“When we start in business, we seem to have a huge FOMO that if we don’t make ourselves available at all times to clients, we will lose business,” Sonal Bhaskaran states. As the Founder of 5S Projects and a business process consultant, Bhaskaran understands how valuable a freelancer’s time is and how challenging managing multiple clients can be. She’s experienced it in her own work.
For many freelancers, having just one client is not enough to cover all expenses. Consequently, most work on simultaneous projects for profit. Others take on overlapping projects to ensure continuous income when one ends. However, as normal as this situation is, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
“For me, diary management is key,” Bhaskaran says. “If you don’t control your time, others will control it for you, and you’ll just run yourself down.” Other freelancers agree and offer various ways to manage time effectively, ensuring deadlines are met, nothing falls through the cracks, and sanity is maintained.
- Time blocking for the win
When taking on multiple clients, it’s essential to understand prioritization. You don’t want to realize at day’s end that a task due tomorrow was missed, forcing an all-nighter.
“I start the day with a block of time for my biggest client,” says Anne Rogers, a freelance photographer and writer. “I then have other blocks throughout the day for other clients.” She explains this isn’t a strict rule, as she occasionally shifts blocks to accommodate deadlines and events. “I also run a timesheet with specific time allocated to clients, so I can easily see if one is over-dominating.”
Bhaskaran’s task management approach goes a step further, working backward from outcomes. “The client and I look at the end goal and ask what steps we need to take to achieve that goal. That gives a starting point with a timeframe working up to the end date.” She then blocks smaller steps into her calendar, leading to the end goal.
You can also block communications, preventing interruptions during deep work. Inform clients of your availability on specific days, creating a clear division between them. Ask them to be more available during those days for quick answers and avoiding bottlenecks.
2. Automation at the beginning pays off down the line
Once established in your field, you’ll notice some tasks become repetitive. Automating tasks like quotes, onboarding, and invoicing using software like UnderPinned can free up time and reduce mental load.
Create a client kick-off form, request all necessary information to start a project, and eliminate lengthy calls. Set automatic email reminders through UnderPinned to avoid chasing invoices. Write a template for quotes with common prices and services. Use a scheduling tool synced with your calendar to prevent email back-and-forth.
Don’t forget about outsourcing
Multiple clients often signify business growth. Consider outsourcing time-consuming and mundane tasks at this point.
From transcribing interviews to managing social media accounts or creating presentations, if it’s not your primary job, let someone else handle it. Find professionals on the UnderPinned network, even for one-off assignments.
For recurring tasks you dislike, hire a virtual assistant skilled in customer service and inbox management.
3. Better understand your workflow
After applying these practical tips, delve deeper. Bruce Stanley, Founder of Day Crafting, helps people improve and perfect their days around their strengths, energy, and scheduling preferences for satisfying productivity, greater resilience, balance, and wellbeing.
This principle resembles time blocking but focuses on strengths instead of clients and deadlines. “An hour of deep work during someone’s cognitive peak is worth two or more at any other time,” Stanley explains. “This is a predictable time to protect.”
Start by noticing when tasks are easily completed and when you get stuck. Note it down and adjust your days accordingly
4. Outsourcing non-key tasks
Outsourcing can alleviate workload and help you focus on more critical aspects of your business. As your enterprise grows, delegating tasks becomes essential for efficiency.
Determine which tasks can be outsourced to save time and energy, such as managing social media accounts or creating presentations. Platforms like UnderPinned can help you find professionals for specific tasks, even for one-off assignments. Finally, a virtual assistant can manage various tasks, from customer service to organizing your inbox, providing valuable support as you manage multiple clients.
5. Dropping clients
As your business evolves, it’s crucial to assess the value and profitability of each client, ensuring you maintain a balanced workload.
Assess the quality of your working relationship with each client. If communication is consistently challenging or the client is unreasonably demanding, it might be time to consider dropping them. Next, review the financial aspect of your relationship with clients. If a client’s projects consume a considerable amount of time but yield low profits, it may be beneficial to let them go and focus on more lucrative opportunities. Before dropping a client, try setting boundaries, such as limiting revisions or defining specific communication hours. If the client fails to respect these boundaries, you may need to part ways. Consider the long-term potential of each client. While some may not be profitable now, they could bring value in the future. Weigh the pros and cons of keeping them on board. Finally, when dropping a client, always maintain professionalism. Provide ample notice, complete outstanding work, and offer referrals to other professionals if needed.
Outsourcing and periodically evaluating your client roster will ensure you optimize your time and resources. This approach helps maintain a balanced workload, reduces stress, and allows you to focus on the most valuable aspects of your business.
But the most important thing to remember, especially when you juggle multiple clients, is to always give yourself breaks. Breaks for eating, exercising, doing hobbies, and simply relaxing; all of which will re-energize you and better prepare you for the work ahead.