Do you respond to work emails immediately? If you’re a freelancer who feels under pressure to respond to client emails and calls as soon as you receive them then read on to find out how to establish a healthy work-life balance in a world where you feel the need to be constantly contactable.
In this game you have to be constantly contactable! If you are a freelancer then you will know the importance of checking your emails regularly and always being available to your clients no matter where you are.
I learned of this after I started work one morning, checked my emails and found that I had received two emails (received at sometime past midnight in my time zone) from a potential client. The first email was to enquire about a potential project they wanted me to complete for them. The second email was sent a very short time after the first and was to inform me that they were not happy at all that they had not received a reply from me (bearing in mind that it was between 12.30-3.00am my time) and would therefore not be using my services now or in the future. Now, personally a potential client like this is one that I would be unsure of working with anyway, as they were clearly expecting a reply within minutes or even seconds and was the type of person that I could imagine having numerous issues with over petty matters. However, the point remains: being contactable is something that you must be on a regular basis, all of the time because it is not fair on your potential or existing clients for you to go AWOL without informing them beforehand.
In a recent study, the majority of a group of randomly selected people said that the average time in which they expect a reply from a service provider is 30 minutes. When you are sat in your office with your email page open on your browser this is not a problem however, when you are gone for a few hours, a whole day or longer, 30 minutes is not long for you to reply. Although most clients will understand if you have a plausible reason for not replying to their message/email, some clients may simply choose to not work with you at all if you cannot give some form of indication that you are out of the office with no access to the internet. This may sound extreme but it is true for some clients.
Now, you may not have a problem during working hours but when you leave your office chair, go to an appointment or have time off, you may find that you miss out on a lot of important messages. For obvious reasons you should not let your work take over so that you never take your eyes off of your computer screen however, when you need to leave your working environment during your typical working hours then you may feel more comfortable about doing so if you had a way of keeping in contact with your clients and associates should they contact you whilst you are out of the office.
Here are some easy and practical ways that you can make sure your clients are in the know and that you are always contactable should you choose to be:
• Leave an automated message stating you are away, when you will be back, how long you will be away for, how you can be contacted should you choose to be contactable.
• Notify your current/regular clients beforehand so that they do not feel let down should they try to contact you and do not receive a reply.
• Decide if and how you wan to receive notifications on your mobile devices. You might have just one mobile device, such as your Smartphone that you use for work and have email notifications switched on. Alternatively, you might choose to turn off work-related notifications on your phone. Another option is to get yourself a personal and business mobile device, whether the secondary is a tablet or another phone. Keep one for business hours and one for personal use. This is an excellent way to create a work-life balance when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
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