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How To: Start a New Contract In oDesk

Odesk-start-workWhat should you do after a client has hired you? Apply the guidelines below as soon as you start a new contract. Success is about both the start and the finish!
Work efficiently
A well-planned work environment saves time and aggravation. Preparation and organization helps you work in a more calm, professional and efficient manner. You communicate these traits when you interact with people around you.
  • Structure both work and free time. A disadvantage of working as an online contractor is that it is often hard to pull yourself away from work. The absence of office co-workers removes subtle social pressures; begin work, break for lunch and leave at the end of day. There is constant temptation to check for that one last email from your client. Those who can work independently are more inclined to work too long or too hard on a single project. Set limits. Start a job at a specific time and end a job at a specific time. Set aside break time to relax. Strike a balance between work and leisure, so you do not end up feeling burned out and tired. Structured time improves productivity and creativity.
  • Set social boundaries. An oDesk contract is no different from work in a brick and mortar office. Make certain family and friends know that you schedule specific times to work. People mistakenly think that because you work online, you have extra time to run errands or do other small chores. Organize your day around specific work periods and follow your schedule. Dress for work just like you would if you were visiting a client; don’t wear your pajamas and slippers.
  • Limit distractions. Does your work area help you concentrate? Does it free you from distractions, so you can complete your work? Make your workspace more productive by moving from a desk in the corner of your living room to, for example, a table at the local coffee shop. Sometimes isolation in a crowd helps limit distractions!
  • Gather your tools. Are you productive? Organize work tools, so you can easily find them. Put everything you need, like a file cabinet, computer, phone and other office items in one area, and maybe even at arm’s reach, to simplify movement.
  • Prepare for emergencies. Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Do you know where you can access free Wi-Fi if you lose your Internet connection? Where can you upload a file? Do you have a hardcopy of your contact numbers for your client? Have you considered giving one to a close friend in case you need them to contact people if something unexpected happens?
Organize your time and tasks
Organization provides a framework for greater efficiency and a more effective use of time. You need to keep track of everything as an independent contractor, from contract details to personal business expenses. You work for other people AND you run your own business. If you carefully organize your time and work records, you will simplify the tracking of your revenue, materials, hired labor and other business-related expenses, as well as accumulate bookkeeping data necessary for your income tax filing to local and federal government agencies.
  • Document your work. Track all your job-related activity for your client. oDesk provides technology that simplifies tracking hourly contracts. Use the oDesk Team application to log work time and take screenshots for review. Consider using these same tools to support fixed-price contracts.
  • Keep track of oDesk earnings. Use oDesk tools in your Reports tab to track earnings. You are responsible as an independent contractor to research all relevant federal, regional and local tax laws. You are responsible for paying your own income taxes and other government taxes or fees. oDesk assists you by providing an annual statement of income they distribute to you.
  • Take notes and discuss them. Keep notes about problems or suggestions as you work on a contract for future discussions with your client. During particularly positive review sessions, even before the job ends, suggest new project ideas and more work. Propose logical next steps and demonstrate your hands-on knowledge of the project.
  • Request a post-mortem review and new oDesk contract. You are expected to complete the job according to your clients’s specifications. Request a post-mortem final review of your work on the assigned job when contracts end. When you propose logical next steps to your client, make certain your client understands how they can contact you to assign additional work. One way is to post a new oDesk job and personally invite you to interview for it.
  • Make updates to your profile. Edit your oDesk profile at the end of each contract to display new skills you learned on the job. Consider changing your hourly rate. Update Résumé and Portfolio under Recent Work History & Feedback and take more free oDesk skills tests.
Communicate Often
The successful oDesk contractor skillfully manages objectives detailed in the contract. oDesk job issues are often the direct result of miscommunications or non-communication over contract details. Your willingness to communication is crucial to the successful completion of contracts. Seasoned contractors follow basic guidelines that improve their communication skills and produce long-term contracts, repeat work and larger incomes.
  • Get job details. Take notes often and use them for reference later. Ask for important details, such as contact information and how your client wants the work delivered. Verify time zones and availability, so you can collaborate in a comfortable manner.
  • There are no stupid questions. When you request additional information or confirm a job specification, you show your interest in delivering a satisfactory product. Compile a list of questions whenever possible and offer them at a review session, rather than while people are directly engaged in the project. Questions save time especially if asked in a constructive manner rather than as an interruption. Listen to answers; take notes. Ask about helpful resources including other more experienced team members, work examples or help documentation.
  • Set milestones and deadlines. Deadlines are critical to schedules and performance measures; they provide a project framework for everyone. If a deadline is determined, stick to it. One missed deadline can cascade down a workflow and cause project-wide negative production, scheduling and financial effects. If you anticipate missing even a minor deadline, advise management as soon as possible.
  • Meet with a supervisor often. Schedule and attend meetings to discuss your job progress whether by instant messaging (chat), video conferencing or phone. These planned events are a perfect opportunity for participants to collaborate and share project details.
  • Provide your supervisor with details. Confirm that your supervisor knows what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. Communicate often with your supervisor, so that they can at least verbally sign off on your work. Give them an opportunity to ask you questions; no one likes surprises! Use every communication opportunity to build positive relationships through understanding, trust and respect.

Source: https://kb.odesk.com

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