A few years ago I decided to branch out. Up until that point I had decided to stick to my safe place (coding) because I was afraid that my design skills and product ideas weren’t up to much. I had to take a long look at what motivations and fears were holding me back and how I could overcome them.
Fear #4 – Interruptions
Constant interruptions drive me mad. I wouldn’t mind so much if they were fun interruptions such as “Cake anyone?” but mostly they’re the “ARGHHHH! We’re meeting a client in two hours and we need this added to the website right now!” variety. I really do like my customers, some of them I’d even go so far as to say I love them.. but.. this post is for those few customers that just don’t seem to understand that it’s not really appropriate to call me 10 times in a day without good cause, and it’s certainly not appropriate to leave a 30 minute gap between calls just so you can make sure that I’m sitting down nicely and getting into my work when you call me next (I’m sure they have spy camera’s in my office just so they can call at the most inconvenient time).
I’ve heard rumours of some kinds of magic-men who actually turn off their phone.. or block off time in their calendar when they will not be available. That sounds like a good way to lose business but maybe I’m thinking about it all wrong. I want to be available to help paying customers when they need it but I also want to get on with my work. The solution? Probably to hire a secretary to take care of my calls. “Sorry Lisa is busy at the moment but could you tell me a little about the problem and I’ll ask her to call you back as soon as possible.” That.. would be fantastic!
The stress of these kinds of interruptions is completely of my own doing. I have the kind of personality that wants everyone to be happy and I also want to get things done, so what I try to do is get that one customer out of my way quickly i.e deal with their request as soon as possible so I can go back to what I was doing as quickly as possible. Probably the more experienced freelancers reading this are already seeing the problem here. Once I train a customer that I’ll do it as soon as possible, they get used to that, and expect even more and more quickly too. Also these customers that want everything in a hurry, are often the customers that feel that they don’t need to hurry when they’re late for a meeting with me, or late paying my bill.. it’s one of those strange phenomenon.
The search for a solution to this (and one that my customers don’t feel bad about) is ongoing.