The Way We Work
February 14, 2012 by Stephanie Gonzaga

Freelancers often busy themselves with finding enough work to last them for at least six months. However, they often do not stop to consider the consequences of having too much work to handle.

Simply put, committing to five to seven projects on your own can be as difficult and stress-inducing as running out of work. What is the best solution to avoid being stretched too thin?

Strategy #1: Team up


Hiring a freelancer to support a specific project or building a regular team of freelancers opens you to all sorts of opportunities.

With another freelancer, you can distribute tasks and finish projects faster, giving you more time and power to take on bigger projects. Likewise, hiring a freelancer to take care of your business-related administrative tasks can help you focus on work that needs your personal care and attention.

Building a remote team is a big decision to make, so it is important that you are ready to lead and manage your team for success. For guidance on doing so, review these valuable tips for successful remote team management from guest oDesk blogger Andrea Bailey.

Strategy #2: Learn to accept and turn down projects


Because freelancers are often wired to accept any project that comes their way, they can forget to consider their existing time commitments, strengths and personal interests.

Take a moment to consider your priorities as a freelancer. Ask yourself, “What projects am I most suited for and interested in? What projects do I want to avoid or hand over to other freelancers?”

It may seem ideal to be available for any opportunity that presents itself, but the reality is that accepting too many projects can cause your work to spiral out of control if you are unable to set limits.

Always consider your priorities, interests, strengths and specialties before adding a new project to the queue. If a job does not fit your interests, skills or schedule, decline the offer.

Strategy #3: Keep track of all your ongoing projects

It is crucial that you keep track of all your ongoing projects and complete them on time. Letting things slide will impact your current clients and the good reputation you have worked hard to build.

If you work on your own, review your existing contracts before deciding to set aside time for another. If you are working with a remote team, monitor each member’s progress, keep tabs on high-priority tasks, and check with your team to see whether they are interested and ready to take on a brand new project.

Finding freelance work may be more of a problem for full-time freelancers than being overwhelmed with work, but failing to meet expectations and missing deadlines — along with the reputation damage these can cause — can be detrimental to any business. Keeping these strategies in mind will help you make smart decisions and sustain a thriving freelance business.

What are your thoughts on the problem of stretching yourself too thin? Have you experienced this situation in the past? How did you solve the problem? Share your stories in the comments below!

Stephanie Gonzaga

Freelancer, Blogger, and Creative Writer

Stephanie Gonzaga is a freelancer on oDesk and blogger of The Freelance Pinoy, a freelancing blog for the Pinoy solo professional.