It all seemed like such a simple idea – work full time on site at one company and work part time for a few remote clients during the nights and weekends. What’s that phrase about rubber and road?
I had worked part time for a local company prior to leaving McKinney and had done a reasonably good job keeping up with business while ensuring that both companies received appropriate attention. As I planned to start this venture, I assumed I could scale up the same procedure with little trouble. As it is with children, adding more does not scale the amount of work linearly.
The biggest challenge I’ve experienced so far is juggling the timing of needs as they come in. I had previously worked out the time of day that I would be available with each client so everyone had proper expectations. I broke everyone into two categories – day work and night work then assigned my entire days to one full time contract and all other clients would need to be handled in the evenings (post 8pm). The surprising challenge came with determining the gray areas of what was a “hot” item and when I should be flexible.
When I get a request from a night client during business hours, it’s surprising how much anxiety it can trigger as I quickly assess impact, priority, and source of the request while I’m supposed to be “off the clock” for that client. I want to be reasonable and acknowledge that there are times where I should take a 30 minute break from my day and respond to my night clients but I never want to double book my time. If I respond to a night client during business hours, that’s technically lost revenue I could be pulling in while I’m on site. How do I prioritize on the fly?
I can’t say I have it all figured out but I have found a bit of a rhythm that helps provide mental firewalls between my immediate tasks and the unpredictable stream of off-hour requests. By using my own crude triage, I can allow my brain enough room to quickly process an email when it comes in from a night client and mark it as “emergency”, “urgent”, and “regular.” If an emergency task comes through I make all attempts to disengage from my day job and answer the request. If it’s “urgent”, I mentally slot that email/task to be handled during my lunch break. Anything else I can release my brain from worrying about and know that it will be handled after the kids go to bed.
It seems simple but by giving myself the space to regulate and assign priorities, I’m able to provide more continuous attention to the task at hand and still have confidence that everything will be taken care of . It can feel like every email needs to be responded to immediately, but I have to trust my judgement otherwise it becomes impossible to give anyone the attention they deserve.
While I’m not able to devote a lot of time to it yet, the same principles hold true to Prologue Games projects as well. Whether it’s bank/credit statements, tax filings, legal documents, or just the weekly blog post, assigning triage priorities allows me to maintain the confidence that nothing will slip through the cracks and not worry about those tasks while I’m handling client work. My brain is a fragile thing, I need to protect it or I would worry myself to death.
How about you? How do you handle competing priorities?