For many new to the freedoms of freelance work, the ability to self-direct and self-select work is exhilarating. While being able to decide your own hours and essentially set the pace of your work is a beautiful life, success and longevity as a freelancer arguably requires more strategy than most other occupations. Developing and maintaining client relationships as well as producing consistent work takes adequate self-management.
Finding work is great – finding work we are interested in, that challenges us, that intrigues us is better. Just because work is freelance work doesn’t mean that there isn’t space for development and evolution. Discovering and pursuing a direction makes the work all that much better.
The Keys to Self-Management
Have a focus to your freelancing. When you’re doing your work as a freelancer, it’s up to you to drive your collective work in that direction since there isn’t an organizational structure. There are a few things to keep in mind for successful self-management:
Short-term and Long-term Goals – Consider all the things you want both professionally and personally. Are there new skills, topics, or domains you want to explore? What parts of your work do you enjoy most that you would like to spend more time doing? Having a long-term purpose as a freelancer is important. Think about where you’d like to be a few years down the road and keep an eye out for small steps you can take in the present to move closer to manifesting that future.
Be Selective – Remember that point in your life where you learned how to say “no”? For me, it’s still hard, but it can be tempting when you don’t have a single, full-time commitment to an employer to take on any work that comes your way, but be selective. Take on work that interests you and motivates you.
At the very least, try to be selective about the amount of time you spend on work that makes you feel indifferent in favor of work that you find more engaging. Target clients. Learn and practice selling yourself to potential clients to generate more flexibility for yourself to pick your projects.
Optimize Your Working Processes – While studying design principles in technology, I’ve spent a lot of time collaborating with engineers. One thing I’ve learned from how they operate is that simple practices can revolutionize your working life. Find ways that work for you to manage your time.
Look for and utilize tools to work more effectively.Get organized and stay organized. Once you discover what works for you, stick to it and only change it when you come up with improvements. By working efficiently and consistently, you can reflect on your work with clarity and perspective.
Check in With Yourself Every Once in a While – Set aside time to look over what you’ve done recently. See if you’ve been doing the same things over and over again. Go back to your goals and consider if you’re happy with where you are in terms of achieving them. Intentionally checking in with yourself gives you the opportunity to decide to make change. After all, the beauty of freelancing is being able to first and foremost work for yourself.
What’s your experience? Let us know if you’ve found freelancing strategies that have worked for you.