So I know the minimum amount of money I have to earn in a week (weekly salary), I know the minimum hourly rate and I know how much hours I have to work in a week.

But every now and then I am asked by old or new clients to do some quick things where hourly rate is usually 50% larger than the regular hourly rate. So it's smart way to have a daily buffer for these kinds of unplanned tasks.

How do you plan such unplanned tasks? Do you plan them at all? Or when they come, you leave the current work aside and catch up with it tomorrow?

I was thinking to have 1 or 2 hours a day aside for such tasks. If they come, I can do them. If they don't come, I can either work that time or take a rest. But of course, in the other 6 hours I have to be so productive to earn my weekly salary (at least).


Since being a family man with kids, working over nights is not really a solution. I wake up early and go to bed around 10PM and try to spend quality time with kids when I finish my day work.

4 Answers 4


Good question and one which most freelancers can probably relate to!

I think the best way to handle your workload is to educate clients that you are only one person and will do your best to responsibly manage the competing demands of all your clients.

This might mean occasionally missing a deadline by a day or two if another client has an emergency that you can't ignore.

If clients can't cope with the odd missed deadline then they probably need to be hiring a larger firm that can absorb peak work loads easier than you can. The disadvantage for the client with a larger firm is that they will likely need to pay a higher rate associated with a larger firm's overheads.

Ideally, it is also good to under promise and over deliver. In terms of deadlines, maybe add some time to allow for unexpected work. For example, if you think you can get a task finished by Wednesday then tell the client it will be finished by Friday. If no extra work comes in and you finish by Wednesday, then the client will be happy. If extra work comes in and you don't finish the task until Friday, then there's no harm done and everyone is still happy.

In summary, I think the answer is in managing client expectations.


I schedule planned work for less than 40 hours a week. (Typically for me it is closer to 25.) If nothing else comes in, then I usually continue to work on planned and try to get ahead. If other things do come in, I have a buffer to work with.

That doesn't help 100% of the time - sometimes lots of things come in at once, but it does help.


If I have projects to complete that I have committed to, I continue working on them and give the client requesting the additional work a time frame (maybe within two weeks) that I will be able to get to it. Then, when I happen to have the time, I work on that project.


When such situations come to me, I simply work hard over night. Overtime work is the only solution for this purpose. There are situations, when I worked more than 24hrs and had no sleep for 2 days.

  • Please check my edit. I did the same when I was single. Now I have to spend quality time with kids in the late afternoon so overtime is something I'd rather skip.
    – Peter MV
    Jun 26, 2014 at 11:01
  • Also, even though you can work 24hours, I bet the quality is lower than if you had slept in between. Usually it is better to just manage client requests, sometimes you have to say no...or give them a realistic timeline.
    – daaxix
    Jun 26, 2014 at 16:13
  • @daaxix There was an article once about a coder who did 48hours work sessions and then slept for a day or less. During this time he was able to do the boring and slow work where you tiredness does not matter, while doing heavy logic after the rest.
    – Peter MV
    Jun 26, 2014 at 17:19

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