Scheduling can be one of the most challenging elements of a successful freelance career.
In the beginning, you might not be able to afford to be choosy when accepting projects. Therefore, you may accept a few light jobs, requiring minimal work. You might also accept a few larger projects requiring much more involved work.
When this happens, it’s easy to drown in the big tasks, forgetting to turn your attention to the small ones. Then, all of a sudden, weeks go by, and that tiny project you committed to has two days left until deadline. You’ve put it off consistently thinking ‘that requires a small amount of work. I’ll do it later,’ only to discover that later is now and you haven’t even begun.
What to do?
Try putting your work into boxes. Confine your projects to time blocks, thereby limiting their shelf life on your to-do list. For example, schedule in small projects to be done on specific days. Limit small projects to one or two days and focus only on those during that scheduled time if you can. Eliminate your small projects quickly so you can spend the rest of your time that month tackling the larger ones.
If you have an ongoing project that occurs weekly or monthly, opt to meet a specific goal each day or by the end of each week. For example, if you blog twice per week, schedule two hours every Monday and Wednesday to do this, as if you were scheduling a meeting. The same goes for sales calls, prospecting and pitching. By scheduling ongoing tasks, you eliminate the temptation to put them off until that “later” moment that never comes.
In the non-freelance world, we’re often forced to confine our work to time blocks due to other scheduling items, such as meetings, corporate retreats or business trips. But, as self-employed people, we lack this kind of imposed structure. Try creating your own sense of structure by putting your work into boxes. You might find you have more free time to devote to other things besides freelancing.