Top tips for tip-top freelancer organisational skills

Photographer planning a photo shooting

You are your own boss but are you bossy enough with yourself and do you have the self-discipline to be as organised as you know you should be?

You’re a freelancer and you’re brilliant at what you do. You love the independence it gives you, although sometimes you might feel you could do with a little less of the inconsistency in your workload and the occasional uncertainty about where the next job is coming from.

Of course, your clients aren’t aware of the fact that you are juggling quite a few of them at the same time, you do it so well, but in the meantime paperwork is piling up, the expenses file is getting out of control and the HMRC self-assessment deadline is looming.

Here are our top tips on being organised and keeping your head above water.

Separate work and home
The ideal scenario is to have a workspace outside your home, but not many of us have that at the moment. Even in ‘normal’ times your budget requires you to work from your home office, or indeed that might be your preference. Whatever the case, try to keep your workspace to a defined area within your home, and if possible maintain a clear desk policy. A cluttered desk makes for a cluttered mind with less space for rational thought.

Keep your notes in one place
We’ve all done it. Been on the phone and reached for the nearest available scrap of paper to makes notes only to find that is has vanished in to thin air when you come to look for it. A specific workbook in which to write everything down in one place can help save precious time.

Be disciplined about your working hours
There are few 24/7 businesses so why should yours be? Define and make known your regular core working hours and as much as possible try to stick to them.

Female interior designer working at home office

Schedule tasks and assignments
You know the times during the day and week when you are most alert and productive so schedule your time accordingly. Best not to leave your most tedious tasks for when you are the most lethargic. Structuring your week will help you keep on top of things.

Respond promptly to emails
An inbox is pretty much a ‘to do’ list so responding to emails as they come in will keep things manageable and ensure that they don’t get forgotten. Even if its a case of replying with a holding email – while making a note to respond in full at a later date – is preferable to forgetting about a request from your most important client.

Know your limits
Overcommitting isn’t helpful to your client or to you, particularly if you have to rush a job or not have the time to complete it to the best of your ability. Be strategic about how much work you take on and for whom. Know your limitations, everyone has them. Perhaps its better to prioritise longer-term jobs which could provide continued sustainable income over the smaller, fun projects.

Being able to say no is a life skill (one I’m still yet to master) but you went into freelancing in order to have control over your own destiny, so exercise that power if you need to.


Posted by Julie Tucker (ex-freelancer of 16 years)

Images courtesy of Press Association