I’ve been working in ELT publishing for around 15 years now and the way I track my workload has always been the same regardless of my employment status (employee or freelancer).
I’ve always used an Excel spreadsheet which you can see below. I got the template from an in-house digital project manager that I worked with, and adapted it to my needs.
The top row is where I put the name of the publishing house, the contact’s name, and the name of the project (all covered in the screenshot above to keep information confidential). On the left side, I have the days of the year with weekends in green. Any holidays are greyed out (not shown above), bank holidays are in yellow, important deadlines are in red.
In the far right column I write how many available hours I have each week. You can’t see this in the screenshot as I have no availability during this time. This helps me when anyone asks about my availability or if I’m approaching people for work.
Thanks to this template, I can tell right away what I need to be working on. There’s no need to input this into a separate calendar. Next week, and the week after I have five projects on the go. This is a lot and I’ve definitely overbooked. But thanks to this spreadsheet, I’m aware of this and I can plan my work accordingly (and inform publishers of potential delays in advance).
I copy the information from the top row into Toggl (an app that tracks the time spent on a task), so that everything is consistent. Once a project ends, I then transfer the number of hours from Toggl into this Excel spreadsheet. This makes for easy invoicing (although I also have another invoicing system – stay tuned).
Once a project is completed, I just hide the column, so that at any given time, I only have active projects visible. Every year, I start a new spreadsheet.
Let me know in the comments how you manage your workload.