In this guest post by Owen Jones, Senior Content Marketer at ZoomShift, learn how to relieve the stress around juggling multiple client projects so you can effectively grow your business.
Managing a client is not for the faint-hearted. It requires mental strength, the ability to juggle multiple tasks with tight deadlines, and make those dreaded last-minute changes. If you have ever been on the other side of a client meeting, you know the sweat and blood it takes to take a brief to deliver.
Whether you are a freelancer or a small business, you will have to learn to manage multiple clients as your business grows. Effective management takes time management skills, online tools, and planning. These are skills that you can learn.
In this guide, we will look at a few ways to keep calm while managing multiple clients.
1. Set Aside Time To Plan Your Week
Amid the back-to-back meetings, find time to sit down with yourself and plan your week. You can set aside time Friday when you are winding down or a Monday morning. Chalk out how your week will look, take stock of any changes to the schedule and see where you need to pick up the pace.
Taking this time to review your task list will help you identify problems before they impact a project. Creating a schedule is a chance to review your to-do list. You can remove the tasks you have completed and add new tasks for the week.
Having a clear idea of what your week looks like, broken down to the hour will help you keep on top of everything. If you lack a plan, you are more likely to overlook tasks, which will lead to problems with clients.
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2. Prioritize Client Tasks
When managing multiple clients, it’s good to divide up your responsibilities based on needs and deadlines. Once you have created a list of tasks, set out to plan how you will divide up the days among them.
Some clients may require more communication and time, while some may focus on delivery.
Everyone will have their approach to creating a schedule. I like to use a prioritization matrix to determine what tasks need to be completed first.
A prioritization matrix like this allows you to rank your tasks and ensures you do not miss out on important tasks as you juggle multiple clients. A prioritization matrix also allows you to take a task-based approach to your work.
List the tasks you need to complete using your preferred online work management tool. An online tool will help you manage your task list.
3. Make Sure Your Plan Is Realistic
You must set realistic targets. Unrealistic deadlines might make your ‘to do’ list look achievable, but only work on paper. Trying to achieve the impossible will result in stress and burnout. It will also lead to chaos as the entire schedule will need constant rework due to the delays.
Use the SMART technique to define your goals to ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bounded. List the tasks you need to achieve, determine how you will achieve that goal, and set a deadline.
4. Track How Long You Take to Complete Tasks
It’s a good idea to track how long it takes you to complete tasks. Understanding how long it takes to complete a task will help you track your efficiency. It will also help you catch any delays by establishing a base time for an activity. For example, I know that writing a 1,500-word article takes me half a day.
In addition to tracking how much time it takes to complete a task, consider when you are most productive.
Whether you are a morning person or someone who gets most work done after the evening cup of coffee, we all have our peak productivity periods. Identify these periods and assign challenging tasks to your productive time.
Try to review everything. Look at how you’re doing as an individual, and also assess the performance of your team. If you encounter a problem, try to find a solution.
5. Set Reminders For Important Tasks
If you want to manage multiple clients, you have to be organized, and nothing says time management like a calendar. Online calendars and scheduling apps help you keep track of your meetings and help your team know when they can reach you.
Source: Microsoft Tech Community
Set reminders before each meeting to go over your notes for the client. Calendars on Google or Microsoft Teams help you stay sharp and prepare for each session. Online tools that allow you to record meetings are also handy when managing multiple clients, as they ensure you don’t miss anything. Plus, you can share a recording of the meeting with team members.
6. Plan Dedicated Hours To Work & Communicate With Clients
Email, phone, video calls—your client has many ways to reach you. Set clear boundaries on when you will communicate with clients. You don’t need to respond to every inquiry right away.
Tell your clients when you check your emails and when you or your team are usually available for calls. By setting communication guidelines early on, you will save up a lot of time. You can allot client communication to times in the day when you’re less productive.
Have clients that still call? Use the do not disturb feature on your phone to avoid getting pulled away into calls. Do not ignore important calls, but setting boundaries can help you draw a line between the important and follow-up calls.
7. Take One Task At a Time
When you have multiple clients, you are not doing any good by multitasking. Each client will have a different brief requiring a different mindset. When you try to do a little bit of everything, you end up doing nothing well.
Take one task at a time, give it your best, and then move on.
You can’t work on the brief, get design inputs, and oversee changes, all at the same time. Make clear divisions and set time aside for the different aspects of your work. For your team, use an employee schedule template to divide up responsibilities.
8. Take Mindful Breaks
You and your team are not machines. Take breaks where you completely shut off from work. Recharging your batteries is as essential to your work’s quality as a well laid-out plan. Grab a cup of coffee in the middle of a packed day and take those 10 minutes off.
I recommend you also experiment with various productivity techniques. For example, some people swear by the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method where you work in short productive bursts. There are lots of other productivity methods to try.
Finally, make sure to take a holiday. You can’t work hard all the time. A holiday can help you avoid burnouts and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
These are just some of the ways you can reduce stress as you manage clients. You can tailor them according to the needs of your team. You can improve on these systems after each project.
Set Expectations With Clients
Lastly, you must set realistic expectations. When talking with clients, be clear about your capacity. Set realistic deadlines for work. If a client has work that needs to be done fast, you can agree to complete the work. That’s fine, but only if you have the capacity.
If a client has come to you, it is clear they like your work. Sometimes, some clients don’t mind the extra time as long as you get the job done.
If they are not flexible, and you don’t have the capacity, turn down the project. The best way to impress your clients is by delivering a great service and being honest about your capacity
The Bottom Line
Handling multiple clients can be tough, especially if your business has just started to grow. But with some planning, a to-do list, and the ability to set clear boundaries, you can keep adding more projects to your task list.
The main trick to managing multiple clients is strong time management that includes prioritizing tasks, setting a boundary on the client call, and planning ahead and reviewing. As you plan and execute, don’t forget to take some time off for yourself to recharge your batteries for another week of calls, meetings, and prioritization matrices.
Make use of online tools like calendars, task managers, and the do not disturb mode on your phone to manage your clients. So, what are you waiting for? ■
About the Author: Owen Jones is the Senior Content Marketer at ZoomShift, an online schedule maker app. He is an experienced SaaS marketer, specializing in content marketing, CRO, and FB advertising.
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