If you’re a freelance designer, there will probably come a time when you will either want or need to take on a few extra clients. However, it can be difficult to squeeze in more business if you already feel overwhelmed with what’s on your plate.
The good news is there’s plenty you can do to reduce that overwhelm and become more efficient. Today, we’ll go over how to make room in a busy schedule for extra clients or projects without sacrificing the quality of your output.
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Most people, when they start on a new project, tackle it from the top. That is, they’ll begin working on one thing until that thing is done. This is a highly inefficient method of getting work done, and designers, in particular, can greatly benefit from what’s commonly called “chunking” or blocking tasks.
Chunking is a productivity tactic that allows you to work in an “assembly line” style, thereby finishing several projects simultaneously in phases.
I use this tactic all the time, with both my design and writing work. It works so well for me that many clients are actually stunned at how fast I can get things done, with zero loss in quality.
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Schedule a day just for planning
As we accumulate more responsibilities throughout our week, we slowly get more and more overwhelmed by everything that’s demanding our attention. Thinking and planning our work, believe it or not, can drain us and make us less likely to actually finish it.
That’s why it’s important to plan before you actually have to work.
It’s worth setting aside an entire day just to plan what you’re going to do over the coming days, weeks, or months, to avoid having it trip you up later. I recommend doing this over the weekend, but a weekday can work too, if your schedule is flexible enough.
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Instead of letting yourself get completely overwhelmed by all the things you have to do for a new project, try approaching each task with an attitude of curiosity. Just think: once you learn or implement something new, you’ll be able to do it forever. You’ll never have to re-learn that thing.
That adds to your confidence, because you now have a new piece of knowledge to store in your vault. This is especially good news if you’ve just finished a difficult bit of code or a design element that can be reused for later projects. Once certain work is done, it never has to be done again from scratch.
Imagine if you were perfectly competent and able to juggle, say, 2 or 3 more client projects than you currently do. How would you go about doing it? You might think that if you were totally competent and efficient, your problems would solve themselves, but humor me for a minute anyway.
It may sound silly, but role-playing a really motivated, knowledgable person allows you to think about how he or she might handle the schedule you’re struggling with. You may be surprised at how many productivity roadblocks you think you have will disappear once you free yourself from thinking about them.
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Become more efficient
You can’t be an expert in everything. Remember that even the most competent designer has weaknesses. It might be worth outsourcing parts of your project to other independent contractors (provided your client has no problem with it) so that you’re able to accept more work, as well as focus more on the type of work you enjoy best and are really good at.
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If being effective is doing the right things, being efficient is doing things right. Both are important to a successful design business.
Success is nothing more than experience. If you drive, you remember what it was like when you first got behind the wheel and started learning. It probably took you many years of driving every day to become confident enough that it became second nature to you. Oftentimes it simply takes looking at a problem from a new angle to more easily come up with a solution.