As a freelancer, your reputation is everything. If you become known as someone who can’t meet deadlines, your entire business could be on the line. If you often find yourself racing against the clock to meet your deadlines, this article is for you.
In the freelancing industry, being able to manage your projects independently and deliver your work before deadlines is an essential requirement. However, even the most organized of people can often find work piling on top of them and leave us stressed to meet all our deadlines.
In this article, we’ve listed some essential strategies and tips for how to deal with a tight deadline.
How to Manage Tight Deadlines
1) Don’t Take on Too Much Work
One of the biggest reasons freelancers struggle with meeting tight deadlines is because they simply have too much work!
While it can be tempting to say yes to all the opportunities that come your way, the rise in income might not always be worth the amount of time you will be required to put in. Carefully consider whether you actually have room for each project before you agree to a deadline for it – being sure not to overcommit is the best way to avoid a tight deadline you can’t meet.
2) Manage Your Projects Correctly
All freelancers work differently. Some are meticulously organized with planners and checklists and reminders, while others prefer to juggle their projects in their heads.
The fact is, unless you are managing your projects properly, something will slip one day. Avoid having to rush to meet the deadline for your projects by managing them correctly.
This means using a project management app such as Trello or Asana, and tracking all the projects you have on at any one time. Creating checklists and time-blocking when you will do certain tasks is also a great way of ensuring you are consistent with your work and not left in a sudden rush at the end.
3) Prioritize Your Work
One of the greatest things about being a freelancer is that no two days are ever the same. However, this can also mean you start your day with multiple tasks to do – and no idea where to start.
Make a habit of creating priority lists for your work. Take into account the size of a project (and break this down into more easily managed blocks), how tight the deadline is, and how long tasks will take you.
Prioritizing your work will ensure you meet your deadlines without hassle, and never leave you racing to finish one forgotten task at the last minute.
4) Minimize Distractions
Do you have a home office where you always work or are you a digital nomad who prefers any flat surface in your hotel or a local coffee shop?
Wherever you are, there are always going to be distractions that can lead to you feeling unable to meet a tight deadline.
Aim to minimize distractions wherever possible, from clearing your desktop of unnecessary apps and tabs to creating a clutter-free work surface that will allow you to focus. Creating a really fantastic playlist can also be a great way of blocking potential distractions.
Here’s a Spotify playlist that we recommend you to stay focused.
5) Communicate with Your Clients
Sometimes, despite all our best-laid plans, life just gets in the way, leaving us unable to meet deadlines. Most clients will understand this – after all, you’re only human!
If you’re sick or something unexpected has come up leaving you unable to meet a tight deadline, communication is key.
Reach out to your client, explain your circumstances, and ask for an extension on your project. Yes, it may inconvenience them, but reaching out is far better than offering no explanation or rushing and delivering a poor-quality job.
Overall, learning how to manage tight deadlines all comes down to being consistent, organized, and realistic. While it can be tempting to take on as many projects as possible, it is always better to have fewer projects and be able to deliver your highest-quality work to your existing clients.
Deadlines can make or break a freelancer’s career, so getting on top of your work now is the best thing you can do.
When are you the most productive? At home, working in the mornings? Out in an empty cafe in the evenings? Find the processes that work you for and stick to them, and rushing to meet a tight deadline will be a thing of the past for you!