Always good to see a website I worked on go live.
40 rules for managing clients including this one:
Working weekends for clients: I’ll do it once if there’s a genuine emergency but, unless you pay me obscenely well for your inefficiency, I won’t do it twice. Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
— 40 essential rules for client management by Bad Language
I'll be pinning this list up somewhere I can see it every day.
There's a time and a place for client work. Rushing out the door on a Saturday morning isn't one of them.
Over the weekend I made mistake in some code I had changed for a client. After pushing the quick change to Github and then to the test environment for the client, I then realised the mistake I had made. With no time to correct the change, I decided to leave it until Monday morning. After seeing my mistake in all it's glory this morning, I admitted my mistake to my client and then proceeded to fix the code correctly.
There's no excuse for the mistake that I made but making the change on a Saturday morning when I was due to leave the house probably wasn't the best time to do it. Also I didn't read the message fully from my client that prompted the change. In my haste I missed the last sentence which would have changed the way I updated the code. A hard lesson learned.
Freelancing is definitely a learning experience and with each mistake you make you see the correct process you should be following. In this case it's client work. It should be reserved exclusively for your typical working day. In my case it's during the week at my normal office hours and only when I have at least 30 minutes to carry out the work and review it accordingly. The only exception should be for emergencies and when carrying out that work it should receive your complete focus.
It can be tempting to be the ever accommodating freelancer and provide help on your client's every request and wish, but going down that path will only degrade the quality of your work. Your clients will come to expect fully working changes when they demand them regardless of the hour of the day. Responding in this way isn't in the best interests for you or your client. Instead, defer fixes for client work for first thing the next morning or even before your main day begins if you have the time.
There's a time and a place for client work. It's during the agreed times that you already have with your client. Keep it that way to ensure your clients get the complete attention and focus they paid you for.
I really need to learn to say no.
I've been freelancing for over 18 months now. It has brought a new sense of freedom to my career but at the same time I've had to become more disciplined. Every morning I have to get up, check in with clients, work, find clients, work, invoice clients and yes, work. It has been this same cycle for 18 months now and while it provides a good income for me and my family to live on, I am beginning to question how much longer I can carry on this cycle.
The last six months in particular have seen me working flat out. I have days now where I simply close the lid on my laptop and leave the desk, glad that I don't need to see another line of code for at least 15 hours. At the end of those days I am exhausted. Mentally drained from the amount of work I've had to do in a limited amount of time. It's what a hard days work should be, but it's becoming repetitive.
At this rate, I'll be grudgingly opening my laptop in the morning. It's not how I envisioned this to be. I knew there was going to be hard work involved at the start, but I didn't think I would be working this hard for this amount of time. It feels like I've lost a sense of freedom with my freelance career.
Fed up with the five day week, I decided at the start of the year to stop accepting freelance work on a Friday and give myself time to work on my own things. It has not gone according to plan. Some Fridays I have a meeting, some Fridays I work to catch up on and other Fridays I have meetings and work.
The four day week clearly isn't working, but that's partly because I end up making myself available on Fridays.
Another plan for the future is to perhaps schedule one week off every eight weeks. I'm not sure at the moment that this will be any better than working just a four week but it is an option.
With a bit more control on work commitments I should be able to get my Friday back and start working on my own projects again. It's definitely long over due and would afford me a bigger gap between each working week.