Whether you are a Startup, an established business or you may be doing a freelance work; it is not easy to manage multiple clients. It is not only about the time-management, but it involves many other things like client expectations, professionalism, commitments and much more. Let us try to understand some of the important factors in managing multiple clients effectively, mainly related to time management.
Keep your Calendar up to date:
Forgetting the delivery dates or commitments is a major problem, and no client will ever like that, so maintaining your calendar of important dates is important. As the dates keep revising and schedules keep changing, it is important to keep the calendar entries up to date. With the ease of internet and mobile, we have multiple planners available to manage our schedule, and by making use of the right tools, you can achieve this task.
There are always 24 hours a day only! J Considering sleeping and all other personal time, you may be able to get 10 to 12 hours of the actual workday. Every day it’s going to be the same rush, same client requests and many high-priority things to handle.
Maximising your time is to find out the tasks which you can avoid or the tasks which are not very important. If you have to spend time on a particular routine task every single day, analyse and see if you can do this task weekly or is there a way to reduce time spent on this task. You will be surprised to understand that many tasks which we keep doing every single day may be irrelevant at a particular time. You need to re-visit the tasks at frequent intervals and see their importance related to the conditions at that time.
If you have too much on your plate, hire freelancers and outsource some of your work to make sure you can focus on the core business.
Use a System that Works:
Every individual is different and what works for me may not work for you and vice versa. The best way is to follow a system which works best for you. For example, if you are a mobile savvy person and checks your mobile every day as soon as you wake up, it may be a good idea to set up important work reminders on your smartphone. Make use of shared drives, shared folders, storage space on cloud, tools, and apps on smartphone and computers to remain organised.
Talk to your Client:
The Most important part of time management is talking to your client. If the client expects delivery of work on a specific day or time, there is no point in only following your schedule. You will always have to keep making changes to the schedule to meet the client schedule. It does not mean, your schedule is not important, but the client gets priority.
Set Boundaries to Accept the Work:
If I am a developer and I know that I can’t deliver more than a module for a functionality each day, there is no reason for me to accept work where I will have to deliver 5 modules a day, and I know for sure that it’s not possible for me.
You should promise what you can deliver and make sure to deliver the same. Making false promises will only irritate the client, and you may also lose opportunities for getting any additional work from these clients.
Keep Track of all the Work and Deadlines:
Keeping track of all work ‘to be done’, ‘in progress’ and ‘completed’ is extremely important. In fact having a daily schedule is the best! You should be flexible enough to make quick changes to your schedule but keeping a complete track of your work and deadlines is very important. I may have my own ‘to do’ list for each day, and there has to be a way of marking the work complete.
You can use lists, sheets, different folders to separate out each type of task. Getting organised is the key here! Unless you remain organised, it is extremely difficult to keep track of multiple clients, their work, and their billing. Yes, the tracking of billing is also equally important as you will get paid according to the bill generated by you for your services.
Manage Client Expectations:
Managing Client Expectations is the most difficult part of working with many clients. What if you are a freelancer having four clients asking for your time or services on the same day? Managing client expectations, dividing your time and asking the client for priority can ease these things. Once you discuss your condition with clients, not every client will jump on you and say that his/her work is a top priority. In fact, some clients will appreciate your discussions and will help you find a way out. If you are a professional and client understands that you will try your best before asking the client to change the delivery time/date, they will cooperate.
Email communication is a best professional tool. If you use the email communication effectively, a lot of work gets done offline. It is not a substitute for chat/call, but it can resolve many communication issues. The best part is no-one required to be on-line, and everyone can read and respond to the communication as per their convenience. Managing different folders within email also helps you to get organised and stay on top of your communication.
The most critical part of managing multiple clients is time management! Time management is a problem and effective email communication, quick chat/call, deciding priorities, managing client expectations, maximising your time and scheduling your work are the ways by which you can manage the time effectively. Freelancers, consider these as freelance tips! The working hours are almost going to remain same each day and stretching yourself to work for 18 hours/day is not a solution! Manage the right expectations, discuss with clients and organise your work to make sure you maintain a good work-life balance and also keep your clients happy.