Tips from an Overachiever
Apologize and Explain but Don't Overdo it
Your client may need an apology and explanation for your tardiness. I say 'may' because some clients are more relaxed than others and would rather you just get it done without explanations. But if you don't know how your client will react or you know they are expecting the writing, they need an explanation. Don't tell them your whole sob story. A simple explanation that outlines why you were late and when they can expect the work is good enough. Some may not even want a why, but a definitive date they can count on is pertinent.
When you have a pile of wok due in a short time - or worse, past due, it is very easy to panic. But doing so could reduce your productivity. Instead of panicking about the late or missed deadlines, just relax and enjoy the writing as you would normally. Forcing it might show in your work. Many clients would rather have late work that is exactly what they wanted than on-time work that looks like a 5 year old produced it. If you simply cannot produce a quality product on time, don't panic. Explain and then relax and get it done.
Prioritize Immediate Tasks
Look through your work and decide which assignments could be held off and which need to be done right away. When figuring this out, consider what each client is using the assignments for as well as how they will feel about the tardiness. If the client absolutely needs them right away and will not be happy without them, those need to come first. It's not good to have any late assignments, but if you find yourself in this position, know the wants and needs of your clients and prioritize immediate tasks based on that.
Turn in Close Deadlines Before Certain Late Assignments
If you have deadlines very close and you also have late assignments, write the articles on deadline first if possible. This helps ensure you will not also be late for those assignments. Better to be late for only a few articles than add several more. It's easy to get in a pattern of being late when you write for a living because more and more work keeps coming in.
Make an Action Plan
If you are habitually turning assignments in late, either you have unavoidable life issues or you just need to rework the schedule - possibly both. As a mom of multiple children, I often have things come up that keep me from my work. This is one of the major reasons I decided to freelance for a living. I love writing and I can be at home with my kids and make money. But of course, as a mom, the kids must always come first. This can sometimes be bad for business. Therefore, each time it starts to look like things aren't working, I must make an action plan. This may mean reorganizing the schedule, but it also may mean recommending another writer to certain clients. It's important to realize the point at which you just cannot handle anymore work.
Break as Needed
You can't work 24 hours. OK, yes, it's possible. Sadly, I speak from experience. I've done it - more than once. But it's not wise and I would never recommend it. In fact, on one of such binges, I once published a private message as an article that I could not delete myself. Very bad idea. The message was not anything special or revealing and the issue was resolved by staff of that particular venue, but it was embarrassing and unnecessary. Had I gotten some rest, it likely would not have happened at all. Take breaks when you're tired, no matter how many deadlines are in front of you. No deadline is worth risking your health over. Clients will appreciate the quality work that comes from you being well-rested.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network