How Much Is Too Much?

I just got off the phone with a prospective client who needs help getting an E-Newsletter started. We both came highly recommended from a friend we have in common, and at the end of our call he said to me: “Tell me where to send the check and when we can start.”

Pretty much exactly what you want to hear from a prospect. And then I told him I’d love to work with him, but that I’m booked until mid-October.

A couple of years ago, there’s no way I would have said that to a potential client, particularly one who appears to be such a nice match for what I do.  I would have been afraid that by delaying, he would have time to “come to his senses,” or find some other option. So I’d take the work on immediately, even if it would make me busier than I wanted to be.

In recent years, I’ve learned a couple of things…

The first, is that part of shaping your work life –- in addition to picking an office, choosing your clients, deciding how much to charge, etc. –- is deciding how much to work.    You don’t have to jump on every opportunity at the moment it arrives.  In fact, if you do, you’ll be giving away an important piece of what it means to be a satisfied solo professional: Setting the pace.

The second thing, is that most people are willing to wait.  Sure they’d like to get started right away, but they understand (and maybe even appreciate) that good people are sought after.  In my experience, you don’t stand to lose very much by putting the brakes on.

Figure out how much you want to work each month (whether that means hours or dollars), and stop letting the ringing phone determine your schedule for you.

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