Long term projects are a really exciting aspect of freelancing. After months of hard work, you finally get to see the project come to life, and that’s an extremely rewarding feeling.

However, long-term projects can quickly seem overwhelming. The large scale of them, series of milestones that you must hit, and unforeseen complications can all contribute to wishing you’d have never taken on the project in the first place.

One of the most important things that you can do to tackle a long-term project with ease is the make a plan. Not only will having a plan give you an idea of how much you work you have ahead of you, it also allows you to break up the large projects into smaller chunks that seem a lot less overwhelming.

Make a plan

Start backwards. When is your long-term project due? If you’re doing it for external reasons (like for a client), you’re a lucky duck*; odds are they have a due date in mind. If this long-term project is self-propelled, like a novel, pick a date for yourself. Write it down, circle it in red, tell a friend – even if it seems scary.

After you’ve determined your final due date, work your way back. When do you want to finish the first draft? The second? When do you want to finish your preliminary research? Now is the time to set signposts between yourself and the finish line – this will serve not only to structure your time, but also to provide encouragement in the weeks or months ahead. It’s going to feel GOOD when you accomplish Goal #1 – and we’ll be chasing that high.”

See the other three strategies at Freelancers Union.