In the world of freelancing, REPUTATION is everything. And it’s not enough that you have established it. You will also have to maintain it by keeping a positive and healthy working relationship with your clients and co-workers.
One way to keep this relationship with all those people growing is to manage their expectations. And one of these important expectations that you need to be clear of when working with any client or remote employer is your AVAILABILITY.
Your current availability needs to be stated clearly and openly because it will prevent a lot of misunderstandings and disappointments in the long run. Not to mention this can further jeopardise your reputation.
The potential employers need to know your REAL AVAILABILITY as this will help them assess how long it’ll take or how soon they can get a project completed.
This lesson will guide you in deciding what your real availability for work is. For start, decide on your working hours and stick to them as much as possible. Here’s why it matters.
Stating Specific Days and Time
You need to be specific especially if you’re only available on particular days. For example, you might only be available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Then state you’re only available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
Following the same logic, you may be available to work during all working days of the week, but only after 3:00 pm your time. That is also something your employer should know about.
This makes it easier for clients when to get in touch with you. You have to make it clear to them when exactly you are available so they are sure to get a response when they try to get updates from you.
Take a peek at this work-at-home resume example with availability included among other core qualifications to see how it can be done.
You see what we mean?
Note: It’s possible to use this resume sample and customise it to your needs. Just follow the link provided above to find out more.
Nevertheless, if you want to be quite broad by using “usual business hours”, it also helps to have a regularly set time to accept calls from your clients who want to reach you. This will not only help you focus during times when you need to concentrate, this will also make it easy for them to know exactly when they can hear from you again.
Here is a HYPOTHETICAL example to illustrate why this is so important:
Employer and the Candidate agree on 15 hours of work per week. However, the Candidate fails to explain that they are only available on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, after 5:00 pm.
The Candidate puts in their 15 hours a work in those three days, but the Employer is confused because they cannot reach the Candidate for the better part of the week.
The Employer is disappointed because they feel that the Candidate lacks communication skills and is not taking their project seriously.
The Candidate is disappointed because they feel their effort is not acknowledged since they meet the required weekly workload.
The entire unpleasant situation would have been prevented if the Candidate had clearly stated the specific days and time when they were available.
Got it now?
As a freelancer, it’s true you can mostly choose your working hours and take full control of your day, but it does NOT imply a total lack of your time organisation. Therefore, get organised as you like it, and present that to your employer so that you clearly state when you can be expected to work and respond to messages.
That’s certainly NOT what flexible working hours mean!
Remember, time flexibility does not mean a lack of structure to your day.
When you start your time management, make sure you set realistic goals. Here’s how to achieve that.
Being Realistic About Your Current Availability
There is nothing more annoying than a freelancer who says he is available but never gets the work done. Not only this is frustrating for an employer, but it also leads to a disappointing outcome, and eventually, the end of a working relationship.
No, no – not like that! Here’s what we meant by honesty.
If you are only available for one day per week, then don’t make them think you’re available five days a week. If you can only spend 20 hours on a project in a week, then don’t say you’re available for the entire 40 work hours of the week.
If you’re working with multiple employers, do not overpromise about your availability. Instead, decide whether your schedule can still take on one more client.
However, if you’re looking for a full-time role, that’s when you can tell them you’re available from Mondays through Fridays. Just make sure to stick to it because the client will be expecting you to report for work on those days you said you are available.
This doesn’t mean that candidates don’t have good intentions.
In most cases, people overpromise, not because they are trying to trick somebody, but because they are not aware of how much time they truly have.
Otherwise, this would be considered a benign mistake, but in online work, your time management is of essential value. Some projects are time-sensitive and your inability to deliver in time can hurt your employer’s business.
For example, imagine this situation:
This means that you need to think long and hard before committing to a certain amount of time. If you are not that great at time management, there are several useful resources which can help you hone that skill:
- Time Management article and courses on Mind Tools
- Time Management course on Alison
- Time Management course on Work Life Balance
If you finally decide you can commit to working for more than one online employer, it’s crucial for you to manage the time you dedicate to each of them professionally and effectively. Let’s see what to take into consideration in such a situation.
Successfully Managing Multiple Employers
It’s critical for an employer to know if you really have the time to take on another client or project. They need to be assured that their project will be well taken care of.
Be clear whether you have 3 other projects in the queue or 5 full-time clients. Do note that some employers want your full attention and focus on their projects especially if they want to hire you for full-time work. In cases like these, you might need to get rid of an old client to accommodate a new one.
Here’s a HYPOTHETICAL example:
An Employer meets a Candidate who promises that they can work 20 hours a week and get the work done. The reality is that the Candidate has overpromised and will therefore underdeliver.
The Candidate *thinks* that they have 20 hours available, but they have 2 children and 3 other clients. This leaves about 10 TRUE hours available, and they have many distractions in their household because one of the children is still at home.
The Candidate is never able to catch up on the work that has been allocated. The Candidate is a good person and had very good intentions. The Candidate really wants the job, but they just can’t say no to the other Clients or to other commitments in their life.
The Candidate ends up feeling upset and negative toward the Employer, who has been pushing for the deadlines to be met. And, the Employer feels bad about pushing for the work to be finished, and annoyed that their work is pushed aside.
So, it is ENORMOUSLY important that a Candidate can truly recognise how to manage their time and whether they do indeed have AVAILABILITY to take on a new opportunity with a new client.
That’s how significant it is for every freelancer to understand how to truthfully assess their availability. This will not only help you build an honest and healthy relationship with your employer but also help you avoid overpromising which might lead to underdelivering, and eventually affect your reputation as a freelancer.
To be able to accurately assess your availability, try asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you think you need to get rid of an old client to make way for a new client?
- Should you set lower expectations for the new employer, or to set longer timeframes?
- Do you need to improve your time management skills so you can use your day more effectively?
- Have you physically measured, and not just guessed, how many real hours you have available?
- Will you be able to break big projects up into smaller tasks?
In order to figure all this out and set your career goals and expectations properly, you should be aware of your time management skills and how productive you can be vs. how productive you really are. Remember:
Thus, let’s have a word on that topic, just to raise awareness about it.
How to Manage Your Time and Workload
We all want to be as productive as possible and to have as much free time as possible, right?
Easier said than done, yet not impossible with some help of the right tools and a positive proactive attitude. It’s definitely worth the effort since it brings happiness, satisfaction and fulfillment to your life. More importantly, it brings the perfect work-life balance. Isn’t it what we all strive for?
To be able to estimate exactly how many hours a week you can commit to working for your online employer or more of them without your private life suffering, here’s what you need to know and take into account.
Juggling several clients at the same time while delivering quality work is a skill that involves careful planning and execution.
If the thought of delivering quality work to an increasing number of different clients seems daunting, don’t worry! Take a deep breath and have a look at these Time Management Techniques for Busy Freelancers.
What else can you do to become more productive?
Use a system and a schedule.
Start scheduling your to-do list with blocks of time, arranged in priority sequence with a calendar app. Google Calendar is a great free option and will easily sync with most calendar apps on mobile devices. Allow desktop or mobile notifications so you are made aware of when it is time to start the next task.
You can also try Pomodoro, a popular system by which you set a timer that will buzz in 25-minute increments. Once you have been through four, you are instructed to take a break.
When you start out, don’t get discouraged if you find yourself running out of blocked time on items before you’ve actually finished them. If you have never lived by a schedule before, it takes some trial and error to get the timing right.
Eventually, you will become more knowledgeable about just how long certain tasks take. Not only can this help with your productivity, it can also help uncover if you are not charging enough for your time!
For more tips, refer to the full article 7 Ways to be More Productive at Work.
You wonder how come scheduling is so critical for making the best use of your time? Here’s why it matters.
Scheduling is the art of planning your activities so that you can achieve your goals and priorities in the time you have available. When it’s done effectively, it helps you:
- Understand what you can realistically achieve with your time
- Make sure you have enough time for essential tasks
- Add contingency time for “the unexpected”
- Avoid taking on more than you can handle
- Work steadily toward your personal and career goals
- Have enough time for family and friends, exercise and hobbies
- Achieve a good work-life balance
Time is the one resource that we can’t buy, but we often waste it or use it ineffectively. Scheduling helps you think about what you want to achieve in a day, week or month, and it keeps you on track to accomplish your goals.
Read the full article and learn how to schedule your time effectively.
You may want to check out these 20 quick tips for better time management or even print them out:
What’s more, if you’re eager to find out the key to efficiency and how to easily achieve it, follow the link provided.
That’s what no one wants, right?
Thus, you may also want to watch the following video and read this article to find out what some common time management mistakes are and learn how to avoid them.
Feel more in control now when given some insight in what exactly you can do to be more productive and manage your time smartly?
It will be even better over time, just keep working on it and perfecting all the necessary skills to become a prosperous and happy remote employee. Remember what your goal is.
Good luck with your new online career!
Suggested Further Reading
For those who want to learn more about how to maximise their productivity and manage their tasks and time effectively, here are more suggested sources to refer to:
- How to Manage Time as a Freelancer
- Time Management Tips for Creative Freelancers
- Working from Home Productivity Hacks That Actually Work
- Time Management Strategies for Freelancers to Stay Focused During Working Hours
- 20 Time Management Tips When You Work From Home
- Freelancers: How to Manage Your Time Properly
- 4 Effective Time Management Strategies for Freelancers
- 11 Habits for Work-at-Home Productivity
When you know all this, you can clear your thoughts, set specific realistic business goals, and clearly state your exact availability in your resume. That’s how you’ll always appear dependable and professional, and avoid disappointment.
It’s time to put what we’ve just learnt in a nutshell now.
Time management may seem like a secondary skill to offer to your employers, but it is HUGELY important to get it right. The last thing you want to do if you want to get hired is to underestimate the importance of such skills.
A simple work schedule may not seem like a very big deal at first but failing to commit to your promise of availability can drastically affect not just your relationship with a client but also your long-term reputation as a freelancer.
Remember that and manage your time wisely. Also, it’s critical to always be specific and honest when communicating to your online employer, team members, and clients.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should you work for more than one client?
a. Why not? More work means more money.
b. Never. It’s forbidden.
c. Only if you are 100% sure that you can meet the standards you agreed on with ALL of them.
2. Is time management a skill?
a. Yes. It can be perfected by taking different courses.
b. No. You either can or cannot manage your time properly.
c. Perhaps. It’s not that important, anyway.
3. Should you state specific days and times when you’re available?
a. Not precisely. If the work is done, who cares!
b. Be extremely precise about it. Your employer needs to know when they can reach you.