5 Tips for Embracing Polywork & Balancing Freelancing Gigs

Guest post by Mary Elizabeth Elkordy of Elkordy Global Strategies

This past year many have reevaluated their life and one key area they honed in on is their work/life balance. With remote work increasing, people’s personal priorities being questioned and put to the test there is a large group who are reconsidering not just who to work 40 hours a week for but now considering the possibility of being their very own boss.

There is a growing trend, largely among younger generations, to move away from traditional 9-5 office jobs and into a multitude of other ways to work – freelancing, owning a small business, or polyworking. The percentage of workers reporting they are self-employed reached an 8-year high this past July. The global pandemic shifted the way many people look at working, reevaluating their work responsibilities and opting to prioritize their personal lives and wellbeing day-to-day instead. ​​After being in lockdown, workers are in search of generating additional revenue streams, having more flexibility in their schedule, and, overall, increasing their happiness. Polywork – working multiple jobs, being your own boss, and serving multiple clients – allows you to explore your own interests, bolster a particular skill set, and focus on your personal values with different jobs.

Freelancing has already been on a steady rise for years as the workforce entered the gig economy. The evolution of technology and social media apps made it easier than ever for people to telecommute, work from anywhere in the world, and market themselves at a much cheaper cost. Polywork takes freelancing one step further. ​​Polyworking differs in that it includes not just working in multiple companies at once but also multiple areas under an array of job titles.This style of work enhances a worker’s opportunity to engage in multiple skill sets and interests all at one time while maintaining their freedom, wellbeing, and creativity as a member of the workforce.

The freedom to explore multiple gigs and make your own work hours is an incredible opportunity to capitalize on. But working on several freelance gigs at once can be overwhelming and if you fail to mana​​ge your time efficiently, your work-life balance will suffer. When you no longer have a boss around the office corner to check-in, it’s your time to step up and get your jobs done. As an experienced polyworker and freelancer, here are my top five tips for how to balance several gigs in the era of polywork:

Tip 1: Set boundaries

…for your hours and your clients’ expectations. Doing too much on one job will result in lower quality work in another. By hiring you, your clients trust you to deliver your best work. Confirm that you and the client are on the same page about the deliverables and stay in touch throughout it’s progress. Being able to pick up a phone instead of solely relying on client communications is critical. Often you can resolve an issue faster and more efficiently by simply making a call.

Tip 2: Utilize tools or apps.

Invest in various online platforms and tools that can help aid project management, time management, work scheduling, virtual meetings, and real-time communication. This will keep everything in order across your several roles and ensure better quality work. Calendar software programs can help log your hours or write details about time-tracking to share and know how to bill your clients accurately. Project management software helps your projects stay on track with the ability to set and adjust due dates in real time. 

Tip 3: Learn to say NO.

Due to time constraints, unbuilt skills, conflicting projects, etc, some jobs may not work out. It’s okay to say no when turning down an additional client or potentially even a certain project for a current one. In the long run, it’s important to retain a good relationship and produce good quality work for and with your current clients. Plus, your wellbeing is on the line. You don’t want to overwhelm yourself with work and leave no room for your personal life.

Tip 4: Start slow.

Time management is key so only take on the number of projects you can handle while still performing your best. Increase the number gradually as you can handle more and have more resources and credentials under your belt. This is why tip #3 is so important 🙂 This will ensure that you build a stronger portfolio overtime. If you are doing this as a side hustle initially, be realistic to how much out of office time you are willing to commit to your side hustle while maintaining a high level of performance in your day job. Don’t hurt your primary source of income while building out your polywork clientele.

Tip 5: Build a team.

Working as a freelancer means doing everything yourself, even the administrative work. You could end up leaving little time to complete the goals your client is counting on. As you build and grow your brand/business, consider partnering with others and building a team to help with some of the tasks. Look into partnering with other qualified and trustworthy freelancers. This is how my business came to be during a global pandemic!

As the working world changes with the times, there is room to reexamine your personal working arrangements. By utilizing the above tips, you can maintain the flexibility and other benefits that result from working multiple freelancing jobs as a polyworker.

Mary Elizabeth Elkordy is President and founder of Elkordy Global Strategies, a full-service boutique PR firm launched during the COVID-19 pandemic. She began her career on Capitol Hill working for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before starting as a Production Director for legendary talk station WABC-AM in New York City. Since 2016, Mary has produced and co-hosts DL Hughley’s podcast The Hughley Truth and in 2014, she was City and State Magazine’s youngest person to ever receive top “40 Under 40″ in New York State at the age of 24. Today, Mary has expanded her startup company into a well-versed firm working with Fortune 500s to nonprofits featured in some of the top tier media publications globally.

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