Prioritize To Do Items in Your Weekly Task Checklist
A freelancer’s efforts can be roughly divided into two areas: working toward a contracted project, and taking steps to keep your business strong. When you’re occupied working for a client, it’s easy to focus only on that effort. Deadlines should always take high priority, but don’t let the other areas slip too far, or you’ll be scrambling to catch up down the road.
So just how do you balance the two? One approach is to make a checklist of business-minded tasks that you need to do each week, regardless of how busy things get.
What’s on Your Weekly To Do List?
Your weekly task list will vary, depending on your freelance focus, but here are some ideas to get you started:
Check your receivables: Keeping an eye on what’s due enables you to spot problems early and get paid before the check is late. Freelance photographer Wendy Upham learned the importance of this during one particularly busy fall. “I was thrilled to be getting a lot of assignments from a book packager. I was so wrapped up in that work, plus a few other clients, I hadn’t noticed the book packager had fallen behind in payment. The amount they owed me had accumulated quite a bit before I raised the red flag.”
Take a weekly glance through your receivables, and send a friendly reminder as soon as something becomes overdue.
Remain current on social media: Your blog, Facebook page or twitter account might be the first thing that you abandon when you’re swamped with paying work. But if a new client looks you up during that stretch, only to find old information, they’ll assume you’ve fallen behind – or given up – on your business.
Even during in the busy weeks, dedicate a few minutes to remain alive in social media – send out a few tweets, update your blog or Facebook page. Better yet, plan ahead: keep extra blog posts or topics on hand.
- Look for new clients: It may seem counterproductive to take time away from your paying work to look around for a new gig. But once your current work concludes, you need more work lined up in the pipeline. Set aside dedicated time each week to use toward that effort, even if it means stopping progress on your paying work for 30 minutes, or doing it after hours.
- Touch base with a past client: Keeping in touch with satisfied clients is a great way to spark repeat business. Boston freelance writer Jeff Wilkham says he’s landed most of his work just by checking in with past editors. “I’ll send an email asking what they need right now, or I’ll send out a few ideas I’ve been mulling over,” he explains. Wilkham strives to do this weekly. “If I’m not feeling motivated, I imagine an editor at their desk, wondering who to farm out a project to, and I picture my email arriving at that moment.” Make sure reaching out to past clients is on your weekly task list.
- Review: Look over the past week for those items you didn’t get to, an idea you meant to explore, or an event you attended, but still haven’t looked over the notes you took. Keep these items active on a list so they don’t slip off your radar.
Your Weekly Task Checklist
During a busy week, you might do the bare minimum for each item on your list – send out a quick email checking in with your favorite clients or scan the most promising job listings.
During a less-hectic week, you can make a greater effort – plan to lunch with a few colleagues or review all relevant job boards in detail. The important thing is to make sure these areas get some of your attention each week on a consistent basis.
Consider printing out a must do weekly task check list and attach it to a clipboard. Then work through your prioritized task list on the same day each week to make sure important tasks are completed. Or utilize an online to do list app that has the ability to set repeating tasks and reminders.
Have you made a checklist of must do weekly tasks for your freelance business? And are you actively checking off the high priority items on your to do list each week?