If there’s one thing I’ve learned since starting freelancing, it’s that I need to be organized. I need to be able to jump into work when I have time. I can’t spend 20-30 minutes deciding what to work on next. I need that 20-30 minutes to write!
I’m a stay at home mom which means I have small windows of work time. Naps are not always predictable (and when you have more than one it is sometimes impossible to have them sleep at the same time #momproblems) and truthfully I am too tired to work after they go to sleep. So I spend early mornings on the bulk of my work. So I need to be organized.
Maybe your situation is different. Perhaps you work full-time and started freelancing on the side. Or maybe you’ve been freelancing for years but have been losing motivation. Everyone needs an organizational boost from time to time.
Tip #1: Make lists
Choose your preferred method of list making: paper/pen, an open Google Doc on your computer, an email draft on your phone, etc. Find a way to make a list and use the following headings:
- Need to do (projects you are working on now)
- Want to do (perhaps a list of blog posts or changes to make to your website that don’t necessarily NEED to happen soon)
- Other ideas (a catch-all for ideas that maybe need to be thought out more)
It’s simple and you could certainly break things up more, but you need a place to write article ideas or people you could contact about work. I could sit down and think of people I know who need virtual assistant services (or freelance writing, or whatever freelance work you focus on) and maybe tomorrow I would think of three more. The idea is that I don’t want those ideas or people to disappear from my brain. Have one place to document.
Tip #2: Organize work documents
Get started on this now. Come up with how you’ll store files. Maybe each client has a dedicated folder in Google Docs or on your computer. Come up with a naming system: maybe name of the article with the date. Or maybe you start with the date to easily sort and search. Find a way that works for you, but the key is to have a system in place. I personally use Google Docs and have a folder for each client. I also keep a “master sheet” in the folder with a list of projects, dates and article names so I can easily reference the work I’ve done for them.
Tip #3: Schedule work and don’t take on too much
This is very important for me. Getting up at 5am means I can instantly go into “work mode” and get stuff done. Maybe for you that means setting aside 9-11pm every night to work before bed. It all depends on your schedule. But make it a habit or you’ll soon be making excuses (I’m too tired, I need to do XYZ instead, etc.) Although there are times when you’ll need to shuffle the time around, you’ll be better off in the long run to stick with your work time. But be realistic, maybe that means you only have one hour per day to work on projects or seek out clients. And that’s ok! Make sure you don’t take on too much work if you only have limited time to actually DO the work.
By having one place to unload ideas, organizing your work documents and setting up a schedule for yourself, you’ll be able to work more efficiently when you have time to write/work! Freelancing is not always easy, but by taking these steps you’ll be saving time later on (no searching for specific documents or trying to remember that “great idea” from last week). Set yourself up for success!
How do you stay organized?