When you have the bandwidth for a new client, you place a proposal. As clients respond often freelancer has to manage the overload.
Time and again, as a freelancer, I take up more clients than I can handle and has to manage the overload. I am horrible at saying no to clients. Even when I am almost about to say NO, the amount of money doesn’t help me either.
I prefer fixed price more than the hourly price more, and with small tasks, a client willing to pay a better amount. So I take it up.
I am still learning ways to say no. The fact of the matter is – it’s easy to write a blog article on how to say no to clients than doing it. It not only needs a lot of courage, but at the time when you are light on work, it can play on your mind.
Still, it is something everyone has to deal with it, or one may be too much overloaded.
Why Is Overload usual for Freelancers?
When you have the bandwidth for a new client, you place a proposal for a series of projects. If most of the clients start responding to your proposals and want to discuss things further with you, a freelancer is overloaded.
My Upwork Proposal Template wins me projects and clients more often. So even if I apply to a few projects, I get a goodish bit of reply from clients. It is an excellent problem to have, but it also means I am overloaded.
So here is how I manage the overload as a freelancer.
1. Fixed Working Hours for Client
You are overloaded doesn’t mean working all the time. Make sure to set aside the right time in the day for other than client work. It can be any personal work like visiting a bank or meeting a friend to family work like going to the kid’s school.
I manage a couple of blogs, forums, and clients though I wasn’t writing regularly for BizTips but was always committed to regular writing for Shabbir.in.
In 2017, I committed to BizTips and had been blogging thrice weekly for the past four months.
Fast Forward to 2019, and this is what I manage to achieve for the whole year.
So I have a fixed time for blogs and clients. Weekday’s first thing in the morning is time for BizTips writing. When I am done with BizTips, I start working for clients in the second half.
Weekends (mainly Saturday mornings) I write for Shabbir.in.
The clock tells me what I should be doing.
- Weekday mornings BizTips
- Saturday Morning Shabbir.in
- Second Half client work
So on and so forth.
Again this schedule works for me, but it isn’t full proof. What is more important is to have a schedule. It will help you manage the overload as a blogger or a freelancer.
2. Separate Client Email Address
Emails take a big chunk of my time. Productivity tips on LifeHacker will recommend reducing the time with emails, but it isn’t something a freelancer can do. Email is the primary method of communication, and it isn’t something that one can use less.
But when I reviewed, email was taking up a long chunk of my time. The issue was, having only one email for everything. So anything hits my inbox, and I was dragged towards it. It can be an email from the blog, client email, or any other email one is subscribed to.
Though I had separate emails for each of my blogs, all emails were getting forwarded to my primary Gmail email.
Now I have created separate emails for clients, one for each blog and accumulate them into one primary email and one email where I share on sites that need one.
So when I am opening an email, I make sure I am in the right email, depending on the task that I am doing.
If you don’t blog, still having a personal and client email separate helps because it will help you configure your phone and notifications correctly to be seen when they are supposed to.
I decide what emails I want to be seeing and when. When working with clients, I check the right inbox and aren’t being dragged to replying to blog emails.
3. Outsource what can be Outsourced
The best way to overcome the overload is to have someone who can do things for you. I am not a very big fan of hiring in-house, but I am a huge fan of outsourcing.
As and when I have something that can be done by someone else, I prefer getting it done by them so it can free up my time to focus on things I should be focusing on.
When you outsource, you will have the hurdles of finding the right team and or the right person. Those are part and parcel of freelancing. Over time you will be able to find people who are perfect to outsource.
As a developer, the design is a part that every developer should consider outsourcing and get the work overload under control.
4. Fire Clients Who Need More of Your Time
Some clients need more of your time than others. You won’t know this unless you work with them.
Some clients don’t understand your schedule, your working hours, or your timezone. It is better to be saying NO to them.
Here is one such client where I am too busy to take up his work because he has trust issues with freelancers even after working on many projects for him and needs a lot more of my time.
So I let this client know I am too occupied, which is true because the amount of time he needs isn’t I can afford to allocate to his work. As a freelancer, it is one of the smarter ways to manage work overload.
5. The Right Way to Plan and Prioritize
Often freelancers like to prioritize based on clients’ deadlines, but I do it slightly differently.
In the world of freelancing, the most critical aspect for a client is, he should know things are being worked out. So what I prefer is the shortest job first.
So anything that can be done real quick I get it done and let the client know y out of his x points are done. It helps me buy time as well as clients feel things are on the move.
Spend time to understand what can be done faster than others and plan accordingly.
Again what you think is a shorter job and what isn’t is left for you to decide. For me, more than 4 hours of work is a big job, and anything under 4 is a small task.
6. Keep Avoiding the Social Media
Social media can take up a lot of your time. Avoid social media when you are overloaded, and it can free up a lot of your time to work on things that can help you reduce the overload.
TV or Amazon Prime or, for that matter, even YouTube can also take up a lot of your time. It is better to avoid them altogether when you are overloaded.
7. Sleep Well
The best way you can work for a day is if you have a good sleep at night. Working more hours isn’t ideal for an overload scenario. Instead, try to work smarter.
Sleeping well can mean you get more things done the right way in the first shot and so you don’t need to rework on things saving you so much of your time and reduce the overload.
If I am working late, the next morning doesn’t work out as productive as I would have liked it to be. But if I take a nap for an hour in the afternoon, the evenings are a lot better.
Why it works, we can leave it up for the researchers to answer it, but it works, and I am more interested in knowing what works for me.
After the overload is done and dusted, it is time to put your thinking cap on.
Few overloads here and there are good, but if they are too frequent, you have to re-think your strategy as a freelancer and find a way to avoid them.
You were overloaded because of the chain of events panned out as they did. Within the chain of events, what could be changed to make sure the overload is avoided?
Often it is as simple as sending an email to a client before accepting their timeline:
- I will need more time to complete the project.
- I can start on your project one week from now.
As a freelancer, overload is one of the good things to be in. It is the start of a better freelancing career.
Here is a quote from Henry David Thoreau, which is very relevant:
Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. – Henry David Thoreau