For many of us, working with freelancers is essential for accomplishing our work. In fact, freelancers today make up 35% of the US workforce, and collectively earn more than $1 trillion dollars a year.

But what happens you're your freelancer causes your blood pressure to rise? When it's impossible to get them on the phone... when they don't return your emails... when they have committed to so many projects, that yours falls by the wayside?

You want to bang your head against the table, but what you really need is a strategy -- for managing your freelancer and your own anxiety. Here are my top 5 tips for making that happen.

1. Be clear about your expectations for timing and timeliness. This is key and you might need more work on this than you think. For example, you may have asked for a deliverable by a certain date, but how specific were you about that expectation? Did you say (informally) that it would be "great" if the work was done by a certain date... when it actuality you absolutely needed it by that date? Make sure you know what you need -- and that you're crystal clear in communicating it.

2. Set and communicate explicit standards. Be clear as well about what you want and expect --- and if possible, give concrete examples or illustrations of "home run" outcomes. Also be specific about what you don't want and what a disappointing outcome would look like. You might know these standards in your mind -- but it's equally essential to be clear about them with your freelancer.

3. Follow up (within reason). It's perfectly acceptable - and smart - to follow up, even on a consistent basis. But don't let your emotions take the wheel -- and, for example, call them multiple times, sending multiple frustrated emails, one after another. Instead, plot out a reasoned communication strategy. Indicate your sense of urgency, request a response as soon as possible, but don't go overboard.

4. Make yourself feel less crazy. We can all feel frustrated and impatient with our freelancers - and these feelings can really take a toll on us - physically and emotionally. So, take a step back, settle down, and do what you can to gain perspective. You'll feel better and also will be at your best when executing the strategies above.

5. And finally - take a hard look in the mirror. Are you chronically impatient? Do you turn people off with your style? Are people scared to deliver bad news to you? Do you fail to see that people often have multiple commitments and responsibilities? You may indeed have an issue with your freelancer, but part of the responsibility may be on you as well. So, it's important to see what you might be contributing to the situation.

In the end, with a positive attitude and a solid strategy in place, you'll be well on your way towards a productive working relationship with your freelancer.