Staying Organized as a Freelancer

Are you having trouble staying organized as a freelancer? Do you play Video Games? This one's for you.

When you're working as a freelancer; it can be difficult to stay on track when managing multiple clients; especially if you're working from home.  If you're having trouble, just remember that life as a freelancer is a bit like a Role Playing Game.  Not following?  Allow me to explain.  

There are a few basic elements to your standard RPG; there's your inventory, your quest log, the NPCs that you interact with throughout the game, and a list of people that you occasionally group up with.  I'm not going anywhere near PVP.  To explain my point; we'll use this basic paradigm as the backbone of my argument.  (Warning; this post is about to go full blown video game nerd)

Your Clients are your NPCs

There will always be grind quests; it’s part of gaining experience.  But just because you find yourself grinding tasks that may not be appealing to you doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.  It’s all part of leveling;  it’s how you make sure you have a high enough level to go after new quests.

There’s a joke to be made here about NPCs always standing around just asking you to run errands for them.  

But seriously; NPCs giving quests is a perfect analogy for your clients.  They need you to do things that, for one reason or another, they themselves cannot do.  It is your job to take their requirements, understand what they need, go out and do the work, and turn it in for your reward.

There will always be grind quests; it’s part of gaining experience.  But just because you find yourself grinding tasks that may not be appealing to you doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.  It’s all part of leveling;  it’s how you make sure you have a high enough level to go after new quests.

Your clients are people that all need something done.  They’re turning to you as the expert, and it’s your duty to make sure that the job is done and done correctly.  So they presume you know what you’re doing; make sure you don’t let them down, and you’ll increase the likelihood of staying employed.

 

Google Drive is your Inventory

That pavlovian response that you get in the virtual world; the sparkling color explosion, the coins or item, the experience, gaining a new level, the NPC giving you a new quest, are all part of what makes playing the game so much fun.

What’s the golden rule of finishing a quest?  Make sure you ALWAYS have the right items in your inventory to get credit for it.  

You could spend hours scouring the earth in search of the proper items, kills and tasks in order to complete the quest, but it could all be for nothing if you go to turn it in only to find that you have to run back and get something you forgot.  You need to make sure that your inventory is organized and you’ve hit every part of the quest requirements in order to get credit for it.

That pavlovian response that you get in the virtual world; the sparkling color explosion, the coins or item, the experience, gaining a new level, the NPC giving you a new quest, are all part of what makes playing the game so much fun.  This translates perfectly to the real world.  Getting that invoice paid, maybe gaining additional work from the client, or a referral to a new client is all very exciting, and it’s part of what makes your work worthwhile.

Having a repository for required items in Google Drive allows you to make sure that you have everything in order; every work order, every piece of information required to get the job done, a paper trail of issues communicated and detailed out, the original agreement.  It’s all part of getting your ducks in a row and making sure that you have the level of confidence required that your project is complete when you finally turn it in.

Trello is your quest log

Your quest journal will help you keep organized and stay on track.
Trello is a great way to keep track of your concurrent projects quickly and easily.

Being able to take a step back and look at your boards at a higher level is a great way to keep yourself reminded of the projects that you need to handle.  If you’re ever feeling lost or like you don’t know where to go next or what to do; just open your quest log.  Chances are there are plenty of things that require your attention.

Every project has requirements and tasks; just like every quest.  

Look at a service like Trello as your quest log; creating boards and swimlanes with tasks described and moving down the board is perfect for making sure that you’re meeting the right requirements for the job, but also great for managing multiple clients or projects.

Being able to take a step back and look at your boards at a higher level is a great way to keep yourself reminded of the projects that you need to handle.  If you’re ever feeling lost or like you don’t know where to go next or what to do; just open your quest log.  Chances are there are plenty of things that require your attention.

Keeping track of multiple moving parts at once and having the ability to quickly reference multiple client projects helps to keep you focused.  If you’re stuck on one thing, move onto something else.  Just move the needle on a project.  If not one, then another.  There should always be something to do; all you have to do is look.

 

Slack is your Group Chat

Warning: don’t send the wizard in too early or they might draw aggro and get waffled, ruining the raid for everyone.  A bad wizard will always, ALWAYS need a heal (typical).  A good one knows what to cast and when.

A tank, a healer, a ranger, a wizard and an enchanter walk into a bar.   Except the bar is a castle, and the bartender is a giant dragon that’s at the end of the raid.  

It may not be every day, but every now and then you’re required to raid to get a larger quest done.  Okay okay; we know a raid is often more than one group of people; calm down.  It’s not going to be a perfect analogy here.  Point being; the boss mob is the project that you’re working on.  Do you have the right team assembled to do the job?  Does everyone meet the proper level requirements?  You need to make sure you have all of your bases covered for a successful operation; right?

Well, your project manager is your healer; responsible for handling errors and planning corrections.  Your enchanter is your QA person; perfect for crowd control and calling out adds (sidebar: adds are issues; do I really have to explain this?).  The tank is your lead developer; someone to take the hits while others are working behind the scenes.  A second developer is your ranger; perfect for taking on adds. Finally; the designer is your wizard; make everything flashy and you can send them in last minute for the final kill.  Warning: don’t send the wizard in too early or they might draw aggro and get waffled, ruining the raid for everyone.  A bad wizard will always, ALWAYS need a heal (typical).  A good one knows what to cast and when.

Sorry; let me get back on track.  Using an application like Slack is perfect for keeping in communication with your team members.  If you need something that requires more than one person or you need a hand with something; it’s always good to have a few people that you work with or talk to on a regular basis.  This is especially true if the people that you’re talking to have skills that are outside of your own skillset.  

 

Did you make it all the way through that nerd-fest? Ding!  

Phew, that was a long one; thanks for hangin in there with me for it.  You've completed your quest for the morning, and hopefully you've learned something here.  Staying organized as a freelancer can be quite a daunting task when you have consecutive projects going at once.  Just remember that you can always leverage the people and tools that you have at your disposal and never stop the grind; it's how you gain enough experience to move on.

Hey, Listen!  Quit throwing pots and go do your job.  Stop cutting the grass for deku nuts.  There's a dead tree somewhere that needs its spiders purged.

As always; if you need any help completing your quest; feel free to Drop Us a Line Here's to endgame content!

-- Chris

 

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