Organization is essential for any professional. However, if you’re operating as a freelancer, it ramps up the essential nature of staying structured in your daily work activities.
Not only do you need to maintain organization for your actual work. You also need to keep different clients and administrative duties in order.
Here are a few veteran tips to address organization in every area of your freelancing lifestyle with that in mind.
1. Streamline with Harlow
There are many suggestions on this list. Some are general; others are specific. However, none are as comprehensive as Harlow.
In the past, the creators of Harlow worked as freelancers themselves and experienced the ups and downs of freelancing life. After this extensive experience, they launched their platform, which they designed to bring all of the most significant freelancing administrative activities into a single, easy-to-use location.
Harlow helps freelancers see all of their clients in a single dashboard. It allows them to process invoices, oversee proposals and contracts, and address task management, all from one place.
The ability to put so much of the administrative work of a freelancer into a single program is hard to find— and extremely valuable. It streamlines the day-to-day activities that run a business as a solopreneur and frees up freelancers to focus on the work they’re paid to do.
2. Build a Solid Schedule
When organization comes up as a topic of conversation, it tends to focus on the physical. Workspaces, projects, and other tangible elements of daily work take front and center.
But time is another critical factor that you need to tame if you want to tap into the benefits of staying organized. The most orderly home office and the cleanest computer desktop won’t do much good if deadlines and time-based responsibilities constantly pressure you.
Building a solid schedule is key to establishing a sense of normalcy and predictability in your freelancing work.
Pick consistent times of the day to start and end your work (whenever possible.) Then, figure out at what points of the day you work best. Putting a solid schedule in place can help you manage your workload, maximize your output, and stay organized every step of the way.
3. Create Clear Boundaries
Work-life balance isn’t just important. It’s also a foundational part of good organization. However, if your personal life and business life are constantly overlapping, it can create chaos and confusion.
One way to avoid this is by setting up clear boundaries between your different responsibilities. This is essential if you work from home and need to operate professionally in your personal living space.
When that’s the case, make sure to dedicate an area of your home that is only for work. This doesn’t have to be a big office. It can be an extra bedroom or even a corner of your own sleeping space. Just make sure that it’s dedicated to working. Then, every time you step foot in your workspace, you can disconnect from your personal life and focus on work — and vice versa.
4. Stay Digitally Organized
So much of life takes place on the computer and the cloud. This makes digital organization a priority for modern, 21st-century workers.
There are many ways to stay digitally organized. A few top suggestions include:
- Keep your folders and files labeled with search terms and dates included.
- Put every document you create or download into a specific location.
- Clean off your desktop as a recurring event.
Digital organization can streamline how you work. For example, if you need a file, you can head right to the folder that it should be in. Even if it isn’t there, a quick search should help you locate it with ease if you took the time to label it correctly.
5. Create a CTS
A CTS or “commitment tracking system” is often seen as an enterprise-level tool to help keep track of a business’s commitments. And that’s true. But a CTS can also be an invaluable tool for a freelancing individual.
Using a CTS program like OmniFocus can help you keep track of each individual commitment that you make. You can add in assigned projects and incorporate responsibilities, as well, to ensure that they’re addressed in the future.
As a freelancer juggling numerous clients and projects, a CTS can be an ideal place to house all of your commitment-related activities. It gives you a single place where you can go to keep track of everything that’s expected of you. This helps avoid missing deadlines and maintaining priorities as you move from one contracted responsibility to the next.
6. Use Your Calendar for Specific Interactions
If you have a CTS set up, that doesn’t just help you organize and track your commitments. It also avoids the temptation to clutter your calendar with an infinite amount of minutiae. For example, if you include “meet with new client” and “take out the garbage” on the same calendar, the little details will crowd out the important stuff.
Instead, work to put all your activities and projects into a CTS. Then repurpose your calendar as a way to track the most important things.
Usually, this revolves around human interactions. For instance, you can track a flexible project deadline in your CTS. But if you’ve scheduled coffee with a client, that should go into your Calendar — since missing your coffee appointment will significantly impact another person.
An organized and streamlined calendar doesn’t just help you keep track of things. It also enables you to establish a reputation as someone who comes through on the responsibilities that really matter.
7. Set Aside Time for the Administrative Stuff
As a freelancer, you wear a lot of hats, and you now have lots of options. You’re a marketer promoting your brand. On top of that, you’re a customer service rep taking care of client needs. You’re a salesperson generating leads. You’re on the R&D team. You create products and services. You’re the accountant in charge of billing, invoices, and even taxes.
The complexity of your responsibilities can make it easy to ignore the administrative stuff in favor of the “stuff that really matters.” But the truth is, if you push off things like invoicing clients or sourcing new work, you’ll feel that sooner or later. It also leads to daily disruptions and a general sense of chaos.
Instead, work time for the administrative stuff right into your daily and weekly schedules. If you know you need to pay quarterly taxes, plan to do so days ahead of time. If you need to invoice a client once a month, put it in your CTS so that you don’t book too much work on that day.
Many factors go into staying organized as a freelancer. After all, you’re operating a complete business on your own. It’s easy to get your wires crossed as you move from one activity to the next.
It’s important to take steps to curb the confusion that can come from a disorganized freelancing lifestyle. Instead, use the tips above to establish a sense of structure and composure as you deliver the best freelancing service to each of your clients, not just now but in perpetuity.
Image Credit: Ehsan Ahmadnejad; Pexels; Thanks!