There are many different adjustments required when you move from working in an office for someone else to working from home by yourself. For me, one of the challenges has been scheduling time to catch up with people.
While working at Microsoft as an evangelist, part of my job involved meeting up with people, grabbing a coffee and finding out what they’re working on, often to see if there might be a helpful solution for them in Microsoft’s developer tools and frameworks. I enjoyed the chance to get out of Sandyford, visit other offices and just generally hear about interesting projects.
Now as I am working from home in Dun Laoghaire for myself and billing clients, I find the days absolutely fly by and I have precious little time to get everything done that I want to do. Spending three hours to head in to town, meet someone for lunch or coffee and then head back south, is now a luxury that I can’t always make time for. The hard thing about this is that it was a part of my job that I really loved, so it can be tough to say no to people because saying yes often comes at the cost of working late into the night or being behind on projects (and sometimes both).
Yesterday I asked Twitter how people do this, how they turn down people whether it’s because they no longer have the time, the conversations are less relevant or they don’t want to give away consultation work for free. I received some very interesting, mostly useful answers and thought I would share them. It seems to be something many folks have dealt with or are anticipating dealing with, so I hope this is useful for others as it was for me.
HOW TO POLITELY DECLINE REQUESTS FOR “CATCHING UP”:
“Sure I’ll let you know when I’m out your way.”
Suggest a halfway point or post-work hours where it’s handy for both
Tell them you now have to be strict with your breaks, now that you’re a freelancer.
Post something on Twitter about how you no longer have free time to meet for coffee :-)
Tell them you’re very busy with your new consultancy, etc. and that they can schedule a site visit or such
“I am sorting my belly button fluff for a mixed media presentation.”
Be honest about how busy you are and how valuable your time is.
It’s good to talk so fit them in if possible; a good test is to get them to come to you.
“No, but I can meet up after 6pm. And you’re buying the coffee.” :-)
I’ve decided nothing in life is free, so either do a free consultation if they’re going to pay, otherwise they can pay for just the consultation.
Barter. One hour of my time consulting on my specialty, then one hour on what they know about or another trade for which they’re paid.
Pre-invoice them for the time.
Invite them to your office to save your travel time.
Handle it with a call. Give high level information on the main changes needed and 2-3 examples from their site/app.
Pop over for a coffee and I’ll tell you how to deal with this!
Tell them to meet you at fastfit where there are loadsa types.
You gotta be blunt, it’s not show friends, it’s show business!
Many thanks to @blowdart, @janeruffino, @jkeyes, @mike_ireland, @jamfer09, @CAMURPHY, @dermdaly, @jaimekristene, @dotnetster, @enormous, @irishstu, @lucidplot, @User_Story, and @WebDublin for your very helpful ideas and tips.