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As any freelancer will tell you, there are many benefits to being in charge of your own business. From choosing your own hours to working from the comfort of your home, there’s no doubt that it’s a great way to work.

But it’s important to stay organised. If you let things slip you could soon find yourself missing deadlines, carrying out substandard work, or even losing clients.

So to give you a push in the right direction, we’ve put together our top tips on staying organised.


Don’t take on too much work

It can be hard to turn down new clients or contracts, particularly when you’re just starting out. However, if you don’t learn to say no you could find yourself snowed under and struggling to get the work finished.

Until you are comfortable with how many simultaneous projects you can handle, it is better to conservative with your workload. If this feels counter-productive, remember that producing consistent work to deadline now will pay dividends when it comes to getting repeat business.


Stay on top of emails

There’s nothing more de-motivating than an inbox stuffed full of unread emails. You’ll feel overwhelmed every time you check your mail, and the longer you leave it, the worse it will get.

Try to read and reply to emails as they come in, or dedicate a set time each day to check in with your inbox.

It’s also a good idea to file emails away into relevant folders. That way you’ll be able to find emails easier, and it will give you a mental boost when you see a nice, clean, empty inbox.


Be vigilant with your calendar

With products such as Google Calendar and Apple’s iCal, there really is no excuse for not having your days down in digital form. And things get even more productive when you sync the calendar on your phone to that of your desktop. Wherever you are, you’ll know what’s coming up.

With all that said, some freelancers still swear by a traditional wall planner. If that’s your thing, consider snapping a pic of it on your phone before a client meeting on on-site – you can quickly check your commitments on the fly that way.

Keep track of your time

Although it might seem overly pedantic to log all of your working hours, it’s an essential part of keeping tabs on project costs and for assessing your work output.

Fortunately, there is a whole bunch of excellent project management tools that will help you to keep tabs on your time. Here are three of our favourites:

  • Harvest: simple, straightforward, and good value
  • Accelo: great for those who like things automated
  • Mavenlink: a time-tracking tool with all the bells and whistles


Consider a project management tool

With some clients, you might have various different specialists working alongside you to get a project completed. While email communication is okay, it doesn’t give you an instant top-down view of everything that is going on. And if you are the project lead, things can quickly unravel unless you’re organised.

There’s an entire industry built on project management solutions, and you could spend hours researching the options. As a starter for ten, Monday, Trello, and Asana are powerful and functional without requiring days of training.


Get into a routine

As a freelancer, it’s often easy to end up working erratic hours to keep clients happy. But this attitude more often than not ends in disaster. Before long, you’ll find yourself fatigued, and that will lead to a lowering of your productivity.

Since the days of cavemen, humans have craved routine. Our minds and bodies get used to the rhythms and patterns of ritualistic work, leading to better focus and higher quality work. So, start by setting some hard start and finish times for every day. Then become more granular from there.


Keep your finances in check

With the fast pace of freelance life, your business finances can sometimes get pushed down the priority list. Invoices are issued without being filed, receipts get lost, and payments slip through the net.

Fortunately, there’s a whole range of solutions to help you stay on top of your incomings and outgoings. From software products such as Xero, FreeAgent and Quickbooks to bespoke offerings from some of the larger national accountants firms.

Remember to relax

Running your own business as a freelance contractor can be exciting and exhilarating. But if you’re not careful, you could end up overworked and exhausted which could lead to burnout.

Remember, it’s just a job. Make sure you take time out to see friends and loved ones, go for a walk, or just sit and read. You’ll soon see the benefits of a balanced lifestyle on your work.


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