You're the Boss of You
Have you ever said any of these things to yourself?
"Well, I never know when I'll get XX thing from XX client."
"I can't turn off notifications because XX expects me to email back immediately."
"I hate it when XX doesn't do XX what I ask of them."
"I always have to follow behind XX to check on their work."
"XX never pays me on time."
"I never know when XX is GOING to pay me, let alone on time."
One of my friends posted a link to this article on Facebook yesterday. It is about domestic violence.
(Which is such an enormous problem that I almost daily feel hopeless about the future of our world.)
What stuck out to me from this article, was this sentence:
What is allowed will continue. What continues will escalate.
That relates to personal lives, obviously, but also to business lives.
I KNOW people in domestic situations that I can't do anything about and I hate it. But I can't do anything about that other than say, "I'm here. I'll do what I can if you want to try to get out." I can help with business, though, so let's do that.
So that statement, as applied to business, is how I got the title of this blog post:
You are the boss of you.
And you are the boss of your business.
What you allow will continue. What continues will escalate.
If there are no consequences, there will be no change in behavior.
What do you need to put a stop to? And what consequences will there be?
Here's a pretty hard-line stop one could employ: Let's say you're on retainer and you do a monthly email for someone. They are always always ALWAYS late in sending stuff. In 2018, you have a new policy: no stuff, no email. They still pay. All of a sudden there are consequences. You have reserved the time in your schedule to make the email. (In order for this to be very effective, you have to invoice in advance, though, because they could always just not pay. It depends on how important the email is to them. If it isn't important they won't make it a priority. )
Another potential line: Let's say you do marketing emails for a client that always changes their calendar. (Let's say you're going to do marketing emails AT ALL.) Put it in your contract that once the email is made and a test is sent, it is considered "delivered." So the client can change their mind over and over, but they have to pay. (I do this. When I instituted the policy, the last minute changes decreased to almost ZERO. Sometimes something happens and we have to switch a promotion, but it is in the contract that they pay for something that has been made. If that happens I try to see if I can re-purpose the email for later.)
Those darn notifications: Notifications waste SO MUCH TIME, PEOPLE. I'M SORRY I HAVE TO TYPE THIS IN ALL CAPS. I CAN'T HELP IT.
EVERY TIME YOU GET A NOTIFICATION IT DIVERTS YOUR ATTENTION AND TAKES YOU OUT OF WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
There is research about this but I'm about to jump on a plane. Here is one article. Here is another that references the first. A good article about distractions and productivity.
TURN. OFF. YOUR. NOTIFICATIONS.
If you have someone who has to reach you immediately, tell them they need to call you and if you're available you will pick up the phone. If you're not, they can call you back.
Very few of us work in true emergency situations. We let our clients get away with turning EVERYTHING into an emergency, though, and it is hurting our productivity, which is NOT GOOD FOR OUR CLIENTS.
Ok, phew. Caps lock off.
The TL; DR Version
YOU set the parameters for your business. YOU tell your clients how it is going to work. YOU set deadlines, communication parameters, working hours, and communicate them and STICK TO THEM. (Oops sorry I found the caps lock again.)
Draw your line in the sand.
You decide what behavior is acceptable (getting stuff on time, getting paid on time, clients not contacting you via text message--whatever it is) and then you reward good behavior and you make sure there are consequences for THE OTHER PARTY when they engage in unacceptable behavior.
DANG, sounds like I need a weekend!
Well, I'm doing it. I'll see you after Thanksgiving. Hope your holiday is great!