from anywhere, anytime, but there are distractions that can hamper your productivity big time. Most freelancers work from home amid distractions. Family members talking, kids playing, phone calls, pets, visitors arriving, and domestic chores are probably the biggest distractions that every freelancer has to deal with efficiently to stay productive. 

However, you can eliminate distractions by: 

  • Using noise-cancelling headphones
  • Having a dedicated workspace at home
  • Turning off notifications from social media accounts
  • Taking short breaks at regular intervals
  • Dedicating a time slot to check emails and social media accounts
  • Letting your friends and family know about your work schedule so they know when you’re available and when not

The Final Word

Freelancing is a lucrative career option for those who want to work at their own pace. However, this field is extremely competitive and it’s not easy to win the trust and confidence of clients unless your track record is positive and productive. 

To be a top freelancer, you need to have a strong hold over project management. The tips that I’ve provided in this post will help you hone your project management skills. The more clients you satisfy with your quality work, the more work you will get. 

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