Working on freelance projects while having a full-time job can be worth the remuneration, but it can get hectic as well.
Give yourself a minute to think about the two following challenges most of us are facing with our current economic situation: (1) no job security, and (2) inflation. These challenges are exactly why even some full-time employees are going for freelance in their spare time. By supplementing your income with extra work, not only can you earn yourself a decent living, but you also have less to worry about when it comes to paying the bills.
The question is, “How do we manage our day jobs along with the freelance work?”Some people jump into the world of freelance without proper planning only to realize later that they have no idea where they are headed with this new career. They slack off, fail to complete their work, hand in poorly done projects, or fail to complete their freelance work during contract-specified working hours.
All of the problems listed above lead to unwanted disputes with the clients and thus a negative overall impression on them. This is why I am going to share with you a practical plan that will help you manage your workload efficiently.
Time Management is the Key
Even though the idea of freelancing seems really sensible, it’s not a piece of cake. If you ask a designer, writer or any other freelancer about their experience, they will tell you that it’s literally impossible – ok not impossible, but difficult to effectively manage – without proper time management. Fail to do that, and it might get all messed up.
For instance, you might be able to slack off one day and make the excuse that you “got caught up with some social obligations” but that will leave you with double the amount of work for tomorrow.
Without a work schedule to follow and the estimated time required for the remaining tasks, you wouldn’t know exactly when to start your work in order to complete the extra amount of work you have to complete that day. This will get carried on to the next and then the next and so on, thereby reducing your productivity and adding to your stress.
What You Can Do
Make a realistic plan and stick to it. By “plan” I mean a specific schedule. For example, it takes me a while to recharge myself and overcome my day-job exhaustion. This is why, I get on with my work at around 9 pm (after several rejuvenating activities) and after 3 hours of regular work (including one or two 5-10 minutes breaks), I’m done with most of the work I have for the day.
Figure out what time suits you best and be specific about when to start or finish and how many breaks to take. Follow this plan vigorously and you will have no problem with your full-time job either.
A lot of people simply can’t help spending a lot of time over the internet, particularly on social networks. When you work from home, you’re free to do what you like, when you like, and for how long you like. Unlike your office network where there are several restrictions and a responsibility to complete work on time, there won’t be limits to browsing at home. For this reason, some spend a little too much time on social media and other websites.
For some strange reason, people, who are well aware of the fact that the time spent in such extra activities will only negatively impact their work and productivity, still choose to spend time doing so. The reason could be because of boredom or a need for change. Whatever the reason, try to put a limit to such activities.
What You Can Do
- Do your research
- Save everything that is relevant to your project
- Go offline
You can also try some distraction-free apps that are quite popular these days. If you’re a social networking addict, you might want to try the Anti-Social app that blocks 30 social networking sites including Facebook, Hulu, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and more. Limitless, Stay Focus, Focus booster, Concentrate, and LeechBlock are also some great applications to track your productivity or minimize distractions during work.
Don’t Take More Work than You Can Handle
Okay, you might be taking extra work because you need more money, but remember, don’t bite off more than you can chew. If you take in more workload than you can manage, then you will not be able to do justice to what you already have. As a result, instead of being productive, you will feel exhausted.
It is necessary to have realistic expectations when you are accepting work. Remember, you’ve got enough on your plate already with your day job, bills and other such obligations. An overfilled plate may look attractive in the beginning, but once you’ve started eating till your stomach’s full, the extra food is simply wasted.
What You Can Do
Think of the mental and physical efforts as your “appetite”. If you can only manage three hours of work during the night, you need to have that in mind before you accept projects that will require more time than you can devote.
There is nothing wrong with saying no to your clients, once in a while. If you tell them that your schedule doesn’t permit you, I am sure they will understand. It’s better to know your limits instead of accepting more work than you can handle.
Communicate through Email
Even though communication via phone is more efficient, sometimes it’s better to communicate with your clients through email. Why is this practice better? The reason is that you will be able to save your time.
In my opinion, email or instant messaging is a much more convenient, quick, and efficient form of communication. Plus, you have a history to check back on when either of you disagrees with what has been discussed. A black-and-white proof will always be more convincing than a “did he say or did he not say?”
Also, you won’t have to worry about waiting for your client to “be free”, especially when different time zones are under consideration.
What You Can Do
Ask them to email you when they have any questions or require clarification on an idea, draft or sketch, or simply if they want to share their feedback.
You might want to learn to take the opportunity to organize your mailbox better, so you can save time not having to search through threads and threads of history to find what you are looking for, days or months down the road.
Work over the Weekends
During your college life, your full-time classes, travel and other obligations probably took up most of your weekdays. This might have left you with only the weekends to work on the most difficult projects and assignments. Similarly, your nine-to-five day job will definitely take up most of your sunshine hours (and some more to relax) during the week. This is why the weekend is almost always a welcome treat.
The weekend gives you plenty of time to fulfill your freelance commitments and no one except your clients are going to be waiting for your work.
What You Can Do
You can also save your most demanding and high-profile projects for the weekends when you are able to work during the mornings (usually when people are wide awake and fresh).
If you’re worrying about the absence of a social life, think of it this way: you can either get some extra cash in your pocket or a few extra hours to “socialize”. Which do you prefer?
Apart from being able to earn more, freelance work will allow you to learn new things and gain more knowledge about a variety of subjects. It certainly requires hard work and effort to build a successful freelance career and it can be demanding on your time in the long run. But you know what’s the best part about all this? It’s when you cash that cheque that your freelance gig got you. Everything will feel worth it then.
Editor’s note: This is written by Preston Pierce.