Freelancing is more than just a job, it is a way of life and let’s face it; the freelance lifestyle is not for the faint-hearted. You can go from zero to one hundred miles an hour in a matter of minutes and keeping up with the pace can leave the humble freelancer feeling frazzled and weary.
There is no doubt about it, the key to staying sane is to be super organised and create manageable routines. This allows you to make the most of the busy times and leverage your quiet moments to focus on business growth. We would even argue that organisation is the MOST important thing a freelancer should get right; once you’ve cracked it everything else has a space to fall into. If you are currently pulling your hair out though don’t worry we have our top 5 organisation tips to share with you that are perfect for the floundering freelancer.
1. Organise Your Emails
As a freelancer, your email inbox is your workspace. When you start to build your reputation it is thrilling to receive emails, especially those that are inquiring about work. But as your demand grows it is not uncommon for your emails to get out of control. It is absolutely imperative as a freelancer that you strive to provide the best customer service you can and replying late or not replying at all is more than just costly to your business; it is deadly.
How you organise them will depend on your particular business but having some sort of system is essential. You could create folders for different types of work, subjects, clients or potentially into past work, current projects and pitches. However you label them, the most valuable thing you can do to ensure this method is efficient is check your emails every day as part of your routine, whatever you do, don’t let your inbox get too full.
Of course you also have to delete unwanted emails but this can be difficult when you have a thousand emails coming in every day that you unwittingly subscribed to. To combat this try a free service like unroll.me, it scans all of your subscriptions and gives you an easy and quick way to cancel or keep. This automatically cleans up your emails and prevents your inbox from becoming a dumping ground.
2. Organise Your News
As a freelancer it is your responsibility to stay up to date with the latest news and trends in your area of expertise. Being well informed allows you maintain the competitive edge and provide the best service to your clients. The problem is that when life is busy you haven’t always got the time to be trawling through the news looking for relevant stories. There is no need with Google Alerts because once you have set it up, the stories that are most appropriate for you get sent right into your inbox (and with your super organised inbox you won’t ever miss them)!
3. Organise Your Space
One of the joys of freelancing is you are able to choose your own work space; a home office, a kitchen table, the park, the beach, a shared workspace… where ever you choose to work make sure the space is de-cluttered and clean. Surrounding yourself with papers and notes of unfinished work will clutter your mind and make it harder to focus on what you need to do at any one time. If possible create a filing system that allows you to easily find any papers you need and also gives you a place to put things straight away. As a freelancer, your workspace also includes your computer. Just like in the real world, make sure you file documents in folders that are clearly labelled and easy to find.
4. Organise Your Time
Keeping a diary is obviously really important but with an array of different appointments including interviews, meetings, deadlines and reviews it can be difficult to stay on top of everything. The last thing you want is something slipping through the net.
Use a diary by all means, some people love the authentic feel of good stationary (myself included), but transfer this information to an electronic diary as well. This way you can be physically reminded of events through notifications. The best electronic diary is on your phone as you will never be without it.
5. Organise Your Life
As a follow on from diary management, don’t feel you have to separate your business and personal life by creating different calendars especially in your phone. If you have a medical appointment, a meeting at your child’s school or a family meal planned, put it in the same diary to avoid double booking work in at the same time.
It is also helpful for your work/life balance to block out periods of time that you allocate for ‘time off.’ This doesn’t have to be for planned events, in fact it is valuable to give yourself time off just to relax or spend time with your family. It can be easy to blur the lines between work and home as a freelancer and although we all love the flexibility we need to give ourselves time to recuperate so when we are working we are energetic and able to give it our best.
Freelancer Heroes is an organisation created by freelancers, for freelancers and we personally understand the hectic lifestyle of a freelancer because it is ours too. From our experience, organisation can be your super power allowing you to find time and space you didn’t even know you had and to deliver the best service to your clients. So if you feel as if you are drowning in a sea disorganisation, stop, breath and work your way through our 5 top tips. We would love to hear how you get on and please feel free to share your own tips with us too and we can share with the Freelance Heroes community.