If you go to an office everyday and have a traditional job, you pretty much know what is on tap every day. When you are a freelancer, every day is different. One of the most challenging things I’ve found is planning out workflow where there is a steady stream and you can look ahead to see what’s coming for maximum productivity. However, that doesn’t always seem to go as planned.
Today is a day to catch up on blog posts because I have a lull — the first one in months. This would typically freak me out and put me into panic mode but now I see this as an opportunity to spend the day on other productive tasks that I usually have no time to even think about let alone do. This means marketing myself to more potential clients, doing research for long-term projects, and getting in more exercise and even a lunch with a friend. I even see it as a relief now after working weeks on end with no weekends off or chunks of free time.
If you want to know when this lull is coming or you want to create your own, then there are some ways to control this so you aren’t caught off guard by a quiet day:
- Ask your clients to create a monthly schedule of work that they need you to complete and state that they can also add in more on short notice. The idea is to get a month of work in advance so you can see what have to produce for them as well as your other clients so you can portion out the assignments across each week for a more effective schedule. The only part about lulls that is tough for me is that I could have taken on other work had I known that a client would not need me for a few days.
- Learn to say, “no,” when you see that you are already overwhelmed. Better yet, let your clients know that you could take the work if they could provide more notice or extend the deadline. Saying no to work was difficult to me but I’ve learned that it pays off to not take on too much. When this happens, quality can suffer, impacting the long-term relationship with my client. Instead, I’d rather have more free time to recharge the mental and physical batteries to produce the best work possible.
- Take charge of your schedule and plan your work around your other life events. I used to think I had to wait for clients to tell me when they had to work but now I let them know when I’m available. That gives me the time I need to maintain my marketing, balance my life, and ensure I maintain a steady workflow. Since being proactive, I’ve actually made more money, been more productive, and had more time to do things I need and want to do.
Of course, there are still hose unexpected lulls in your time so jump on them and use the time effectively until the next wave of work comes through.