Running a freelance business is tough work. If you’ve made it through the first 3 articles (Determine your skill set, Self-marketing and Landing the Gig) with feverish vigor, you are about up to your ears in paperwork, files and possibly already a list of potential clients. How on earth can you keep your sanity in this mess? Here are few tips and important key factors to successfully organizing the freelance mind (and paperwork.)
Work Clutter Free
Organizing your work space should be the first step. When your space is organized you can reach your files quickly without spending wasted time searching underneath all that paperwork. Not to mention that a clean workspace helps free your creative mind.
During the day your desk could be a sloppy mess but at the end of the day – take 15 minutes to clean up and clear out the clutter so you can start fresh tomorrow.
Label your files
Even though this is a digital age real-life paper is still going to be around for a very long time. Learning to manage the potential overload of paperwork will help aid in a smoother business process. There are many ways to organize your paperwork, however, by Client or Company name can be the easiest to remember when you have to go back and dig up an old file.
Keeping a color coded system can also help you quickly access files; green for finances, blue for leads, etc. is an easy way to start.
Keep updated Contacts
Networking is a brilliant Freelancer’s tool, but it only counts if you actually get a hold of the potential client. Be sure you have the most current contact information for all of your networking partners. Every so often it helps to send out a little update your information email, newsletter, etc. This helps keep your name fresh in your networking partner’s mind, but it also shows them that you are still thinking about them.
Keeping track of a Calendar on a consistent basis can help you gauge you’re the amount of time you’ve spent on a specific project and foresee your future availability, but it can also help you monitor your productivity levels.
Email is amazing and annoying – you could be waiting to hear some feedback from your latest submission to the client, looking for a new potential lead – but let’s face it – you keep your email open and look at it often, sometimes too often. If you limit the amount of time you spend checking your email on a daily basis your potential productivity level could jump through the roof! Set your email account to receive new emails every 2 hours or more and/or resolve to check it only a set number of times a day. This will keep you focused on the task at hand and let the email roll in – you’ve already set aside time on your calendar to review daily emails anyways!
On a side note – this is not to say completely ignore your email for the day, let’s keep in mind this is the main use of contact now-a-days so check it – just limit the amount of time you do check.
Here are some other great online tools that can help you get and stay organized.
Back Pack – “Backpack is an easy intranet for your business. Store, share, discuss, and archive everything that’s essential for your team. Safe and secure”
(www.rememberthemilk.com) Remember the Milk – “The best way to manage your tasks. Never forget the milk (or anything else) again.”
Harvest – “Track time, log expenses, invoice clients, and keep track of account receivables and revenue. Harvest lets you do it all, so you can run your business with style and ease”
Breeze – “Breeze let’s you create and send amazing email campaigns. And it’s really, really easy”
Zoho is an amazing free online tool for businesses. It can provide real-time collaboration, office programs and much, much more. This is a site definitely worth a look and comes highly recommended by freelance professionals world-wide!
Hopefully you have gained some resourceful knowledge during this short article series on Freelance career opportunities and how to achieve them. This is the last edition of the Freelance 101 series.... for now. Stay tuned!