I was taking my daily walk yesterday and speaking with one of my favorite friends, Eve, as I cruised through the woods at Waveny Park in New Canaan. Among other things, we talked about how we run full-time businesses, have families and still manage to keep our sanity.
We also talked about how we manage our client interactions so that it all works.
Here are a few tricks I’d like to share:
1. Set Your Own Hours. Just because a client emails me in the evening or on the weekend, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t mean that I’m required to answer them immediately. I get to set my working hours. I also don’t get angry when a client emails me during these times, all it means is that THEY are working and I’m grateful that they’re putting work into my queue.
2. Use Technology. When I want to work in the evening or weekend, I use an email delivery tool that allows me to schedule when my emails will be sent. I find this effective because I can “stay under the radar” during evenings and weekends, but still be productive. It’s great to be able to respond on my schedule, while making sure my client receives my email at a time of my choice. Send Later for Firefox and Boomerang for Chrome if you want to do this too.
3. Manage Expectations. When I start working with a new client I set expectations in the beginning. I let them know that I’m usually at my desk between 9 and 6. I answer emails within 24 hours. I’m always “trolling” my email for emergencies and quick requests, and while I understand there are times when it’s important to start early and work late, I just don’t want it to be a way of life.
The result of this is simple: My clients know what to expect while I still having plenty of time with my family and friends!