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6 Freelancer Organisation Tips to Boost Productivity

Freelancer organisation tips
Photo by Scott Evans on Unsplash

One of the benefits of freelancing is that you have more control over your workflow. However, this can make it difficult for beginner freelancers to stay productive and organised. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the top freelancer organisation tips to ensure you stay productive!

Our top 6 freelancer organisation tips are:

  1. Prioritise your tasks
  2. Build a routine that works for you
  3. Use daily recaps
  4. Remove any distractions
  5. Establish your thresholds and standards for taking on work
  6. Use reminders and notes to your advantage

It’s not easy to stay organised when you first start freelancing. It can all get quite overwhelming very quickly. It’s new territory, and you don’t have someone else telling you how to do things. Sure, your clients will guide you on specific projects, but how do you stay organised as a freelancer, to ensure you get the work done?

 

6 Best Freelancer Organisation Tips

1. Prioritise Your Tasks

Before you start doing any work, establish which tasks are urgent and which are not. Do you need to submit it in 24 hours? Or is the deadline in a month’s time? Start immediately with the urgent and important tasks. Obviously, if another task pops up that needs finished sooner, you should switch that to the priority. Simply completing tasks in order of due date is an effective way to ensure you’re always organised.

If an urgent task seems too big or difficult to accomplish, try breaking it up into bite-sized chunks. This will prevent you from burning out quickly or getting overwhelmed. Tackling a challenge segment by segment helps you proceed to the next task as soon as possible, minimising the time you spend stuck on major tasks.

After finishing all of your urgent jobs, start taking on the remaining tasks again in order of importance. Sometimes it’s more important to submit a certain job early than it is to finish a larger task on time. For example, if you’re trying to impress a new client, it might actually be a better idea to finish a job several days ahead of schedule, before taking on task that’s actually due sooner.

Of course, you don’t want to miss any deadlines doing so. However, it’s worth remembering that a task’s deadline isn’t the only important factor to consider. The Eisenhower Matrix is a helpful prioritisation tool that allows you categorise your tasks by their importance and urgency. There are other tools out there as well, but starting by using pen and paper is one of the simplest ways to prioritise your tasks!

 

2. Build a Routine That Works for You

Everyone has their own unique routine. You should never try to copy someone else’s routine just because it works for them. It can be tempting to adopt a proven strategy, without making the effort to develop a solution by yourself. But just because a routine works for one person does not mean that it will definitely work for you.

Many freelance experts encourage you to wake up early and start doing your work at once, while you still have a fresh mind. But you might actually find you have the most motivation in the late afternoon. You need to find a routine that works for your specific productivity cycle.

It’s not going to be easy. With enough trial and error, and a lot of persistence and perseverance, you’ll get there eventually. For the first few weeks of your freelancing career – or the next few weeks if you’ve already started – monitor how motivated you feel throughout the day. Try and match the times you feel most productive with the hardest tasks. This is the most effective way to stay productive and organised as a freelancer.

 

3. Use Daily Recaps

Our next freelancer organisation tip involves a bit of reflection. At the end of your workday, it’s helpful to look back at your accomplishments. After finishing all your tasks, try to have a quick mental recap of what you did in the day.

For me, I’ll think about how much work I’ve done, and how long I took to complete each task. I also take note of what I and my clients thought of the work and where I could improve things. This aspect of reflection is very useful for finding where you can do better as a freelancer. But it also helps to boost your motivation by constantly showing yourself what you’ve achieved each day.

Additionally, you should take it further by setting tasks for the next day. Don’t just stop at self-reflection, as planning can also benefit you greatly. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. When tomorrow arrives, review your plan, and make any necessary changes. A good tip is to make your plan very brief, but with clear tasks that you want to accomplish. As the day goes by, tick off what you’ve done, and add tasks that need to be done. This adds to the positive feedback loop, while also helping you to stay organised as a freelancer.

 

4. Remove Any Distractions

To become a freelancer, you must be not only willing to work hard, but also self-motivated. The biggest obstacle in the way of this self-motivation is distraction. Unfortunately, distractions exist all around us. This makes this freelancer organisation tip arguably the hardest to employ. However, it can be the most effective one on this list.

For a lot of us, our phones serve as our likeliest distraction throughout the day. Whether it’s social media, games, news or text messages, our phones represent almost unlimited opportunities for distraction. The easiest way to get rid of this is to stick your phone in another room.

If you struggle with other forms of distraction, such as pets or other people constantly holding you back from your work, try and find a quiet space to do your work. If this isn’t possible, try listening to some lyric-free music through headphones. Classical music, instrumental covers and even just white noise can prove to be a very effective way to block out distractions and get more work done.

 

5. Establish Your Thresholds and Standards for Taking on Work

As a beginner freelancer, it’s easy to just grab whatever work comes your way. This is especially so for those who have no prior experience and want to build up their portfolio. However, to prevent yourself from burning out or becoming overwhelmed, you need to think about what work you should accept.

Things to consider when establishing your standards and thresholds for freelance jobs are:

  • Your expected rate of pay – Beginners naturally have to start a little lower, but starting too low is an easy mistake to make. Check this article for some tips for setting your rates as a beginner.
  • How many hours a week you can work – You might find that a 9-5 routine suits you best, or you might only manage 10 hours a week. It can take time to narrow down your ideal schedule, but once you do, try and stick to it.
  • What kind of work you actually enjoy – You might receive an offer for a project above your usual rate and instantly say yes. Before just thinking about the money and time involved, consider if you’ll actually enjoy the project. If not, it might take longer than you expect as you struggle to focus, and it might just end up draining you mentally.

 

6. Use Reminders and Notes to Your Advantage

Our last freelancer organisation tip is simple to employ but extremely effective. Every freelancer should have some sort of reminders and notes system. Even if you aren’t particularly forgetful, using reminders can still be extremely useful. Even relatively simple systems like iOS’ Reminders app or Android’s Google Calendars work very well. You don’t need a fancy system or complex app. A good time to set these reminders is during your daily recap sessions.

However, if something comes to you while you’re working, it’s best to take a note of it right away. There’s nothing worse than forgetting to remind yourself about something important! You can use reminders to remind you of key tasks and deadlines, or even to simply set some time aside to think about a project or idea. But general notes are often just as effective.

I prefer the good old Post-It note, and I use these to note down all of my important tasks for the day. I’ll stick them on the wall right in front of my desk, and every time I complete a task, I get the satisfaction of taking it down off the wall. Different people have different ways of setting reminders and taking notes. However, it’s vital that you have some form of note system, as not only does it help with organisation, but it also ensures you never miss any important deadlines.

 

Just Some of Our Favourite Freelancer Organisation Tips

These are just some of the freelancer organisation tips that we think are the most effective to help you get more done as a freelancer. If you want to learn more about freelancing in general, be sure to check out the rest of our articles over on the blog.

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