Managing your calendar is one of the most important aspects of being a freelancer; however, it can also be one of the most daunting. You have a hundred deadlines to juggle and emails stacking up in your inbox, and sometimes it seems that everyone wants everything NOW!
Multiple clients, colleagues, and projects are only part of the problem, and it can quickly get too much to handle, with double bookings and missed appointments making you look bad and (potentially) miss out on work.
However, effective and efficient freelancer calendar management can make the difference between rocking the freelancer lifestyle and losing those well-paid gigs—and it doesn’t have to be difficult, even if you have five bosses dishing out deadlines!
So, to help you get all your clients, projects, tasks, and to-dos in order, here we round up seven top tips on how to manage your freelancer calendar. Read on to learn more about getting your remote schedule in order!
Top Tips to Manage a Freelancer Calendar at a Glance
Freelance Calendar Management Tips
How it Helps
Consolidate your calendars
Share your calendar
Segment your time
Color codes and tags
Schedule time off
How to Manage Your Freelancer Calendar
Freelancing often means that work will ebb and flow, with some months bringing a multitude of projects and others… well… not so much. As a result, many freelancers take on all the work they can when the opportunity presents itself, and in most cases, it can simply be too much to tackle in one go.
It also means working for half a dozen clients simultaneously, each with their own scheduling style and, more often than not, each operating within a different time zone. This reality means that you not only have to find time actually to complete the work assigned, but you also have to arrange to deliver it at a time suitable to the client—preferably without chasing deadlines at 2 AM in your part of the world!
On top of this, while email is generally at the core of all your work, each client or company will probably use their own project management apps. Things can quickly get confusing, with emails, instant messages, collaborative notes, and project boards all over the place, sometimes associated with different emails or usernames and profiles.
It’s no understatement then to say that managing your calendar effectively is critical to your success as a freelancer. It’s your best chance to bring together all of these disparate elements into a single, coherent, manageable place that enables you to keep an overview of what needs to be done and when.
Everybody deals with their time differently, so calendars and scheduling won’t be the same for each person, and it may take a little time to find the workflow that works best for you. That said, there are a certain number of universals that will help any freelancer manage their calendar:
Tip 1: Consolidate Your Calendars — One Calendar to Rule Them All
Having information in multiple places is just asking for something to be overlooked, and when it comes to freelance calendar management, one of the most important things you can do is to consolidate everything into a single app.
Rather than checking a dozen calendars every morning, freelancers should pull all scheduling into a single place that can be accessed and updated across any device. This tip keeps everything simple, stops the need to skip between different software, and eliminates the risk of missing an essential deadline by simply not seeing the calendar it’s on.
Tip 2: Timetable Transparency – How to Share Your Freelancer Calendar
A shared calendar is a more manageable calendar. Often, clients simply don’t know (or can’t picture) that you have so many other commitments and time constraints as a freelancer. Seeing your schedule laid bare will help them find a balance that works for you both and maybe adding a little understanding about just how much admin goes into freelancing.
There are several apps out there to help freelancers easily share their calendars, and you can pretty quickly bring together your calendars and share pertinent information to let clients know that you’re a busy person!
Tip 3: Segment Your Time — How Blocks Can Help Your Freelance Schedule
Managing your freelance calendar includes managing your time—it is often far too easy to lose focus and thus suffer a drop in productivity. To avoid this, segment your days into blocks of time for specific tasks such as managing email, sorting through invoices, or checking in with colleagues.
This idea breaks down big tasks into smaller chunks, allowing for better focus, and can also tie meetings to a particular time block rather than pulling you in and out of focus throughout the day. It’s imperative when managing multiple projects from multiple clients since swapping between them frequently is a sure-fire way to reduce focus.
Tip 4: Color Codes and Tags — Your Freelance Calendar at a Glance
As mentioned earlier, people manage both their time and their calendars differently, and many people are far more visual when it comes to scanning information. Even if that isn’t true for you, tags and color codes can still prove incredibly helpful when organizing tasks by allowing you to get an overview of your schedule at a glance as well as prioritizing tasks.
You can do this by email address or by type of appointment, giving you an at-a-glance visualization of your schedule across the week or month. Color coding appointments allows you the ability to prioritize your workload. Try red for the most important meetings and yellow for those which could probably be rearranged.
Tip 5: Use Notes to Manage Your Freelance Calendar
“Meet with Frank – 11 am”
Concise, to be sure, but not very helpful, especially if you made the appointment a little in advance. To keep your freelancer calendar better managed, add Notes to contextualize appointments, so you’re always prepared for meetings, tasks, and calls.
What’s more, if you share your calendar, Notes will keep everyone involved on the same page. Once the meeting/project/task is complete, update your notes with key points covered, and you’ll also have a concise reference chronologically stored.
Tip 6: Use Reminders
Scheduling tasks, meetings, and more are all well and good—assuming you remember to check your calendar regularly. However, with multiple bosses, it’s easy for a freelancer to let something slip by, lost in the pile of hats you’re wearing. Reminders remove the fear of missing something, as well as the need to refer back to your calendar every five minutes just to be sure.
Reminders can also serve as a way to alert you to specific time-critical tasks. For instance, if you need to fill out your taxes before a particular date or change your health insurance provider at the end of your current coverage, simply set a reminder to manage your schedule more efficiently and never miss a deadline again.
Tip 7: Schedule Time Off
You don’t have to block it out hour-by-hour, of course, but set aside weeks in your year, days in your weeks, and even hours in your day when you will do no work. Taking a break is extremely important, and as a freelancer managing their calendar, it’s all too easy to stay on the grind, skip breaks, and eventually burn out.
However much you love your job, it’s still essential to recharge your batteries. It’s all too easy to get caught up chasing deadlines when managing your work schedule, leaving you completely burnt out by the end of the week. Protect your leisure time jealously and schedule it just as you would a meeting or work-related activity. Not only will it help you to avoid overworking but seeing your leisure hours stacked up on the same screen as your work calendar will also give you a tangible goal to work towards.
Managing Your Freelance Calendar – The Final Word
Suppose you’re the type of freelancer that’s always running late for the next meeting, missing important deadlines, forgetting dentist or doctor’s appointments, and sending your friends belated birthday wishes. In that case, it’s time for you to give some serious thought to the way you manage your calendar.
However, building a calendar that works for you involves a little more than just slotting in a few crucial meetings and keeping an eye on the next national holiday using the latest tools or apps. In short, you still need to stay on your toes and remain on top of scheduling. However, the good news is that the right tools and tips can give you the structure you need for a solid foundation to build your freelancing success story.
Follow our seven tips on how to manage a freelancer calendar and, regardless of your scheduling style or number of bosses, you’ll find a workflow that works for you. For more information about staying on track as a freelancer, check out the Spike blog today or Tweet us @SpikeNowHQ and let us know how you keep ahead of your freelance schedule.
Freelancer Calendar Management FAQ's
Managing your freelance calendar can be as simple as following our top 7 tips:
- Consolidate your calendars
- Share your calendar
- Segment your time
- Color code and tag your events
- Use notes
- Use reminders
- Schedule time off
Yes! Consolidating your freelancer calendars is the first step to better management. It allows you to pull all the essential information into a single location from which you can add, edit, and manage your scheduling.
Connecting your Gmail calendar to Spike is simple since everything is brought into the app from your current email address. It’s also possible to add multiple different calendars to keep everything in one place.
Spike iOS app allows you to manage all your calendars right from your iPhone, as well as across other platforms you might use such as Mac, Windows, Android, and even in a web browser — and all in real-time!
Sharing your calendar with clients is a good idea. However, it is also essential to be careful with the information contained. Suppose you included simple appointments and meetings without indicating sensitive client details. In that case, you can share as much as you like, and you can ask clients to add appointments to your calendar automatically.