For the past month, I have been on an adventure of boundaries and steep learning curves. I have realized that I am, in fact, a human being and not a machine and need down time and rest. I don’t need to be doing 17 things at once and looking into joining a gym near my workplace.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is deciding when it’s time to let go of something. I have been working as a freelance marketing consultant and writer for a few years now and depended on the supplemental income. I wrote articles on everything from marketing concepts to real estate to online music sources and even on the way and how we sweat. I learned A LOT about many different subjects and appreciated the opportunity my freelance work provided. Yet when I got my new job and the new responsibilities and stressors came with it, I struggled for a time trying to balance my old clients with my new responsibilities I found myself sitting at my computer after a long day of work slowly burning out and arriving to work cranky and tired. My mom did warn me I was going to have to reduce my workload and I figured it was time to take her advice.
Here’s What I Asked Myself:
Does This Make Me Happy? – Before I reduced my workload, I rushed home after work and inhaled dinner only to sit down at my computer and write about things that didn’t make me happy or feel fulfilled. I was putting off other, more “nourishing” projects for junk food that added a few extra dollars to my checking out.
What’s the Return on My Investment? – These days when people blog or write about marketing the catch phrase Return on Investment (ROI) is often thrown in to add credibility. It drives me crazy and when paired with the phrase, Search Engine Optimized – it makes me want to throw things. That being said, as I made my list and contemplated my own workload, I had to think about my own ROI. What was I getting out of these projects? Was I learning anything? Were the hours I was putting in to the projects worth the return? Some of them were and I decided to keep those and others not so much and have so been dropped.
80/20 Pareto Principle – There’s a saying in business that 20% of your clients take up 80% of your time. Much like ROI, it refers to unequal investments of time and money. I had one particular client I didn’t like and would cringe whenever they would call or e-mail. They wanted the world but only wanted to pay for a small island in the middle of a polluted river. I found myself getting resentful and not wanting to work for them at all. When my new job came about it gave me the perfect out. I bowed of my obligations respectfully and kindly and thanked them for their time. No bad blood was spilled and I left the situation feeling lighter and happier.
Is It Time to Stop? – As the stylish and fashionable musician Kenny Rogers once crooned, you just have to know when to walk away and know when to run. Sometimes you invest a lot of time and energy into a project and it’s hard to let it go. Sometimes it’s easy, usually it’s not. We identify with our projects and when we let them go we think we failed. But we didn’t. What I was failing at was taking care of ME and shoving aside my own projects to please others
I thought about this list long and hard as I whittled down my projects to a manageable size. This is the first weekend in a long time I haven’t felt rushed to write an article on the International Old Geezer Convention in South Florida or get a project done by Sunday night – I actually relaxed, made up a reasonable schedule for my projects and even took a nap or two. Tomorrow, when I go back to work, I will feel rested instead of fried and not need a gallon of coffee to stay motivated.
What about you, Gentle Reader, what do YOU do when your workload is getting too big? How do you parse everything out? Have you ever had to “fire” a client? If so, how did you do it?