YOU ARE doing too much: your To Do list is creaking and your calendar looks like a game of Tetris. It’s time to have a spring clean of your work. This isn’t some idealistic fantasy either, this is practical and this is urgent.
For if you keep on going the way you have been, you’ll be lucky if the result is that only one or two projects are going to go wrong, only one or two clients are going to be disappointed. What’s more likely is that you’ll break your back to get every project done on time yet none of them will be worth your name.
Every job you do is an advert for you so constantly churning out adequate work is not going to help you get better commissions, it’s not going to help you grow your craft. You’ll end up hating this career that you have worked so hard for.
Avoid the Tetris approach
So today you are your own client. Seriously. Put a meeting with yourself in your calendar.
As a client, you have obvious and clear requirements: they are the projects you currently have on the go, work that you are currently and specifically commissioned for.
Write those down: just their titles and clients, don’t bother with details.
It’s a bigger list than you expected. It’s always a bigger list but now it gets bigger still. Add on the work you expect to come and then most importantly add those projects you want to do.
This list is your current workload and you cannot do it all.
Your job is to decide what to keep and what to ditch.
In an ideal wishy-washy world you could treat all of these commissions as equal but in our real-life freelance creative world, they are not. You have committed to some of them, you have promised. Unless you know the client very well and can genuinely talk with them, there’s no room to change these at all.
It’s the opposite with the work you haven’t got yet but you want. You could decide to ditch all of that but then in two months’ time you’ll have nothing to do.
So look now at each piece of work as if you can choose to do it or not. What’s it really worth to you? Are you doing it because you’ve always done it and over the years it’s become less interesting or profitable? If the time it takes is far more than the work is worth to you, finish this one and get out of doing more.
Take a look at each of the things you want to do. Seriously, do you still want to do them? If you do, then schedule them. This is the one you’ll pursue today, that’s the one you’ll look into next month.
Your clients have schedules, they have needs and they have a budget. So do you. Take this time to lift your head up from the work and see where you’re going. Do it for your craft and, yes, even for your health’s sake.
For further ideas on how to get more organised so that you focus more on your creative work and achieve better results, try our online course 'Creative Productivity' (free to members).