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Resuming "Paused" Contracts and Balancing with Other Contracts

Anyone have any advice on how best to manage paused projects that suddenly resume with no warning? I'm struggling to figure out if / how I can tell a client that it's hard to prioritize their work if they're going to disappear for a long time. For example, I have quite a few clients that are "thinking" (hah) - basically they are pondering some logos I made for them and deciding which to move forward with, or perhaps they need to give me some information that their legal or marketing team has not provided to them yet, etc.


To me it's abundantly clear that if something causes the project to be on pause, I obviously cannot expect a freelancer to stop taking on new jobs, or jump back on it the second it is unpaused since they have other clients that are more responsive, or have the materials for their project ready, and I would never even hire a freelancer without everything they needed unless I knew when I could provide it to them and roll my deadline accordingly, but clients are not usually that insightful. I'm just starting to get a bit concerned at just how many jobs I have on pause for a reason that is totally out of my control, and my schedule is already somewhat tight so for someone to reappear one day and say hey here's that info, can this be ready by tomorrow, could really throw a wrench in my production depending on the scale of the project. I'm currently booked about two weeks out and I'm not at the point where I'm comfortable cramming anything new in my schedule, but at the same time I cant exactly say hey it's hard for me to prioritize this because I have other clients that gave me everything I needed before I started. And if I leave more "wiggle room" in my schedule, for example I considered leaving 2 hours free per day for spur of the moment work, that seems unproductive since I have no idea when someone may or may not get back to me and more often than not that time would go unfilled.

I do ask for as much notice as possible (ie, please let me know when you anticipate being able to provide this information) and then I check in consistently, but I can also see it from the client perspective as well - Perhaps they are thinking "Well, a freelancer took on a job, promised they would take care of the job, and then is too busy to push my job to the front of the line even though I hired them first" and I can understand how that's frustrating but at the same time it's unreasonable for me to take on less work than I typically would just in case someone magically has their materials ready without notice. I think that's also quite unfair to push back jobs for those clients who have been super prepared and responsive throughout their project.


Anyone have any advice on how to handle this? I've only been using Upwork since August and this is one of the few things I just haven't quite figured out yet. At the moment when it happens I just order something with a triple shot of espresso and don't sleep as much that night... but, not a sustainable work model.


Hi Gina,


I understand that it can be a difficult situation when your previous clients reactivate paused contracts all of a sudden while you are already occupied with new projects. When something like this happens, I'd recommend that you reach out to the client directly and let them know that you are currently working on a project so that you can discuss how to proceed with any new tasks they'd like to assign to you. If in case it is a project that urgently needs your attention, then you can politely decline and let them know. I'm sure that other community members would be happy to share some helpful advice with you as well. 

~ Joanne
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