How to Stay Organized When Freelancing
Freelancing can offer great benefits to individuals: the ability to work when you want, freedom to have as much time off as you want and to work wherever you want. However, in reality, it can be difficult to establish a proper routine, work/life balance and stay on top of deadlines. Organization is key when going freelance and these top tips will help to ensure that you are able to work towards your personal goals as well as those of your career.
Keep Track of Emails
When you are communicating with multiple clients and businesses, it can be difficult to keep track of your communication, especially via email, which can easily be lost or forgotten about. However, keeping track of your emails is important not only to establish a trustworthy relationship with your client but for your own peace of mind. The best way to keep track of your emails is to separate them into different, color-coded folders. This will allow you to find the correct correspondence from a certain client within seconds. You should also mark emails that need a reply as unread or color-code them separately as this will ensure that you keep track of which emails need a response.
Update Your Finances
Keeping ahead of your finances is not only important for personal planning but to ensure that you have the correct information available when you need to fill out your self-assessment tax return. You should keep an up-to-date spreadsheet of all your payments and business expenditure as this will help you to calculate tax and will enable you to provide evidence of your expenses if needed. If you find Excel spreadsheets confusing, you should consider downloading online book-keeping services, which often have a much simpler and easy-to-use interface, or hiring an accountant who can do all the hard work for you and ensure that your accounts are correct and updated regularly.
Ensure Payment is On-Time
Freelancing is a notoriously unstable business when it comes to payment, and you should ensure that you are paid within the agreed deadline, or when stated on your contract. Conversely, you can help speed up the payment process by sending accurate and simple invoices to your client. Invoices can be created on Excel, and you can often use templates on here which can automatically calculate your costs. If you are struggling to lay-out your invoice, you can create a free invoice online, which can be easily downloaded and printed. This will save you time by allowing you to simply fill in the relevant and already pre-created boxes.
Plan Your Time
Another important way to stay organized is to plan your time. Once you have found your clients, booking them in far in advance will help you to spread clients across the month. By keeping clients spread across a matter of weeks, this will enable you to have free time and ensure that you are not taking on too much work at once. This means that you can wholly focus on single jobs and ensure that you are producing the best work possible for every client while giving you enough time to stay healthy and have a work/life balance.
You should also schedule in blocks of free time for yourself. Unlike 9-5 jobs, you will not have an established holiday period and so you must force yourself to have time off – this will, in turn, benefit both your long-term productivity and mental well-being. As a freelancer, it is easy to focus on the work you will be missing by having time off – these clients will always need more work in the future, however, and giving yourself downtime will allow you to stay organized by creating a calmer and less chaotic work schedule. You can also use this free time to plan your upcoming jobs and check in with your progress on long-running projects.
Plan in Advance
Lastly, you should keep all of your notes and plan for projects in the same place, such as a notebook, scrapbook or even in a file on your computer. This will allow your entire vision for a project to be accessible and easy to find, allowing you to avoid last minute panics. Keeping documents tidy and filed can also help you to stay organized by creating a calmer atmosphere in your workplace, which in turn should increase your productiveness and creativity.
Organization as a freelancer is key. Without organization, it will be extremely difficult to stay up-to-date with projects and manage your workload. However, with these simple tips, you will be able to stay organized and so stay productive and well-focused.