As a freelancer, you may have various clients with different projects that require you to manage their deadlines to keep everything nice and easy.
It is usually a common occurrence that you find yourself among so many projects and don’t know where to start or how to deal with them. And you are reading this article because, deep inside, you also know that there is a solution for almost every obstacle.
Let’s now discover the nuts and bolts of how to manage your freelance projects!
Why Should You Manage Your Freelance Projects?
Around 67% of projects of organizations that undervalue project management as an essential element for driving change result in failure.
Freelancing and managing your project go together like peanut butter and jelly and you can’t effectively do the former without the latter.
When you start to manage your freelance projects, you will immediately realize that you are feeling less stress when completing each assignment.
Doing your projects without feeling the mental pressure of what if you can’t finish them in time, leads to meeting the deadlines in a smoother way.
This can lead to client satisfaction at the end of the day and can turn out to guarantee that you get more projects from this collaboration later in the future.
12 Proven Tips to Manage Your Freelance Projects More Efficiently
Let’s now see the ways you can increase your efficiency by managing your freelance projects.
1. Use a Project Management Tool
There are zero repercussions when using a tool for managing your freelance projects.
The reason is that a free agile project management tool will only help you become more organized and punctual in delivering your freelance projects. Compare all available freelance project management software and choose according to your needs.
So, there will be no factor or barrier that undermines your workflow or hinders your collaborations with your clients. You will know the status of each project and you will never miss following up for feedback from your clients.
In addition, you will have better control over sending your invoices on time as you know which projects have been completed.
2. Set Reasonable Deadlines
To make your clients happy with the results of your collaboration, you must set reasonable deadlines for each project and assignment. If you don’t set deadlines, you will probably leave them for the last minute, and given that you may have several projects, they can’t work out well in the end.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to ask for deadline extensions if you can’t finish the projects by their due dates. However, it is more professional not to do that.
To avoid asking for deadline extensions, you can discuss the reasonable amount of time that you need with each client in advance. When an agreement is reached, you can set those deadlines and then spend that time delivering the project perfectly on time.
3. Set Priorities
If you have several projects, you can’t spend time on all of them evenly. Doing several tasks simultaneously would make you lose focus on them and even feel like you are discouraged as they would seem never-ending.
To differentiate which project is prior to the others is something you should be able to do as you know your clients better than anyone else. For instance, if they are big companies with a serious workflow, you should set their projects as a priority.
4. Divide Projects into Chunks
When you know which project to start your month with, you should first divide it into smaller chunks. Doing so allows you to do the task without being overwhelmed or being stuck at a point where you are actually doing nothing as you don’t know where to start.
Depending on what kind of freelance job you do, you can break your projects into smaller tasks and then do them one by one.
5. Do One Thing at a Time
The most basic habit you can develop to keep your concentration is to stop doing several things simultaneously. As mentioned earlier, focusing on only one task per project would affect your productivity significantly. Therefore, you can meet your deadlines more seamlessly.
Recent estimates are that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity if you multi-task. In addition, when multitasking, you keep switching from tasks to tasks and that can lead to so many unfinished tasks.
So, you not only have many unfinished tasks that can affect the delivery date, but you also find yourself burned out, frustrated, agitated, and unfulfilled.
6. Start with the Challenging Tasks
After you have divided your projects into smaller tasks, start to do the most challenging tasks first. When the harder part is done, you will do the easy part amazingly faster.
Plus, doing the harder part first would give you a sense of self-appreciation as you feel like you have accomplished something difficult. And that can be the fuel for the rest of your day.
7. Track your Time
Setting timers and time limits would insanely increase your productivity. If you have ever heard of the Pomodoro Technique, you are most probably already benefiting from this increased productivity. This technique is especially helpful for ADHDers as well.
The Pomodoro Technique is a time management strategy based on 25-minute stretches of focused work broken by five-minute breaks. Each round includes four consecutive work intervals. Every interval in this technique is referred to as a “pomodoro,” derived from the Italian word for tomato. This term originates from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo, the inventor of this method, used during his university studies.
You can take longer breaks if you are tired or distracted, typically from 15 to 30 minutes, after four consecutive work intervals.
8. Choose the Right Working Environment
Since you are a freelancer, there is no office to work in. Therefore, you should make sure that you are working in an environment that doesn’t erode your productivity.
If you work more efficiently in silence, sit in a silent room with almost zero noise or disturbance. Quite the contrary, if you should listen to music while working, play some lo-fi music and keep yourself focused.
You can also consider going to libraries, workspaces, cafés, or open spaces to have a better concentration.
9. Do Self-Care
The main difference between a 9 to 5 job and a freelance job is that you have more flexibility in where and when to work. However, probably the biggest drawback of working freelance is that there is no fixed salary credited to your bank account every month regardless of the number of hours you actually worked, and you only get paid for the amount of time you work.
No matter if you are a freelancer or an office worker, the bills and expenses are always there for you to pay. That can be a stressful burdening concern at the back of your mind, and it is understandable.
But worrying actually intensifies the pressures that you feel. Therefore, you should always do some self-care activities to maintain your physical and mental health.
You can think of reading a book, doing yoga or meditation, listening to calming music, cooking, knitting or doing any other handicrafts, playing a musical instrument, or anything that revitalizes your energy.
10. Say ‘No’ Fearlessly
If the client is asking for something that is not in your area of expertise, or if they are making unreasonable last-minute changes that you can’t handle, say ‘No’ to them.
Sometimes, clients are very annoyingly demanding in a way that they drain all your energy for the rest of your projects. In those cases, you are better off letting them go.
But if they make requests from time to time and not on a regular basis, or they mention things that they genuinely forgot to mention during your negotiations, you can simply drop it and do as they wish.
If you really can’t accept what they are suggesting, you should say ‘No’ strategically in order not to lose your client.
For instance, you can transparently explain why you think that can’t be a good idea to make changes. You can also convince them with actual data that it will be more profitable for them if they do the project your way.
11. Outsource Projects
If you are well-established in your freelancing career and have a lot of good clients, you surely have a lot of projects – probably way more than you can handle.
In such cases, you can think of outsourcing your projects. Decide who will be the person/people to do your tasks. You can choose them from the people in your network and then see if you can trust them to do quality work over time.
Another option is that you choose people from freelancing websites such as Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, and the like.
12. Keep Track of Invoicing
While freelancing offers the freedom to focus on your craft, it also requires you to pay attention to the business side of your projects. One critical aspect of this is keeping track of your invoicing.
Proper invoicing not only ensures you get paid promptly but also contributes to a more organized and financially stable freelance career.
By staying on top of your invoicing, you not only ensure a steady cash flow but also establish yourself as a reliable and professional freelancer. This financial stability will enable you to focus on your freelance projects without unnecessary distractions or financial worries.
If you want to learn how to effectively handle your finances as a freelancer, read the following article.
To excel in invoicing for your freelance projects, consider the following tips:
Set Clear Payment Terms
Right from the beginning of your freelance project, establish transparent payment terms with your client. Do that in the initial negotiations so that everything is transparent from the start. Specify when and how you expect to be paid for your work. This clarity helps prevent misunderstandings and late payments, resulting in a happy collaboration.
Understanding invoicing payment terms is also crucial for establishing clear communication with clients.
Use Professional Invoicing Software
Invest in invoicing software or templates for freelancers that give your invoices a professional look. These tools often come with features like automated reminders for unpaid invoices, making it easier to manage your finances.
One great invoicing app you can use is Billdu. Billdu keeps your freelance business organized and accessible. Depending on your needs, you can choose to have advanced features that help your business scale easily, in-app or online. If you don’t want to be constantly worried about remembering to send your regular invoices to a customer, this app is the best assistance.
Create Detailed Invoices
Create invoices that include a breakdown of the services rendered, the agreed-upon rates, and the total amount due. Clearly label any additional charges, such as expenses or revisions outside the initial scope of work.
Set Up a Consistent Invoicing Schedule
Establish a regular invoicing schedule, whether it’s bi-weekly, monthly, or project-based. Remember to negotiate this with your clients before you start the projects. Consistency helps you stay organized and ensures that you don’t forget to bill for your work.
Send Invoices Promptly
Don’t delay sending invoices. As soon as you complete a milestone or project, send out the invoice. Timely invoicing increases your chances of receiving payments on time.
Follow Up on Unpaid Invoices
If a client hasn’t paid within the previously negotiated timeframe, try not to take it personally first. Look positively at the matter and see the probability that they could just have forgotten as they have been busy or they have been dealing with several freelancers.
Then, send polite payment reminders. Keep your tone professional, but be assertive in pursuing what you’re owed. That’s your money and it has to be paid. Discover the importance of a payment reminder system in your business.
Maintain a well-organized record of all your invoices, payments received, and outstanding balances. This documentation is crucial for tax purposes and financial planning.
Consider Payment Methods
Offer several payment methods to make it convenient for your clients to settle invoices. Popular methods include bank transfers, PayPal, or credit card payments.
Freelancing gives you a lot of elbow room to live your life the way you want and that is valuable. To take good control over your freelancing projects, you should manage them tactfully.
The above 12 tips allow you to reduce burnout and maximize productivity while keeping your clients happy. Wish you the best of luck!
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