Hey, friends! It’s Wednesday, which I officially decided is my day to share various business, entrepreneurship and self-development content. Did you miss that little announcement? You can check that out right here.
One of the biggest challenges I face as a full-time freelancer is prioritizing my variety of tasks on any given day. After a bit of a roadblock very early in my freelancing career, I placed a huge emphasis on diversifying my income. That way, if I ever lost a client or a project, I wasn’t losing a huge chunk of, or even worse, ALL of my income.
Being diversified is great. But, it also means that I feel like I have an ever growing and evolving to do list of projects and pieces. Right now, I’m working with a total of about 10 clients (along with managing this little blog here). My clients include a range of projects, from short blog posts or longer, more academic articles to social media management and opinion writing.
Naturally, when you’re juggling a variety of tasks, you’re also juggling a variety of deadlines. Being a freelance writer is extremely deadline-intensive, and I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve never missed a deadline. So, although I’m still figuring out the perfect system for keeping all of my work and materials organized, I like to think I have a pretty decent handle on all of my stuff.
Whether you need to prioritize work tasks, errands or chores around the house, having a plan of attack is important. And, what good is knowledge if you can’t share it, right? Here’s a few tips to help you prioritize like a pro.
Obviously, when figuring out what needs to come first on your to do list, you need to pay close attention to your deadlines. Whip out your planner and take a good look at what deadline is fast approaching, and what things you have a bit more time for. This will help you make sure that you’re tackling tasks in the right order.
I used to have a somewhat bad habit of putting things off. I’d never call myself a procrastinator, but I had the tendency to work on something with a longer deadline first, just because I didn’t feel like starting the project with the shorter deadline. Treat deadlines like the law, and you’ll save yourself a lot of stress down the road.
While I think that prioritizing by deadline is super important, that’s not always the easiest thing to do. If you’re anything like me, it takes you a while to sort of ease into work in the morning.
I like to take some time in the morning to sip my Caffe Mocha and cross a few simple, small tasks off of my to do list. By the time I’ve responded to blog comments, answered a few e-mails or moved some money around between my bank accounts, I’m feeling organized, awake and ready to tackle some bigger projects.
Every morning (or the night before, depending on how ambitious I’m feeling), I make a list of the things that I want to get done that day. This helps me have a tangible visual of everything that I need to get done throughout the day. On my list, I also like to group similar things together in sections, to make it easier to see how many tasks I need to do for each specific client.
I know there are plenty of fancy apps that can help you prioritize and make lists. I’m sorry, but physically scratching things off my paper list just feels too darn good to give up.
Making a list is great, but you need to be realistic about the amount of projects you’re putting on your list. Admittedly, this is something that I think I’ll constantly struggle with. I tend to make a “daily” to do list that probably looks more like a “weekly” to do list, and then get discouraged when not everything is crossed off at the end of the day.
Remember, there are only so many hours in the day. And, no matter how productive you plan on being that day, unexpected things have a way of popping up and throwing a wrench in your plans! Be honest with yourself when making your to do list to avoid feeling overwhelmed or dispirited.
As easy as it can be to get discouraged by all of the things that you didn’t get done, reflect and take a look at all of the things you DID get done that day! Don’t bother beating yourself up about the things you didn’t get accomplished… it just won’t do you any good. If you didn’t get everything crossed of your to do list today, remember that tomorrow is a brand new day and you’ll have a fresh start to keep chipping away at your to do list!
Until next time!