Getting sick is a part of life. A disappointing part of life, but none the less it’s unavoidable. Some of you are blessed with a Sampson type immune system while others ( me ) can just look at someone who is sick and catch what they are carrying.
It’s rather unfair but I have gotten used to it over the years. I missed 6 weeks in a row of my freshman year in high school, and the attendance office was on speed dial on my Father’s phone from sophomore year on. No matter what I did or how pre-cautious I was, I was going to get sick… eventually.
Fast forward to my adult years, and the story reads very much the same regarding getting sick except no longer is my Dad calling in sick for me nor am I in high school (thank God). The thing that has stayed consistent however is the fact I do have to deal with the consequences of getting sick as a business owner.
Now that you have a little background about me and my lack of strength in the immune system department, I’m guessing you are chuckling to yourselves or maybe even thinking, “Oh please, give me a break…How hard could it be to be sick and self-employed. You already wear p.j.’s while you work , and you can take a day off whenever you want”. Well, I wish it was that simple of an answer. You see, if you are actually fortunate to love what you do and be very busy, then it doesn’t leave a lot of room for getting sick.
You have firm deadlines. You have deadlines based off of the previous deadline, and you have clients with their own deadlines basing theirs off of yours. Follow me? Time doesn’t just stop because I get sick, but I’ve figured out some ways to deal with it when it happens and these principles can apply in your own business sick or not.
Principle 1 – Set Your Deadlines Further in Advance Than You Need To
I’m a designer, and because I’m a designer I have to… design things. Sometimes my right brain whether sick or not just shuts down. I hit a wall. I lose inspiration, and I just plain suck, but I’ve got a deadline coming up, and I can’t miss it. I avoid these types of situations by planning my deadline MUCH longer than I know it will take me. This way if something pops up, I get sick, or “I suck,” I have plenty more days to rest, get inspired, or go goof off (which does spark creativity btw!). Yes, I can design a site in 1 day. Would I recommend it? NO WAY. You should always give yourself more time than needed, that way if you finish earlier your will look like a hero to the client
Principle 2 – Never Set More Than One Deadline
Clients love timelines. Some clients live and die by a timeline, but I say scrap the timeline. I set up one deadline and that is the first major item in my scope of work. I call this the milestone. I have about 3 milestones in my design projects and they are: wireframes, home page design, and interior page designs. Each milestone is based off the previous milestone. This way if something pops up, you get sick, or you win the lottery, you are not set to that final deadline.
Clients sometimes can do almost anything they can to make you miss a final deadline like adding new items to the scope of work, 200+ revisions, or the dreaded disappearing for 2 weeks and then popping up a day before the due date. Never setting more than one deadline or a final deadline puts you in control, and thus puts you in a perfect position to please your client.
Principle 3 – Be Honest
Some even the principles I described above are not fool proof and you just are going to have to admit you are not going to meet a deadline. In this case tell your client ASAP. I mean the minute you know you MAY not make a milestone date. This keeps your client in the loop and they can prepare what they need to on their end if need be. You will come across as caring and trustworthy that you let them know as soon as possible.
I have even told clients before we started working together that sometimes I have health issues and from time to time I may need extra days to complete a design. It may sound weak at first, but I explain that my overall goal is the design not the date it is up by, and if you are working with a client that doesn’t respects that about you then you shouldn’t be working with them. Honesty is the best policy in all timeline and milestone situations.
These are the principles that have helped me keep my clients coming back, and have a smooth project management flow all while dealing with health issues as they arise. What principles have worked for you in your business as it relates to time management and do you have a specific story about how you acquired that principle?