Working as a freelancer, a contractor, a solopreneur, or as any other self-employed entrepreneur is a lot of work. Not only do you need to execute your craft professionally, but you need to tend to a variety of administrative tasks, too.
Finding clients, scheduling work, invoicing, paying bills, and doing your taxes are just some of the many things that the self-employed life regularly demands. And that doesn’t even start to tap into the endless personal duties and responsibilities that everyone has in their private lives.
If you’re a self-employed individual, being organized can be your lifeline to both sanity and success. This doesn’t just mean having an organized mindset. You also need to actively apply the discipline.
In other words, you need to know what parts of your life to actively organize. Here are a few top organizational priorities to keep in mind.
1. Your Personal and Professional Lives
First and foremost, you need to consider work-life balance. As a self-employed individual, it’s easy to blur the lines between your personal life and your professional activities. This is especially true if you’re a writer, marketer, blogger, or another desk-bound individual who works from home.
The first place to address organization is with this line between yourself and your business. Make sure that you’ve set clear boundaries, such as:
- Creating a designated workspace separate from the rest of your living space.
- Setting approximate work hours that you can use to both plug into and then unplug from work each day.
- Informing your friends and families about when you’re working and when you’re off the clock.
Delineating the lines between your personal and professional pursuits is a critical step in keeping your life organized, productive, and sustainable.
2. Your Workspace
The area where you work may change at times. You might find yourself out on a photo shoot or writing at a coffee shop. However, the bulk of your self-employed work hours will likely take place in your home office.
With so much time being spent in that workspace, you must keep it organized. Start by setting up a cleaning schedule to declutter your space. This can help you stay calm and stress-free as you work.
Additionally, consider going paperless with your documentation whenever possible. Paperless activity is much easier to both store and locate when it’s needed — which can help you stay more organized.
Along with decluttering, also plan in times to thoroughly clean your office. Dusting, vacuuming, and wiping down surfaces can help improve your health as you work.
3. Your Finances
Your self-employment finances is another area that can easily slide into confusion. You can take steps to stay fiscally organized by:
- Keeping your business and personal bank accounts separate;
- Making a solid and updated freelance budget that helps you live at or below your means;
- Setting up a clear financial system that utilizes banking apps, invoice generators, and other financial tools.
- Creating a predictable formula to set aside and pay taxes when you’re paid by clients.
Your finances will perpetually want to get out of hand when you’re self-employed. This can be both because of a lack of income as well as a larger influx of payments all at once. In either case, you want to have a system in place to help you stay organized.
4. Your Clients
For most self-employed individuals, their clients are their lifeline to success. This makes tending to your clients a critical priority.
However, in areas like freelance writing or blogging, it’s easy to have a rapid turnover of clientele. It’s also common to have clients that vary in priority.
It’s important to take time to keep your clients organized at all times. You can do this by:
- Prioritizing which clients should be tended to first;
- Actively avoiding overscheduling so that you can fully pay attention to each client’s needs;
- Keeping your communication channels well-organized so that you know which clients use (and even prefer) what forms of communication.
The more organized you can be with your clients, the less turnover you’ll have to deal with.
5. Your Job-Generating Toolkit
No matter how well you care for your clients, at times you’ll need new ones. When that happens, you want to have your job-generating toolkit well organized and ready to go. Things to keep in mind include:
- Keeping your resume streamlined, updated, and balanced with just the right information.
- Organizing your headshots, cover letter templates, and other application docs in the same folder.
- Updating and perfecting your social media profiles like LinkedIn
Staying organized in this area can minimize the impact that you feel any time you have a slump in your workflow.
6. Your Portfolio
The one other area of your job-hunting toolkit that is essential is your portfolio. It’s so important to getting more clients, it’s getting its own section.
As a self-employed individual, your portfolio stands as a testament to the work that you can accomplish. It is an irrefutable witness of your ability to come through for your clients.
However, if your portfolio is lackluster or unkempt, it can also become a deterrent as potential clients consider your services. Take the time to keep your portfolio up to date. Make sure that it is well-organized, easy to access, and has important pieces of information along with your samples, such as:
- A copy of your resume.
- A clear description of what you do.
- Testimonials from past customers.
- Case studies of your work if you have any.
- Contact information.
Your portfolio can either make or break your first impression with a client. Make sure that it’s organized and ready to go at all times.
Staying Organized in Your Business
There are many factors that you need to keep in mind as a self-employed person. Finding clients, getting work, sending invoices, paying taxes, and of course, doing the work itself must all factor into your daily grind.
This can make it very easy to slip into a permanent state of disorganization. When that happens, it can seriously hamper your productivity and professionalism.
So do your best to invest in staying organized. From your job-generating toolkit to your clients, your finances, and even your work-life balance, always keep a finger on the pulse of your overall organization. If you can do that, your business will be able to thrive in ways that you could never replicate in a messy or cluttered work environment.