Managing your time

Firstly, I only have 3 main clients, and I do their development work on their behalf.

I’ve built something called a studio calendar, where they can login and see my availability. When they have a project, I estimate how long it’ll take and then I book it into the calendar for a maximum of 5.5 hours each day, which in theory leaves me with a couple of hours to do any small jobs that just crop up.

At the minute I’m fully booked for the next six weeks, which is nice.

One of the problem I’m facing is this, I got a small 4 hour project last week which I did and passed back to my client, since then, their client has been filtering through changes as and when they see fit, the trouble I’m having is that I’m then having to use time that’s allocated to other projects to get these amendments done as they have deadlines, although were not mentioned at the start of the project. On top of this, I get other small amendments and things that come in as well, and I feel bad saying I can’t do a small amendment for another 7 days as that’s when I’m next free.

I’m looking for someone to come and work with me in the office (not outsourced), which I think will help solve the problem. I’m just wondering how other people manage their time in regards to their clients etc, and what people might do in my situation.

They use a contract that precisely defines project responsibilities and remedies. A good contract also addresses issues such as scope creep and a timeline for changes/ revisions.

I wouldn’t feel a bit bad. If your clients understood your processes at the beginning of their projects, then later timelines shouldn’t bother them. Many clients will try to push the envelope and some will even try to behave as if you are their employee instead of their contractor. When that happens you simply have to tell them that you have deadlines in place for other clients that you must honor. I sometimes throw something back like, “I’m sure you would understand the impact on your project if I set aside your deadline in order to give preference to another client.”

I applaud your time management efforts and scheduling, but I don’t know how you do it. I know I couldn’t stick to a schedule like that where certain blocks of time are reserved for specific clients.

And for the exact reason you mention, that clients don’t always stick to their own schedules, and you don’t know when they might get back to you with changes, content, etc.

For me, a more fluid and open schedule works best. I tell clients that I’ll have a certain part of their project done by a certain date, but I don’t let them know when exactly I’m working on their stuff. It gives me the freedom to move things around in my schedule as needed.

I think if you searched for someone else that uses their time as efficient and transparent as you, you would be very very unlikely to find anyone else.

This 4h project needs to queue at the end of your schedule, unless this client is willing to cut out 4 other hours in some other project before then.

You certainly can’t be faulted here.

HTH, Jochen

Is scheduling work in like I do a good way of doing things? or am I causing problems for myself?

Its absolutely how it should be done.

Kind Regards,

Jochen

Anyone who tells you that you have to keep things ‘fluid’ on the schedule to accommodate clients has probably not successfully grown a business.

You are wise to engage in time management, and there are lots of ways to do it. Find what works for you and your business, and don’t give up until you really feel like most of your time is well used (and only a bit goes down the drain!).