Time Is On Your Side–If You Put it There

Freelancers know a lot about time. About not having enough of it. About deadlines. About approaching deadlines. (Sometimes about missed deadlines.)

unique-clock-1For some reason, I’ve fallen into bad time management habits, so I decided to figure out why.  The first business day in September seems like a good time to share it.

Nothing takes “only five minutes.”
My clients say it all the time, “How long could it take to write that headline? Can’t take more than five minutes?” “Answering an email takes just a minute. You can write five emails in five minutes.”

Nothing called “work” takes just five minutes. Even if you don’t count prep time. To answer an email, I have to read it carefully and figure out what the person wants. (Often it’s hidden in the middle of a paragraph, behind the background and details). Then I have to decide how to best answer it. Then write the email and store the draft while I answer others, then re-read it for dumb errors.

weirdClocks-9Lesson #1: Do not let the client push you into a time frame that doesn’t work.    Set a time frame that is reasonable for the speed at which you work. You may lose clients that way, but better to lose a client by smart time management than through stupid mistakes caused by rushing.

Stop believing the travel time on Google Maps. People who made the maps don’t dash back into the house because they forgot a folder or a water bottle. They don’t have the same traffic and road construction I do. They don’t go to the bathroom when they get to an appointment to make sure there isn’t something stuck in their teeth.

Lesson #2: Add at least 30 minutes to commuting time. This sounds like it will waste time, but it can be a big deal. One client location is 31 minutes away by Google Maps. I have never been able to make the trip in under 45 minutes. Doesn’t matter why–if I don’t want to be late, I have to leave more time for the longer drive.

webpark-clockWhat if I am too early? I bring a nonfiction book that I’m reading. Something I don’t mind if the client sees. Example: Wabi Sabi for Writers rather than The Joy Diet. Love Martha Beck, but I don’t want to explain it’s not really a diet book or discuss diets with my client. E-readers are excellent for reading without broadcasting the title.

Time moves at different rates. Some days I can race through work, other days I have to drag and kick myself through the same work. I don’t know why it is, but on dragging days, time needs to be adjusted–it will take longer to do ordinary tasks.

Lesson #3: Stop over-scheduling yourself. You can’t keep up the pace. Leave a half day every week to catch up. I don’t book coaching or training clients on Fridays. I’m never bored on Fridays, and frequently finishing projects that got delayed, needed more research, got pushed aside. And if the week has gone well, and I have to find a coaching slot, Friday can work for that, too.

-Quinn McDonald still thinks time moves differently on different days, but at least she knows what time it is.

11 thoughts on “Time Is On Your Side–If You Put it There

  1. Pingback: Weekly Retreats - Link Round - UP - Pierced Wonderings

  2. Absolutely true. I´m changing things mid air, moving blocks around. You should see my wall full of sticky notes. Once I´m actually in it the perception changes and of course the pressure to “deliver” makes wonders.
    I went from a hazy idea three weeks ago to a full flown workshop with 9 sales. My first ones!

  3. Such good advice! If I am ever going to sell what I make, I’d better start making a note of how long things take. I will not to sell myself short . . . time and talent should be rewarded . . . paying a fair price shows the purchaser appreciates all that has gone into the work.

    Hmm, I might need to blog about how long my weaving takes.

  4. No one really understands how long it takes to make art. People have looked at my work and been surprised to be told that X piece might have taken 6 months. Sometimes it might take a day, but art takes time. Creative work of any kind takes more time than people think.

    As for time management, I have great difficulties with it as I am easily distracted (ADD). What I do, though, is allot more time than perhaps I need to do a project because I build that distraction into the time allowance.

    As for travel, because I don’t drive and take the bus, I tend to be early for everything because I overcompensate for traffic, bus schedules, and walking time to wherever I’m going. If I’m in a car, I always assume the journey will take longer than expected because of traffic and snafus. It’s not being pessimistic, it’s being proactive. Prepared.

    Great post, as usual, Quinn

  5. I want the “Whatever” clock! Another fascinating book is “No Word For Time” about time being tied to natural events, dawn, the first freeze of the winter etc. Native peoples still in tune with their culture have a very hard time moving between clock time and their natural time.

    • One of the most difficult adjustments I had moving to Phoenix is remembering when something happened. I didn’t realize how much I pegged memories to weather, seasons, position of the sun. I have trouble remembering when something happened because we have 322 days of full sun.

  6. I´m in the middle of a time management experiment now, launching a workshop I said was not ready but my friends thought it was just me waiting for “perfect”. I´ll be working crazy hours until I catch up and have a buffer of posts for it. But then if I hadn´t I´d never launched the workshop.
    Still don´t know where this is going.

    • Robert Frost (the American 20th-century poet) said, “The only way around is through.” And sometimes, when we have an idea, we don’t know what will happen, or how the idea should be guided, until we step into action. I know you will be alert to where this project wants to go, and you will be surprised where it takes you.

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