Freelancing has great benefits. Freelancers can work where they want, set their own hours and choose which projects to work on. The flipside is that they are taking on more responsibilities, but fulfilling them will improve performance and increase income.
One of the most important aspects of being a freelancer is turning in projects on time. This strengthens a freelancer’s reputation and helps to maintain a good workflow, which will guarantee constant and increasing income.
How do successful freelancers do it? Here are some tips to increase productivity and income:
Mark a calendar and plan
Regardless of who is hiring you to work on a project, always ask what the latest possible deadline is before establishing the price and the project parameters.
Knowing the client’s deadlines allows a schedule to be set that works for both sides, and the freelancer only takes on the commitments they can handle. Here’s how to do that:
- Agree on a delivery date (a single deadline for the whole project or a series of deadlines for parts of the project).
- Mark the deadline(s) on a calendar.
- Determine the number of hours per day needed to finish the project on time and then set that number of hours aside each day until the deadline.
Whenever possible, turn in work before the deadline
One problem that tends to occur around the time of the deadline is when a client requests corrections or changes.
When establishing a deadline, add some extra time for changes and corrections, that way everything is turned in on time and according to the client’s requirements.
Here is an example:
- Once a clear deadline has been agreed on, turn in a rough draft beforehand.
- Come to an agreement on how many changes can be requested and the latest date requests can be made.
- Make sure the deadline allows enough time to make any changes and that it does not affect the final deadline.
A famous chef and TV personality once said, “Organisation will set you free.” Which is true. But this is easier said than done.
Freelancers are fully aware of the need to be organised but sometimes this is put on the back burner and, before they know it, a deadline is looming and they are only 20% done with the work.
In order to get organised, freelancers must know what they need to organise, what steps must be taken and how to take action.
When agreeing on deadlines, terms and so on, make notes of everything. Maintain transparency and clarity throughout the project and take as many notes as possible.
When organising the number of hours per day to be dedicated to a project, be realistic. Do not assign more hours than one can handle to avoid being overwhelmed, burnt out or giving in to the temptation of procrastination.
Eliminate distractions and focus
Prioritising based on deadlines is important. This means determining which projects are most important according to:
- Important project deliveries.
- Urgent project deliveries.
- Not urgent project deliveries.
Assign each project a priority level. If using a calendar, colour code each project and stage according to its priority, for example:
- Yellow for important.
- Green for urgent.
- Red for not urgent.
Create a colour coding system to help visualise which tasks need to be focused on.
It is also important to minimise distractions by scheduling a time to check social media, have fun with friends and family and so on.
That way, the work gets done during working hours, distractions are reduced, one stays organised and the work is handed in on time.
Tools to prioritise and stick to deadlines
There are many tools to help one organise one’s time and prioritise, including:
- Google Calendar: This is one of the best digital calendars because it helps to share tasks. It is essentially a built-in digital assistant that provides reminders for different team members and allows each member to easily track the progress of a project.
Tasks can be colour coded and reminders set with progressive warnings that will help maintain productivity for every project.
- Rescue Time: This is a time management app that helps determine whether or not an individual is avoiding distractions.
At the end of each day, Rescue Time provides a report analysing screen time, with how much time was spent on websites, social media and so. This provides enough information to make good decisions on screen time.
- Trello: With Trello, spreadsheets can be created with different colour coding options that will help better monitor the progress of projects, allowing them to be broken down into stages.
Trello also allows the creation of a checklist, organising tasks and sharing documents. It’s a great tool to use when working on a team.
Organising a team
The last recommendation is to organise a team to help get the project done. This will allow for the project to be organised in stages with a deadline for each stage.
Some freelancers may believe their income will decrease because they have to pay a team of workers, but keep these advantages in mind:
- Having a team will allow more time to connect with more clients and get hired for more projects, increasing one’s income.
- Bigger projects can be taken on for more money.
- A fixed price commitment is not necessary; a team can be formed for occasional work or a per-project payment agreement can be established.
These recommendations will help freelancers meet deadlines, improve performance and increase income.
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