How To Manage Your Workload As A Freelancer

In recent years, an increasing number of American workers have been leaving corporate cubicle gigs and starting freelance careers. It’s not just the freedom and flexibility that inspires people to branch out on their own. Many of today’s independent contractors didn’t exactly opt for a freelance lifestyle, but rather, started working at home after their employer closed shop or reduced their workforce to save money.

While there is a lot of freedom in being self-employed, a disorganized contractor can easily become overwhelmed and over-worked. The way you manage your workload could be the difference between a lucrative freelance career and a ticket back to cubicle-land.


Email Organization

Email can be a freelancer’s best friend and biggest foe. Corresponding this way provides you with a paper trail of crucial information like due dates and project requirements. By assigning a unique folder to each client and another unique folder for individual assignments, you’re less likely to lose important messages, which can result in producing a half-fulfilled assignment or missing a deadline for an early draft.

However, email was never designed to be a collaborative workspace. While it’s great for making appointments and confirming the terms of a project, when it’s actually time to submit drafts and get feedback, corresponding via email can be awkward and unwieldy.

Top Tools

When your work involves back and forth with clients and colleagues, emails and conference calls alone won’t be sufficient. That’s when it’s time to utilize apps and programs that help simplify your assignments.

  • Basecamp is a web-based project management tool that allows you to keep track of and share information. You can store and search discussions and feedback, set up to-do lists and upload files.
  • Dropbox is a cloud storage, file hosting and syncing service. It’s uncomplicated and more convenient for when you need clients to have easy access to documents for review. It’s also useful for when you need access to your files on the go since it syncs whenever an internet connection is present, making your work available even when you’re not in a Wi-Fi hotspot.

workload management

Workload Management

One of the most challenging problems you may face as a freelancer is managing your workload. Without proper scheduling skills, you may find yourself feeling overworked and unable to keep track of daily tasks. This guide to managing your workload series suggests using an app like Remember the Milk, which allows you to create a prioritized task list. You can also integrate this program with your email and Twitter accounts to initiate reminders.

Acknowledge When You’re Overworked

It might be tempting to accept every new assignment you’re offered. The truth is, your work will suffer if you inundate yourself with assignments you don’t have time to complete. Turning away a new client may put you at risk for losing some future work offers, but on the other hand, taking an assignment that you don’t have time for can result in turning in sub-par work and losing that client permanently. By owning up to your tight schedule, there’s a chance the client will be willing to postpone the deadline. But if not, it shows that your services are in demand.

Luke Clum

Luke Clum is a graphic designer and web developer from Seattle. He loves UI design, alpine climbing and the soothing splash of earl grey. You can follow him on Twitter @lukeclum.

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