Freelancers wear many hats. We’re salespeople, bookkeepers, and consultants all rolled into one. We also juggle multiple freelance projects at any given time to keep the income flowing. Managing administrative duties while serving clients can be a logistical nightmare if you’re not organized.
I had a rude awakening recently because I didn’t have the appropriate systems in place to manage the amount of work that was on my plate. It felt like I was always in a crazy rush to meet deadlines. The lack of structure made running my business incredibly stressful.
To keep myself on track (and to give myself peace of mind), I created a project management system with the help of a virtual assistant. Here’s how I now organize projects each month:
Map Out Due Dates on a Calendar
Most of my clients are regular clients that I work with consistently month after month. The first step at the start of each month is writing down assignments with due dates on my calendar.
After the client work, I add in the administrative projects to the calendar like sending invoices, pitching businesses for partnerships, pitching stories to clients, and publishing posts to my blog.
The type of calendar I use is one where you can see the entire month in one view. Reviewing the schedule in “month view” instead of “week view” makes it easy to see what’s ahead at all times.
List Tasks Required for Each Project
The next step is to write down the smaller tasks that need to be done to complete each project on the calendar. Breaking down projects into tasks isn’t something I’ve always done, but I learned it’s something that needs to be done when you start working with an assistant. In order for someone to give you administrative support, they need to know what tasks should be completed and when.
Most of my writing assignments are broken down into four tasks — research, first draft, second draft, and edit. Each of these tasks gets put on the calendar leading up to the project due date. Do the same thing with your projects. Break them down into smaller tasks with due dates so you can work on them one step at a time. A benefit of having a project management calendar with tasks such as this is you can keep tabs on progress.
You may also want to break down some of your administrative responsibilities into smaller items on your to-do list. For instance, maybe you write your social media content one day, and then you schedule the social media content on your feed the next day.
The last step (and my favorite step) is assigning the tasks. Hiring someone to help me with these tasks has been one of the best decisions I’ve made. My assistant helps me write and edit content for my website and client websites. She also helps me research information for articles.
There are free online project management systems that can organize all of your assignments and admin tasks. I use Asana, and it’s been great so far. Asana lets you assign tasks to different team members, and team members can message you within the platform when items are complete.
Setting up business systems has been something I focused on this year. It’s easy to put off creating business systems because getting organized isn’t a money making activity. However, organization is going to help you better manage your business in the long run. The simple calendar hack above for client projects and admin tasks can make your life easier as your workload increases.