When you started out you were so glad to get email enquiries, calls and visitors. Getting people through the door, even a virtual one was the best feeling! Someone was interested in what you were doing. Your idea wasn’t going to flop, your services were needed and more importantly wanted. You weren’t going to fail and starve. You were so overjoyed to see and hear from these clients that you forgot to set boundaries. “Just email me anytime.” “No problem.” Your fear of failure created a monster. A never-ending stream of questions, requests and demands.
Now there are days, lots of them, when you feel you are suffocating under the weight of your inbox. It’s not the client’s fault, they are just doing their best to manage their own emergencies and so the cycle is never broken. Unless you do something about it that is.
When was the last time you said, “no”? What’s stopping you? Maybe you’re afraid that your reputation will be hurt, that people will stop coming back or go somewhere else. Perhaps they’ll tell their friends and that will be that. The work will dry up and you’ll be out of the game.
The thing is if you allow unnecessary admin, (the kind that you can clear up by managing client expectations), to suck all the joy out of your work, then you’re going to kill your ‘art’, and your business slowly anyway. Your impatience with clients and staff will eventually show, and your resentment will mean that you never do your best work.
If you are overwhelmed by mismanaged expectations, then you leave no space. No time to think, create, design, brainstorm, make maps and come up with ideas worth caring about. No time to say, “yes” to the right things, and no time for the thing that brought people to you in the first place.
Image by Joe Shlabotnik.