I’ve just come up for air. I need more space.
It’s a week into March already and I have been working none stop since the start of 2017. I don’t ask for applauds or sympathy rather an understanding that working like this is a symptom of a broken project management system.
I need space.
I don’t buy into the Gary Vee “hustle” mentality, I work for myself so I make a great living and can choose the lifestyle I want.
The problem is the bloke I work for is mental and pressures me relentlessly
The Bloke I Work For
The bloke I work for is a people pleaser he never wants to say no to a client, he never wants to make a client wait.
As a result he loads me up with client work and I end up working late into the evening to fit everything in, I’m exhausted and stressed to hell.
That bloke is me.
I Did Not Allow Space
The reason I was running around like a headless chicken was SPACE, I was not allowing any space between projects and as a result things were stacking up and had to much work.
I felt the need to give my clients some of my time so I ended up thing slicing which made it even worse.
Thing slicing is my term for giving a client part of my time but not all of the time they require, so a one day job gets half a day today and the rest tomorrow meaning I’ve got even more time deficit and this flows down to other projects.
Some of my clients noticed and were given sub standard service whilst others were blissfully unaware I was spinning too many plates, you only notice if the plate comes crashing down.
What I Did To Solve This
I stopped taking on new projects for a couple of weeks so I could clear down my backlog.
I hired a contractor to help clear some of my backlog. I aim to do all technical work for my clients to keep quality high, so I had the additional contractor work on less technical items I could outsource.
I then looked at what I was doing and what was causing this issue. I needed to space out my projects.
I created space between projects. I’m booking myself at 50-60% capacity and leaving the space for the inevitable things that come up (see below).
I’m making clients wait a little bit longer, guess what no-one is really bothered unless their site is down, the issue was just an issue in the mind of the bloke I work for :).
I’m saying not to certain types of project that are not a good fit for me. The bloke I work for is still alarmed about this but he needs to get over this.
I’m adding this mantra to my daily plan to make sure I keep the space:
What Fills Up The Space
Now that I have created space between my projects I can use the space for the inevitable issues that arise. Here is what the space is used for:
Q & A – when i send a project back to a client for review there are sometimes items that come back as feedback that was unplanned but still needs to be done.
Timezones – I like to brag about having clients on all continents except Antarctica, communication across timezones creates delays.
Client Response Times – hey guess what, my clients are not sitting there waiting for me to email them so they can respond instantaneously, they are running their own businesses too, the space takes into account this feedback loop.
Unexpected Project Complexity – sometimes you open a can of worms when you start digging into a project
Emergencies – sites crash the space allows me to help people with urgent issues.
Working ON my business – time to build systems, work with my team, market and even write blog posts.
Life – sometimes I want to do other stuff
There is no course at college on this sort of thing (perhaps I need to create a course) it all made up as I go along. I thought I could book myself solid, all I did was book myself mental.
Working in the way I do is shiny and new so I’m keen to share the lessons I learn from the trenches, please share your experience of working with clients and making your schedule fit.
Photo Credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center Flickr via Compfight cc
What do you do when you see a space man? Park in it man!