Q: I thought that ‘freelance’ meant I could work when I wanted to. I get energized at night and crank out my best creative work from 10pm to 2am. My clients seem to think they can call me at any time, and who can blame them? They see that I email them at midnight! How can I work odd hours without having clients contact me at odd hours?
A: I love the drafts folder in email. If I’m working at night or on the weekend, I type up emails and save them in my email drafts folder. Then I hit send when my regular office hours roll around.
I also use the drafts folder during the work day. Most emails aren’t urgent. I used to reply to them all right away anyway, and you know what? I taught my clients that I was sitting around just waiting to reply to their request. Now, unless an email (or a call) requires an immediate response, I let it sit for an hour or two, or until the next day. I can write up my response whenever and save it as a draft, then just hit send when I’m ready. By delaying my response on emails, I have taught my clients that I am not always available, and that if they just wait a little while, I’ll respond. It makes going to meetings (or the dentist, or just taking a hike during the work day) much less stressful for me.
It also helps me focus on work. When I’m not worried about reading every email the moment it comes in, I can focus on getting tasks done. I can even turn off my email so there aren’t any distracting “dings” to entice me to stop working and look at email.
Do you try to stick to regular business hours for client communications?