Friday, September 25, 2009

How to Handle the Post-Vacation Rush

Is it just me, or does all the work seem to come in at once? Last month was pretty quiet, but the minute I got back from my vacation I had three proposal requests, several emails from previous clients looking for quotes on fairly large projects, and three projects from my regulars to get cracking on--all by the end of the month. I've been busy. So busy I've been neglecting my blog, and after I finally prepared for my vacation with some excellent guest posts. (Thanks to all my guest posters by the way!). So this weekend I'm foregoing personal plans to keep working.

So here are a few tips I need to apply to get my act together after my vacation--that might be helpful to you too.

Map projects out on a calendar. I made a big mistake the past two weeks and said "yes" to several projects with due dates within a few days of each other. In my head I sort of vaguely thought I had plenty of time, but now that I'm in the middle I realized I made serious scheduling mistakes here. The reason was that when I was talking to one client, I didn't have a timeline of all my other projects firmly in my head. I need to write these things down and figure out which days are booked with one project--and not try to pile on more work than I can get done in a day.

Try to solidify some projects before you leave. I had several clients asking me about starting new projects the week before I left on my vacation. I tried to get all the details, send in a contract, and get everything lined up for an easy start when I got back--but that's not how it worked out. Sometimes these things are out of your control, but it's better to try to get everything set before you go (if it works for the client) so you can hit the ground running when you get back.

Do everything you can possibly do beforehand. I have a few regular projects I've been putting off until the last few days before the due date. Not a good idea. If you have an existing project, do at least a little every day even if you don't anticipate getting slammed. Procrastination may have been OK in college, but in running a freelance business it never does anything but hurt you.

How do you deal with getting slammed with work after a vacation?


Myric said...

I try to schedule things well in advance of vacation, and set things up so I can, exactly like you said, hit the ground running the day I'm back.
I'm yet to figure out how to get my schedule, and my clients' desired schedules to actually match up. Even after I've gone to great lengths to firm up delivery dates and maybe even squeeze some work time in during the vacation (like typing while on a plane), it always seems my clients' timings drift a little when I'm not there.
One thing I've learned that helps is to schedule lighter the week or two before leaving, and the week or to after returning, if at all possible. And sometimes asking for an extension on something well ahead of time ("Ms. Preferred Client, I'm booked solid that week but would really like to write that article - can you give me an extra week on that?") lands the job and still helps lighten the load a bit.

Unknown said...

Welcome back, hon! We missed you. I hope the vacation was delicious. ;)

Jenn Escalona said...

I just wanted to commiserate for a second. Even though I thought I preplanned like a master, I just got back from a mere 8-day vacation and, just like you, have found that my business had gone a little nuts! Apparently my clients referred me like crazy while I was out of the country, and I have lunch meetings set up for next week. I choose to take this to mean that I need to disappear for awhile so that my clients have the chance to miss me.

Anyway, so glad you are back and at 'em. Just know - I feel your pain. Now back to catching up!