Freelancers who have been around for a while know how critical skill expectation management is. Almost every client wants things done quickly and efficiently.

It is impossible to accomplish everything at once without risking faulty results. That's why it's so critical to manage client expectations from the beginning, especially in regard to deadlines.

However, it's not enough just to set expectations. Make sure to write them down and communicate them clearly to your client as well. Visually plotting deliverables on a project timeline template is perhaps the best way to do that.

This article will show you how to create a timeline for a project and manage client expectations.

Break down the project into smaller pieces

A massive freelance project has come your way, and you're being asked for a deadline. Don't be tempted to commit to a date right away. Analyze the project properly to determine if a specific deadline is realistic.

As you begin the project, break it down into smaller tasks.

"Breaking down tasks allows us to see large tasks as more manageable and doable, and reduces the risk of procrastination or deferred tasks." According to productivity expert Melissa Gratias, "Breaking them down can make large tasks seem more manageable and approachable."

Besides that, you will also get a clearer understanding of the workflow and project requirements by breaking down tasks.

Imagine, for example, that you've been hired to improve the ranking of a website with search engines. This project should, in this case, be broken down into smaller steps, such as doing an SEO audit, researching competitors, creating backlinks, etc.

Estimate the time required for each task

You have outlined all the tasks you need to complete your project successfully. Every task should be considered an important project milestone, and its completion should be time-bound.

There will be a few tasks that will take several days to complete, while others can be completed within a few hours. Whenever you're given a hard deadline, work backwards and assign certain dates to every task.

The goal of establishing a timeline is to get everyone on the same page and track progress as we go. Moreover, it lets you give clients more clarity on deadlines.

Consider your dependencies

When you start a project only to realize that the client has not provided some crucial information halfway through, it's frustrating. It delays the project and makes it impossible for you to meet your deadline.

What can you do to prevent such a situation? Think about project dependencies during the planning process.

When you depend on certain tasks being completed in order to complete your project or task, you have dependencies.

The five major types of dependencies, according to Kissflow, are:

~ Logical

~ External

~ Resource

~ Preferential

~ Cross-team

Make a visual schedule

All the groundwork was done by you. Now, all you have to do is inform the client of the project timeline.

A deadline list can either be sent out as an e-mail (and could be lost in their inbox) or a visual timeline can be created to display the tasks chronologically.

Clearly, the latter is a more professional and straightforward method of communication.

Organize all the tasks and their deadlines into a project timeline. You'll be able to:

~ Provide an overview of the project

~ Communicate clearly and effectively

~ Outline important milestones

~ Keep track of progress

Present it to the client

Keep in mind that a project timeline is not just for your own use. Prior to beginning work, you must also share the plan with the client and receive feedback from them.

If you want to present your timeline, manage expectations, discuss priorities, and ensure alignment, you should do so through a video call. Please take this opportunity to address any concerns, questions, or potential roadblocks you anticipate.

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