With the ups and downs of demand for freelance services, do you often find that it’s feast or famine with freelance work? Managing a couple of jobs a week is not difficult, but when you find yourself inundated with multiple deadlines, it can be really challenging to keep your workflow organized. This simple (and free!) tool has been a huge time-saver for me, and gives me peace of mind that I am tracking all of my deadlines.
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When I started out as a freelance proofreader, I got so tired of checking and rechecking my Freshbooks invoices to see if I had billed for a job. Or I would have to revisit my sent e-mails to see if I had returned a job to a client or not. I needed a solution to streamline my workflow so I could see the status of current jobs at a glance.
A work log solves all of these problems and is also easy to reference to see which jobs are due first. If you have any special notes for a particular job, you can add those, too. Most planning forms or tools that I have tried to use in the past end up forgotten somewhere in a drawer or binder. But I use this one religiously to keep pending jobs organized.
It’s also a visual tool to see at a glance how many pages you are committed to for the day or week so you don’t overcommit yourself, and as a record of the number of pages you have read in case you need to reference it later or add up your total pages for the month or year (if you like to track statistics on all you have accomplished).
Getting it all on paper
If you’re a list-maker and like to keep information on paper rather than in your head, I think you will love this log. It reminds me of David Allen’s mind sweep from his book, Getting Things Done. He recommends “get[ting] in the habit of keeping nothing on your mind.”
A Work Log is a simple, effective, and free way to…
Organize pending jobs
Track multiple due dates
Reference completed jobs
Track pages read
The log is especially for proofreaders, but could also easily be used by transcriptionists as well (Just enter the number of audio minutes in the “Pages” column). The log is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ve included a sample to show you how I fill mine out.
- Priority – I use this only if I have a lot of jobs with different turnaround times to make sure which one needs to be completed first.
- Turnaround – I use “N” for normal, “R” for Rush/Weekend, and “ASAP” for ASAP!
- Client – I just use first name here unless I have two clients with the same first name, then I would use, for example, “Sharon A.” and “Sharon R.”
- File Name – I just use the last name of the witness for depositions and hearings, or the name of the main party for a trial (e.g., Johnson & Johnson).
- Received – I use the time the file was received in my e-mail inbox.
- Due – Either the time requested or the default time for normal-turnaround jobs.
- Added to Invoice – This column is a HUGE time-saver for me. I was daily–even multiple times per day–checking my invoices to see if I had put in the number of pages or added the medical up-charge, etc. Now I can just look at my log and see that’s it’s done. I have found that it’s best to wait until you have a good idea of what the job is like (the need for any up-charges, not charging for a blank page, etc.) before you add it to your invoice, to save double-checking and editing the invoice repeatedly.
- E-mailed to Client – Also a big time-saver so you don’t have to check your e-mail “sent” items more than once.
- Notes – I use this to note if a job was canceled, if a job was sent in “chunks” with varying due dates, if the due date was extended, etc. In the bottom “Notes” section, I might write something like “Joan sending large depo on Friday?” for a job that has been promised but hasn’t come through.
If you don’t like the idea of more paper cluttering up your work space, you can write the headings on a whiteboard to achieve the same goal.
Feel free to share your comments and suggestions below.