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Yeah I agree with Greg.

Set your boundaries and stick to them.

Sometimes it can be hard. My work time is Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm. I’ve literally had clients call me at 5:25pm on a Friday. I used to say, ok I’ll work on it over the weekend and have it to you Monday. But in the end I was sick of giving up my own time.

From the get go I am really clear on my availabilities. Using the above situation, some people (not many) will ask for something over the weekend. I’ve gotten to the point where I will let them know my work availabilities are between X and Y (sometimes stated multiple times) and say that I have family commitments over the weekend. If it is overnight, I say I will work on it the next morning. Most people respect that. If you stick to your boundaries some people might get grumpy but many people will adhere to them.

One tip, under promise and over deliver. For example, for most quotes, if I don’t do it straight away over the phone, I can write up in about an hour (in the case where I need to do further research), however I never promise them that I will get back to them in an hour. Things come up and need my immediate attention. If I receive a call in the morning I will tell them they will have it by the afternoon. Usually I get it out in an hour (which they love), however they aren’t pissed when I deliver it at 4pm. If I receive a call after lunch I will tell them I will get it to them within the next 24 hours. Usually I will email it that afternoon however if my afternoon gets filled up then it’s no problem, I do it first thing in the morning. The client is happy either way.

Regarding my own time and how it effects clients I always ask myself:

Am I going to service them better working the weekend and being burntout over the week, or will I service them better if I have a chance to recharge, step away from the business and take on the task refreshed and invigorated?