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The life a freelancer is not an easy one; there are deadlines to meet and high expectations to live up to. In some cases more so than if you had your boss standing over your shoulder eight hours a day in a workplace job. If time is not managed right it can lead to actually doing more work, falling behind on important tasks and setting yourself - the freelancer up for burn out. Being able to work in your jeans and set your own work schedule are some of the benefits of being your own boss but you have to be organized and set high priorities to be able to complete projects on a timely basis and make your freelance career work for you.
A freelancer’s inbox and computer holds a lifeline to all of their freelance jobs, time sensitive contract assignments, freelance gigs and even contact names to various businesses and website sources. Finding organization within your inbox and your desktop will lead to a more productive work environment and allow you to concentrate more on important tasks at hand.
Organize Your Desktop
Set up folders on your desktop- It may be easiest to grab a pen and paper and begin to go through all of your work on your computer and then create a list of all of the projects or files that exist in your hard drive. From this list, summarize which projects should be stored in which file. Think of it as if you were archiving hard copies of each project into manila folders and then sorting them into a large metal filing cabinet.
Once you have this step in place it will be easy to go to your desktop and create the folders. Create a folder for each section such as archived or completed projects, incomplete projects, current projects, project ideas, contacts and so on. You can even create sub folders within the folders to help better organize the process. You can choose to sort folders by date or by project, the choice is yours. This may be time consuming but it will help make it easier to quickly find old articles or archived projects that you have worked on in the past as well as those you are currently working on now. Creating folders on your desktop is a time efficient way to keep track of your freelance jobs and stay organized at all times.
Organize Your Inbox
Set up folders within your inbox- If you are planning on using one email address for all of your freelance jobs it would be beneficial to create folders in your inbox. By creating folders within your email, you will be able to locate important emails and business contracts at a glance. You can create several folders for each company that you contract with so that all correspondence is kept separate. You can create subfolders so that you can keep information separated within the folder. For example; you can have general emails from a company in a folder and then the subfolders would contain the following; projects to complete, project ideas, projects submitted, payments received. This will allow you to easily glance at the folders and subfolders so you can find what you are looking for in the least amount of time.
Clean out your email- Many freelancers feel a huge weight is lifted off their shoulders when they delete all of those unwanted emails from their inboxes. Did you ever think to clean out all of your folders too? Saving old documents from old contacts or freelance jobs can really be either condensed into an archived folder or even on a notepad in your email. Destroy old correspondence if it does not apply to any future jobs or if it no longer contains any pertinent information. Be sure to update your address book to keep important contacts current.
Categorize Your Work
Create different computer usernames- Sometimes being able to organize your freelance jobs can be as easy as signing in under a different account on your own laptop or desktop. Simply go your control panel and create another user account, make sure to set all settings to administrative so that you can change programs and make updates if you are logged in under another name. You can create several usernames to even differentiate between multiple freelance jobs or contracts that you need to complete.
Create multiple email accounts- Creating multiple email accounts may sound like a grueling process but in fact it can give you more flexibility and more control over your freelance jobs and your career. If you receive several emails from specific companies each day, having individual email accounts is a great way to easily access new information from the partners you are working with. You can also glance quickly at the start page to see if you have any new mail and you will know instantly what it pertains to.
Bookmark important websites on your browser- Bookmarking is a simple tool that many computer users utilize to organize websites on the web. You can do the same thing with all of your freelance jobs. Create folders and then subfolders for all of the sites that pertain to your freelance jobs. Create folders using company names and then subfolders for related websites that pertain to the original folder they fall under.
Bookmark your web hot spots with a social bookmarking site- Digg and Delicious have reined supreme as being the benchmarks for social bookmarking and they claim to be the leaders of the pack. The site Sync one has developed a portal that will not only keep track of your favorite spots on the web it also teams up with Google to give you some of the revenue shares that it earns from everyone who clicks on the advertising social bookmarking sites allow you to easily access all of your bookmarks from anywhere and allows you to have all of the freelance websites and projects that you are working on instantly at your fingertips. All of the social networking hubs are great tools to utilize for organizing your freelance jobs.
Schedule Your Time
Create a schedule- By creating a schedule you are actually organizing your study skills and increasing your productivity, thus making you prioritize your time even better. Stick to a schedule and only do non work related activities at the pre set time. The same goes for when you are taking a break or done working for the day, shut work off and focus on your personal life, this is especially true for a freelancer as they are prone to burnout and isolation.
Taking personal time away from projects can sometimes be a difficult task for those of us who work at home. Even when you are not working, spending time going through emails can turn into a lengthy process and before you know it you are indulging in reading and re-reading impertinent information. Set a schedule each day in which you designate certain times to check your email or go through emails that you are unsure of what they contain. If you rely heavily on your email system everyday for your job, creating a filter or a separate email that only includes work related material will save you both time and money.
Organizing your freelance jobs isn’t just about the jobs themselves it also involves keeping work and play separate. When you master the difference between the two, organization and productivity will easily fall into place.