If you’re a freelancer, then you’ve likely had weeks where it seems that every deadline and project due date comes up at once. You stay up late trying to get everything done and you just manage to squeeze it in on time. If you’re a freelancer, you’ve also likely had weeks where you have nothing at all to do, and spend time browsing Pinterest and twiddling your thumbs wondering where you’re going to find your next project. Though ideally we’d like to schedule work and projects so that they are spaced out, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. But that’s okay – as long as you master the art of balance. It’s vital that you make the most of your business lulls to prepare for the busy times, so that you’re never run off your feet, and you’re never sitting around doing nothing. Figuring out how to balance your time can mean you’re always productive and checking things off the to do list.
At least for me, blogging is a huge part of my business. I use blogging to bring in readers and turn those readers into potential clients down the road. But I also blog because I LOVE it. If you’re a freelancer, a blog is a great tool for many reasons, and if you don’t already have one, you should start one right now.
But, regardless of how amazing blogging is, it is also a lot of work. Balancing a freelance career and a blog can be stressful and overwhelming for a lot of people, especially if you let the work build up. The first thing you should do is establish a workflow and start scheduling your posts ahead of time. This means that you are never blogging at the last minute or rushing to get a post published. I blog every Sunday and have my posts for the week scheduled by the end of Sunday night. BUT, if I have spare time or a lull in my freelance work, I blog. I write as many posts as I can and schedule them for the upcoming weeks. This is because I know that eventually there will be a Sunday night where I don’t have my posts published. Whether it’s because I had a busy work week that fell over into the weekend, or because I want to go out with my friends (even more common now that I’m living in Toronto) having posts written ahead of time is a blessing. If you have a business lull, why not think ahead and get things done earlier than you normally would? It will only help you in the future when you’re busy.
Find New Work
I hate to say it, but if you have a business lull it usually means you could use some more business. So, rather than sitting around and waiting for your client to email you back or watching TV, look for new business! There are so many different places you can look for new clients (though they vary by what you do). Try local classifieds, freelancing sites, social networks, or even go out in person (scary I know!) and network. (This is one I really need to start doing myself). There is no possible downfall in trying to find more work for yourself – other than finding too much of it and getting really busy – but again, that’s not a problem if you’re prepared!
Social networks are a great place to socialize with other people in your niche, in your industry, and potential clients. If you’re busy working all week then you probably don’t have time to socialize on these networks. Free times mean you can actually have the chance to use these networks to their fullest potential. When someone tweets at you or mentions you, answer back. Start a conversation and get to know them. When someone comments on your blog, answer back. Maybe go comment on their blog too to show support. And then go out into the social sphere and explore. Read some blog posts and comment. Visit some social sites of like minded freelancers and comment there too. You will build a lot of connections and potentially grow your following in a way that you wouldn’t be able to on a busy week.
When you’re out browsing on the internet, or even walking around town, you’ve likely come across some courses or skills that make you think ‘hey, I’d love to learn that.’ But then you remember your schedule is packed and you just don’t have the time. Well, maybe you do! Though your busy weeks may seem overwhelming and crazy, business lulls leave time for learning new things and improving your skill set (which could also help your business in the long run). So next time you come across a course or class that you think would be really beneficial for you, don’t just pass it by. Bookmark it and then return when you have a business lull and you can dedicate a few hours or maybe even a few days to learning something new.
Tackle the To Do List
I LOVE lists – a little too much. They keep me so organized and help me keep every aspect of my life on track. From groceries to blog ideas, I have a list for everything all stored in my Wunderlist app. Lists are a great place to store tasks and items that you are too busy to tackle at the moment, but you can revisit the list later when you have time. If you’re in the middle of a busy time you should be constantly adding items to your to do lists for different aspects of your life. Then when you have a business lull, you can look to your lists for a reminder of exactly what you need to get done. Though you might be feeling unproductive in a business lull, checking things off a to do list is a great way to stay on track.
Prepare for Busy Times
When you are in a business lull and you don’t have any immediate work to do, why not prepare for your busy times. Think about your workflow (the tasks you have to repeat and complete for every client). Think about how you can streamline that process and what steps you can take to improve productivity. Maybe you need to improve your organizational system or work on lumping tasks together to complete more at once. Think about your process and what you can do to make it better – there is always room for improvement!
Business lulls can be a sad time for some freelancers, as they feel that they should be busy all the time, and busy times can be stressful and overwhelming. But, if you try some of the tricks above and work on balancing your time, you can always stay productive and never get over worked. Since I just went full time with my freelancing, finding balance is something that I’m really striving for, and all of these tricks have helped me manage my time so far.