If you’re a freelancer, missing deadlines at work is something you can’t let yourself do.
There are a lot of things to organize and control when working remotely. Sometimes you can’t track every task, and you cause yourself stress and experience deadline pressure.
How can you escape missing deadlines and ruining your reputation?
Check out these tips on meeting deadlines by systemizing your time adequately.
1. Change your attitude.
If finishing work by the deadline isn’t the easiest thing for you, think about the responsibility you have based on your agreement with another person. Every job deadline you miss can turn into a catastrophe for your freelance career—remember that every time you’re setting a deadline.
Taking this issue seriously is essential for systemizing your online time. So make deadlines the most important thing in your everyday routine so that you can submit completed work before your deadlines.
2. Make project deadlines as clear as you can.
Don’t start your work without having discussed the time and date of submission with your customer. Even if you’re told there is no strict deadline, try to define it—it’s better to know how to organize your work time before you disappoint a client.
If you’re allowed to finish work whenever you want, give the customer the approximate date when you can submit your job and stick to it while working.
3. Define deadlines in your notebook.
When you work with more than three clients a month, creating a table for keeping track of job deadlines is a must. Of course, you can find all the details about the projects in an e-mail or Skype, but imagine how much time it could take to find the exact one. The point is that every customer is unique, and, unfortunately, all of them have their own understanding of time and date.
Moreover, work details also differ in various projects, which is challenging to remember. That’s why it’s important to keep a table for setting deadlines and other important details.
4. Mind world time difference.
The most widespread problem for freelancers trying to define deadlines is an ignorance of the time difference between you and your customer’s city. Take note of the exact local time of your client’s location, so you can agree on the same time and avoid misunderstandings.
By the way, this is another reason to take notes about work deadlines in your schedule. Of course, it’s possible to keep in mind several time zones, but where is the guarantee that you won’t miss anything?
5. Set online time for your questions.
Whether you have a huge project or work on small tasks, you may want to have some comments from your client. And when they don’t reply, you can lose precious work time and have difficulty meeting the deadline.
Make sure you have all the information about your work. Always ask your clients to give you their contact information, so you can get answers if you need them. Also, set online time for you to communicate without interfering with each other’s schedules.
6. Make an agreement about editing time.
Imagine this: You accomplish work within the deadline, send it to your customer, and wait until they have enough online time to answer. When they do reply, suddenly it appears that they aren’t satisfied! In the end, you have the whole project to edit and end up asking “who is to blame for the lost time?”
To avoid such stressful situations, discuss with your customers what time is required for editing. You can also offer your rules for setting deadlines. Clients are usually not sure what conditions you are comfortable with.
7. Take more time than you need.
You never know what circumstances can stop you from finishing a project by the deadline. There can be some offline problems, other projects to work on, editing of your previous work, or a terrible internet connection. To avoid the anxiety and stress of missing the deadline, try to schedule a bit of a cushion. That means setting deadlines for some time after you can finish the job.
Consider the amount of work to be done—for a small task, you can add five or six hours, and for a big project, up to a week, and so on. Experience shows this is a fantastic strategy to get everything done on time.
8. Divide your project deadlines into several parts.
When you start a new project, the submission deadline seems so far away that you think you can let yourself relax and take a little vacation. But if you do that, you’re going to have a missed deadline.
How can that be? Well, when you get a big project, it is difficult to evaluate the real time you’ll need for such work.
To systemize your online time, break big projects into parts that you can evaluate. That way, you can set deadlines for each small task and get time for each of them.
9. Concentrate on small tasks.
When you break your project into several parts, the hardest task is to focus on small pieces. Try setting deadlines for small chunks of work and keep them on a timetable or calendar.
Now, it’s a time to choose a task to work with—other parts should wait for their turn. To keep yourself motivated, create a table so that you can check the boxes when they’re finished. This helps freelancers to feel satisfied every time they accomplish small tasks and continue working without a loss of interest.
10. Control your work time.
When setting deadlines for small chunks of work, you can manipulate the time and date as you want.
But doesn’t that interfere with your work time?
Honestly, it does.
You don’t experience deadline pressure and may not feel it at all. That’s why, when creating the plan for the week, you should devote enough time for every piece of work. Then set the following rule: Never work less than you were planning, unless there are some serious reasons to put off your work.
11. Carefully choose the time to work.
If you’ve heard about biorhythms, night owls, and early birds, you know it can be an annoying topic when you’re working as a non-freelancer.
But wait, you ARE a freelancer, and it’s up to you to choose your time to work!
Experiment with your regimen to choose the most productive hours of your day and devote them to work. Don’t make yourself wake up when you’re not ready or stay up until midnight if you don’t want to. Spending your productive hours on work can save a lot of time.
12. Ask for feedback.
Keeping to deadlines seems impossible when clients ask you to edit the very first steps of your work. How much of your work time should you spend on fixing the fundamentals of the project? To keep that from happening, get a customer’s approval every time you accomplish a task.
Don’t let your time pass fruitlessly while editing the project’s basis. Remember—it’s important to establish the online time for your meetings with customers so that they can approve your accomplished tasks.
13. Don’t promise too much.
It doesn’t matter how wonderful a project is and how much you want to participate—your reputation is more important. If you think there will be difficulties with missing the deadline, avoid taking that new job.
14. Learn from your experience.
Meeting deadlines isn’t a natural skill. Sometimes mistakes do happen, no matter how hard you try. You can’t predict everything, but there’s good news—you definitely learn when you make a mistake.
Keep a schedule with approximate time to work on each project, continually update it, and always have it near you. The main point is you can make mistakes when you’re a new freelancer, but for a professional freelancer, missing deadlines is a blow to their reputation.
15. Give up your personal time (sometimes).
For some people, submission deadlines are extremely important. That’s why if you feel that you can’t meet the deadline, use some personal time to finish the work. Of course, it’s difficult, but trust us—making apologies is more uncomfortable. Maybe you can stay up for an hour or two at night or miss that new episode on TV.
But remember—this is the last option to choose. Only use it if you can’t avoid missing the deadline, because you can’t sacrifice every minute of your free time to complete urgent tasks.
16. Request help.
If you think you won’t have enough time to work on your project, and things get too close, just ask for help. This is why it’s convenient to have a partner who can do some of your work when you’re going to miss deadlines.
Of course, you shouldn’t give every task you don’t like to your partner. But, when it’s a do-or-die situation, people are ready to help.
17. Avoid procrastination.
The first enemy of submission deadlines is called procrastination, and this enemy is one that freelancers don’t want to meet. The effectiveness of your online time depends on your willpower, so you can always scare procrastination away with hard work and your professional goals.
Continue motivating yourself with pleasurable things like sweets, episodes of your favorite series or new purchases on eBay.
Time management isn’t easy to master in a couple of weeks. Your ability to meet deadlines depends on your experience and the effort that you make.
To become a successful freelancer, you have to upgrade many skills, and CoolClub is always ready to help you with that. But remember—two primary issues characterize your work: quality and the ability to submit by deadlines.
Try these effective tips to schedule your work time. Have a good day!