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A freelancer’s guide to managing multiple projects

Written 11 April, 2018, 2 minutes to read

It’s happening. After a bit of on-and-off, you’re now going steady with a client. But things are also getting pretty serious with that agency you freelance for… And then what about those odd jobs you do on the side? Do you have time for a casual one-off project?

Juggling project work as a freelancer can be daunting. But once you’ve adjusted to the pace, it’s actually quite simple. To help you get there, we've put together this handy guide to managing multiple projects. You just need to track and control of the following project components:

Project tasks

Before quoting or committing to a project, break down all the phases and separate tasks it will involve. Use similar previous projects to guide how long each will take. Review your workflow and see where you have breathing space, if there’s anything you can cut out and what might slow you down.

Monitor your project activity as you go to ensure you’re sticking to your plan. It will also help to identify potential bottlenecks and inefficiencies.

Review each completed project to improve the accuracy of time estimations and your own productivity.

Project time

You need a basic grip on how you’re spending time across your projects. Keep track of: planned time, time spent on different project tasks, time available for new work, protected time for essential business admin, time you’ve billed for and time that hasn’t yet been invoiced. The more ordered your time, the easier and quicker it is to invoice for it. Time visibility is also essential for staying in control of all your projects.

You should track project time even if you don’t bill by the hour, to help improve future estimations and your own productivity.

Keep an eye on how you actually spend time across your clients to make sure everyone is getting the right attention.


Project organization

Everything you do as a freelancer should be laid out in a way that makes it easy for you to manage all your weekly commitments and your capacity. Most people opt for a calendar to plan the basics: schedule meetings, plan in work, highlight deadlines and quickly find free time. But you should also think about an easy way to structure tasks and progress for each project, to ensure you know your priorities.

The time you spend using task management tools like Trello and Asana to order projects should be factored into your project deadline estimates.

Take a look at the time you’re spending on each project task to ensure you’re actually focusing on the most important work.


Project reporting

Reporting makes everyone’s life easier. To be in control of your projects, you need to be able to quickly check budget spend, task progress and deadlines, as well as your own capacity and productivity. Clients can request status updates at any point, so you need to be able to present a comprehensive, accurate overview of project performance.

Many clients request an itemized account of how their money was spent along with your invoice.

Clean and slick reports can do wonders for establishing your own image as a mature and accountable professional.


Project communication

Many freelancers forget to record the huge communications slice of their work. You need visibility of all the client calls, emails, on-site meetings and walkthroughs that go into each project. Without it you can’t accurately scope project length, bill for all your rightful project hours or tackle inefficiencies in your workflow.

Not everything requires a meeting. Cut down on needless time-intensive communication wherever you can.

Tracking your location can show you how long your client meeting actually takes you. Travel, room changes, technology hold-ups and late attendees all add up.

Apps are your friends

If you can manage all of the above manually to the degree of accuracy that strong project management requires, you are a genius. But for those who would rather just get on with the interesting parts of our work, think about getting these apps to help you manage multiple projects:

- Scheduling calendar app

- Task organizer app

- Time tracking app

Want them all in one app? Of course you do. Take a look at Timely: it captures all your project time and activity into one space for simple reporting, monitoring and accounting. It can even track your location on mobile and record the time you spend on client calls.

Can this really be true? Try out the entire app for free and see for yourself. It’s available for download on every device you use for your freelance work.

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