Are you inclined to say no or to say yes when assigned tasks are changed or other assignments are given to you on top of your already busy schedule?
It is going to happen eventually if you are a freelancer. Particularly if you maintain a wide-ranging digital skillset.
It doesn’t matter how busy you are at that moment or how far along you are in your already assigned tasks when you get the email, call or the boss casually drops by to tell you they need you for another assignment.
Again, this is in addition to your current workload and all the delivery/deployment windows remain the same as more time is out the question due to circumstances beyond your control.
In some cases, this is a defining moment for a freelancer in their quest to maintain a long-term contractual relationship with their employer.
What you say, and just as important what you don’t say, can define your future role within the company.
Your words and your attitude must be thoughtfully chosen so as to not offend the employer or cause the employer to not offer more work in the future.
On the other hand, you also must start laying the groundwork for times when you literally cannot take on any more work. To let them know that in a few circumstances you might not be able to comply but always appreciate being asked.
If you are busy that is great. It shows you put out a product that an employer wants. It never hurts to let them know that you are always busy but that you will do what you can to accommodate them.
I must confess that in the twilight of my freelancing career I relied on this more often as it got more difficult to keep up on some projects. By then my employers… all of them… were educated to the fact that I had a busy schedule but would also listen and try to comply with additional requests.
To be able to have the time and not melt down physically or burn out mentally you need to schedule properly. This means always leaving enough time to take on additional tasks. Just plug in additional time on every contract.
If you think a certain contract will take three hours or three days, then make it four hours or four days… maybe even stretch it to five days. These built-in days won’t cover everything that can come up, but they can lighten the load.
What about when you are overloaded or booked solid and still want to say yes?
That is when you must decide if you are just going to suck it up and get the job done usually sacrificing sleep in the process.
Keep this practice to a minimum.
It is bad for your health and I speak from experience. The experience of one that ran on four to five hours of sleep for years not realizing the toll it would take on my health in later years. I was not as invincible as I thought and now I have a cardiologist to remind me of this on my semi-annual checkups.
This is no joke.
Sleep is important.
Educate yourself on the topic.
I’m not going give a link because you need to do the research yourself to understand the negative implications of possibly working yourself to death on a job you love.
Don’t ever make the mistake of doing something to your health that can’t be undone just because of work.
Schedule properly and get a minimum of seven hours sleep even if you go to bed at 4 am. Particularly if you go to bed in the wee hours. Make this a vital part of your work routine.
You choose the hours anyway… right???
I also want to mention that your attitude when answering, yes or no, should always be one of wanting to do it. This comes across as your relationship develops. A decent boss will notice these things and we’d all rather deal with someone positive when we need help.
In summary, these are simple concepts. Schedule properly with enough “what if” time and sleep time. This is in addition to normal time off as working all the time can lead to burn out no matter how much you love what you do.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.