Are you struggling with managing multiple clients and projects in your work as a freelancer or contractor? Managing your workload when you have projects running with multiple end clients can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face – the phrase ‘a nice problem to have’ springs to mind! Sticking to agreed deadlines, meeting client demands and delivering on a brief can be tough when you’re juggling several projects at once. We’ve put together some tips which will hopefully help you to keep your hair and your clients.
Allocate your time
Very important and the first thing you should do when dealing with multiple clients. Put aside time for each project and stick to it, unless there is a major deadline change. Plan how much time you need to complete each project and when you need to deliver by. Use a calendar or a project management application so you can view the precise blocks of time you’ve allocated. If you don’t allot time it’s all too easy to lose focus and allow projects to ‘drift’ which will ultimately mean you lose control of your workload and are constantly trying to catch up to meet agreed deadlines. By sticking to your project plan your clients will appreciate improved communication, accurate deadlines and the quality of your work.
Following on, setting realistic expectations and deadlines with your clients is paramount. When you know when and for how long you’ll be working on a project, speak to your client and tell them the expected delivery date. Try to be as accurate as possible, estimates are fine as long as they’re realistic but never set a deadline based purely on guesswork. Always include a percentage of time as a contingency. This will allows for any problems or delays you can’t control or, if everything runs smoothly, can give you the extra time for final accuracy checks, testing or paperwork. If the client needs to set the deadline, make sure it’s realistic and that you definitely have the capacity to meet it before agreeing. Blindly accepting work with pre-defined deadlines that you simply can’t meet will cost you business in the long run.
It might sound obvious but ‘prioritising’ is the one thing most people struggle with the most in their working lives. It’s especially tricky when freelancing or contracting for multiple clients as the temptation is to drop everything to respond to your clients’ queries, requests or issues. Ultimately, if you want to impress your clients, generate referrals and secure future projects from them, you stand a much better chance if you remain focussed and organised, rather than dropping your work every time the phone rings or an email arrives.
Once you’ve scheduled your time for each project, stick to your plan until each project is delivered. Only if there is a work emergency or delays beyond your control should you switch to other projects.
Make sure you’ve also factored in time for your other commitments; Business administration, new business meetings and travel are all easily overlooked when setting priorities and the time you haven’t scheduled for these will eat into your project time.
One thing at a time
Multitasking is an elusive skill for most of us. If you’re lucky enough to be able to give multiple tasks your full attention we’d love to know your secret! For most of us, trying to jump from one project to another on a regular basis will result in a lack of focus and attention to detail. At best, the work gets done but leaves you stressed and feeling out of control. At worst, you risk delivering poor quality work or missing deadlines. Once you’ve planned your workload and set your priorities, work on one project at a time until completion. You’ll be focused, productive, accurate and on time.
So there are some of our best tips for juggling clients and keeping yourself on target. Have you got any other tips? Leave them in the comments below.