Freelancing can be a bit of a juggling act. Because you’re working for multiple clients (if all goes well!), you may find you have a lot of competing deadlines, meetings, and administrative tasks to manage. Freelancing can only be a sustainable career option (whether you’re doing it part-time or full-time) if you’re able to manage your workload properly. Not only does that involve staying on top of all client work, but taking care of your wellbeing too. Burnout can happen in any career path, but especially when you don’t have a manager to turn to when you need help weighing your priorities or need another teammate to step in and help you. Keep reading to learn how you can build healthy daily habits when self-employed.
Find an organization system
Staying organized as a freelancer comes with a unique set of challenges. Not only do you need to balance the needs and deadlines of multiple clients, but you need to remember all of their account logins, invoicing preferences, and preferred communication methods. It’s enough to make your head spin — and those are just a few examples of the minute details you may need to remember to keep clients happy. Which is why, you really need to find an organization system that works for you.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when creating your organization system.
- Do you prefer digital calendars or paper calendars?
- How will you remind yourself of assignment due dates in a way that gives you time to complete them in a stress-free way?
- How will you store important account info?
- How will you make sure you don’t take on too many assignments at the same time?
Set expectations and boundaries that work for you
The first few weeks of any new job (even freelance ones) are super overwhelming, so it’s understandable if your healthy daily habits slip a little during this time. It’s a hectic time! Their digital filing system is a maze you can’t find your way out of. There are too many coworkers to keep track of. Basically, you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.
Then one day, everything falls into place. Next thing you know, you’re in charge of training new employees. Unfortunately, freelancing can make it feel like you have a lot of first days. Some clients will be a more natural fit than others. To speed up those awkward early days, it helps to have a thorough on boarding process and to set expectations and boundaries with your clients. These processes will vary greatly depending on what type of freelance business you run. A corporate consultant will have vastly different needs than someone who moonlights as an entertainer for children’s birthday parties.
It’s important that you set expectations and help create processes and systems that work best for you during the on boarding process instead of waiting.
Learn how to say no
We’re guessing that at this point you’ve set some freelancing goals for yourself. If not, we dive deep into how to set effective freelancing goals in our course All About the Hustle: Freelancing Demystified. Alongside providing you with direction and focus, goals can also help empower you to say no when you need to. Freelancing has a lot of ups and downs. While that’s half the fun, the downs can leave you feeling insecure at times. Don’t feel guilty about this! All freelancers experience doubt from time to time. When that doubt becomes a problem is when it leads you to say yes to everything. Yes to every assignment. Yes to too tight of deadlines. Yes to low rates. Yes to being available at a moment’s notice. Yes to working overtime. Yes to following all of their processes and none of your own.
If you say yes to everything, chances are you’ll end up overscheduled, overtired, and just plain over it. Next time you feel pressured to say yes to something when your heart is telling you to say no, circle back to your goals. Then ask yourself the following questions:
- Will saying yes make a real impact towards hitting these goals?
- Will saying yes hurt my goals in the short or long term?
- Will my other client work suffer by me saying yes?
- Am I willing to lose the client if they can’t take no as an answer? (if they can’t, you may have cause to reconsider the relationship anyways)
- Even if I want to say no, will saying yes be worth it in the end?
Now, take all of your responses into consideration!
Being a freelancer requires constant decision making. Over time, you’ll learn to trust your gut and will have the resources and confidence you need so that you won’t feel like you have to say yes to every single client request. If you’re still on the fence after answering those questions, here is a cheat sheet that will help you know if saying no is the way to go.
Say no if…
- The client mistreats you (send them packing!)
- If you’ll have to compromise your physical or mental health in any way (no all-nighters!)
- The rate is too low (know your worth!)
- Your schedule really can’t accommodate it
- If you won’t be able to do your best work
Manage competing deadlines properly
Having a lot of deadlines as a freelancer is a good thing. A great thing really! But when you’re jumping between assignments, trying to manage multiple projects and clients at the same time, things can get really hectic really fast. Some weeks are simply going to be busier than others and there may not be much you can do about that. But to make sure you can get everything done, even when you have multiple competing deadlines, you need to have a good plan in place. This starts with following all of the advice you’ve reviewed in this chapter so far.
- Remember your goals
- Learn to say no
- Keep organized
- Set boundaries and expectations
Now that you have the building blocks that will hopefully help you avoid over scheduling in the first place, you can spend more time focusing on developing the healthy daily habits that will help you find balance.
Stay tuned for our upcoming course—All About the Hustle: Freelancing Demystified—where you’ll find a handy planner template to help you keep track of all of your deadlines and create healthy daily habits!