When I first incorporated my business in 1996, I said YES!!! to every bit of work that came my way. FavoriteSon was 6 months old when I started. I neglected to set limits and ended up exhausted by the time PinkGirl was born. I cut back on work for about 5 years and when PinkGirl started kindergarten, I intentionally set limits. This is part of what I wrote back in September of 2006:
“barring a RARE exception here and there, I limit my work time to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, while my kids are at school.”
I kept my commitment – until. One of my clients needed training for their satellite offices in south Florida. I didn’t want to travel. So I introduced them to Go To Meeting. Go To Meeting has changed my business. LOVE it. Now, I DO work on Mondays and Fridays – but from my home office. So. Here are the limits I’ve set for my current training and consulting clients:
- I don’t work on the weekends.
- Mondays – I will work on Mondays – from home. One exception: New hire training is the only reason I work on a client site on Mondays.
- Most work is Tuesday – Thursday between drop off and pick up car pool times.
- I won’t train on Fridays because over the weekend, the trainee forgets everything they learned and I look like a “bad trainer.” I will do consulting work on Fridays, but only on client site if it’s something I can’t do over the internet. Between Go To Meeting, Remote Desktop and Citrix, I can usually stay off client site on Fridays.
- I don’t answer the business line after 6:00 p.m.
- My cell phone is NOT my business phone. I use *67 when placing calls to clients. Only firm administrators know my cell number. Not the client’s employees. (except for two “friend” employees I’ve known for over 10 years.)
- I intentionally do NOT have push email. I have a Treo and I download my email when I want it. It doesn’t come at me all by itself. That’s why firm administrators have my cell. If it’s urgent, they call. Otherwise they email.
- All my clients know my stated minimum response time is 24 hours for “non-urgent” work.
- There is very rarely “urgent” work because I don’t accept clients who want me to fix problems instead of prevent problems. I’ve dumped given up clients because of this one.
I think that’s it. Pretty much Monday through Friday during the time the kids are in school. But as I begin preparing to diversify into faith based speaking and singing, I know those hours probably won’t fit.
I also have to figure out what this means with regard to the training and consulting I’m already doing. I have commitments to current clients. One thing I’ve already done? Divert some work I hate. Basic document template/form work. It’s a real time-sucker. One of my clients wanted me to to be completely responsible for all their templates. I did it for about a year. Hated it. Drudgery. Finally, I asked the administrator to allow me to teach certain employees how to do the template work. I would support them when they need help. It may reduce my computer consulting income, but it frees me up to do other things.
But I’m stuck. I’m not sure what those “other things” actually are. What they should be.
Wrong Question: What kind of opportunities will I pursue?
The thing is, I’ve only prepared two topics. I’m only recording one song a month. I’m having a hard time coming up with a definitive outline for a book. I don’t know who my target audience is. It could be eclectic. It could be weekend retreat work. I’ve done that before. It could be weeknight work. Or I could end up doing faith based business presentations during the same hours I work now. That would be GREAT. Luncheons. Seminars. Staff meetings. That would be perfect!
RIGHT QUESTION. What kind of opportunities will God bring into my path?
ANSWER: God’s not telling. He wants me to practice “experimental obedience” as it was explained to me by Cheryl Smith. “He wants us to risk doing great things for Him, in His name (the parable of the talents).”
WRONG QUESTION: How do I stop preparation from taking over my life?
Like content development. THAT’S what will creep into my life. That’s what I have to define limits for. When it looks like I’m just reading a book, I’m actually researching and taking notes. When it looks like I’m surfing the web? Research. Talking on the phone? Research. Sitting still, doing nothing? Organizing content in my head. THAT’S where I’ll cross my guidelines. Content development is always like that for me. Highlighters and index cards, bookmarks and outlines. The best part is that, since I’m deciding what content to develop, I can select topics which are of interest to me and it doesn’t seem so much like work.
RIGHT QUESTION: Where does God want me to focus my time and effort?
ANSWER: I think I’m going to have to approach these decisions the same way I approached choosing a major. Try some things and if they don’t work, if the ideas don’t flow, I need to try something else.
I need focus. Too. Many. Choices. This is why I hate shopping.
I’m open to suggestions. Seriously. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?