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Deconstructing big jobs

From: Freelancing Fundamentals

Video: Deconstructing big jobs

As a freelancer, time is your stock-in-trade. Whether you're billed by the hour or by the job, you always have to know how much time you have available and how it will be used. One thing that throws a monkey-wrench into those calculations is when you're facing a big overwhelming job. It's easy to panic, but individual freelancers can and do finish such jobs all the time. The secret is to break down your project into smaller tasks, set a schedule, and then do those tasks.

Deconstructing big jobs

As a freelancer, time is your stock-in-trade. Whether you're billed by the hour or by the job, you always have to know how much time you have available and how it will be used. One thing that throws a monkey-wrench into those calculations is when you're facing a big overwhelming job. It's easy to panic, but individual freelancers can and do finish such jobs all the time. The secret is to break down your project into smaller tasks, set a schedule, and then do those tasks.

First, get a thorough understanding of what the client wants the finished product to be. The bigger the job, the more you need advanced planning. Second, deconstruct the job into its component parts and make a list of them. This requires experience in doing such work. Like let's say that you have to design and lay out a 40-page catalogue by March 3rd. If you've done such a job before, you'll have a sense of how many product photos will be needed, when to call in the photographer, and how much time that person will need. You'll also need knowledge of your own work habits, of how much you can do in a day, and when you like to take break.

Arranging work so it fits your time will help keep you motivated. Once you have a list of what needs doing it's time to schedule it all. Start with the deadline, and then count the number of workdays between then and now. If we know the catalogue is due on March 3rd and it is January 20th today, then we see that we have six weeks to finish it. Next, divide the time available by the tasks. We might take the first week for design and approval, the second for creating the template, and the third for photography, and then the rest for completing the catalogue.

Finally, write specific tasks into each workday on the calendar. Take weekends and holidays into account and build in a little free time if you can in case anything goes wrong. Now you know exactly what you'll be doing on every day. I have to tell you, I recommend that you do the deconstruct and schedule parts of the job before you even write the agreement. When you present your proposal, you'll need to know how many hours the whole project will take, so you'll know how much to charge. It's all part of the sales process.

Now you're ready to work. Each day, you'll simply perform the tasks you've set out for yourself. Knowing what you'll do and how it will add up to a finished project is an enormous comfort. You are in essence going back and forth between being your own boss and being that boss' worker. There are two things you need to do at the end of every day. First, check and adjust the schedule. If you've got more done than expected, decide whether to move everything up, take the time off, or give it to another client, or whatever you choose.

If you're falling behind, you'll have similar choices. Finally, look over the next couple of days work to prepare yourself mentally and make sure you have everything that you need. It's also a good idea to check in with the client once in a while to give them a progress report, check any assumptions you've made, and help them relax in the knowledge that the job is being done. Set these many deadlines in your agreement so the client knows what to expect. Then before you know it, you're done. The project is over, the client is happy, and you have something big to be proud of.

Now that might seem like an inordinate amount of planning before you feel like you've actually started to work. But the planning is the work. And in the end it all adds up to successful completion of a project.

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Freelancing Fundamentals

42 video lessons · 26423 viewers

Tom Geller
Author

 
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  1. 10m 50s
    1. Welcome
      1m 53s
    2. What is freelancing?
      2m 53s
    3. How freelancing and employment differ
      2m 33s
    4. Preparing your mindset
      3m 31s
  2. 9m 24s
    1. Defining career goals
      2m 48s
    2. Sharpening your market focus
      3m 18s
    3. Transitioning to freelancing
      3m 18s
  3. 16m 11s
    1. Preparing your portfolio
      3m 11s
    2. Estimating costs
      3m 10s
    3. Funding your startup
      2m 42s
    4. Establishing your workspace
      3m 35s
    5. Building your professional network
      3m 33s
  4. 8m 51s
    1. Getting licenses, permits, and insurance
      2m 15s
    2. Creating contracts
      4m 23s
    3. Finding professional service vendors
      2m 13s
  5. 12m 54s
    1. Setting prices
      3m 13s
    2. Establishing payment systems
      1m 36s
    3. Invoicing and getting paid
      3m 50s
    4. Keeping the books
      2m 32s
    5. Managing taxes
      1m 43s
  6. 14m 41s
    1. Announcing your availability
      3m 16s
    2. Finding work through agencies
      2m 2s
    3. Onboarding clients
      2m 59s
    4. Avoiding scams
      3m 25s
    5. Choosing assignments
      2m 59s
  7. 11m 27s
    1. Interacting with clients
      2m 11s
    2. Delivering quality work
      2m 28s
    3. Getting referrals and recommendations
      2m 34s
    4. Losing and firing clients
      4m 14s
  8. 10m 48s
    1. Deconstructing big jobs
      3m 34s
    2. Adopting time-management tools
      2m 35s
    3. Creating schedules
      2m 30s
    4. Turning off the clock for "me time"
      2m 9s
  9. 20m 6s
    1. Staying motivated
      3m 3s
    2. Increasing your rates
      2m 52s
    3. Marketing beyond your professional network
      2m 56s
    4. Growing through hires and partnerships
      3m 30s
    5. Building passive income
      3m 48s
    6. Changing focus
      3m 57s
  10. 4m 52s
    1. Case study: Publishing a book
      2m 47s
    2. Next steps
      2m 5s
  11. 12m 42s
    1. Freelancing Q&A
      12m 42s

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