The all-nighter seems to be the staple of so many freelancers.
There is just so much work to do and things need to get done.
At least that’s the convenient excuse. I find that the reality is that you are a poor planner and have bad productivity habits.
So what are you doing wrong that contributes to the ‘all-nighter’?
You don’t know NO
If you have so much work that you have to stay up all night, why haven’t you been saying NO to more work? All you’ve done is take on anything that came your way with no real discrimination.
You probably have 2 projects that are a bad fit for your skills right now anyway. You probably have at least 2 projects where you didn’t charge enough either.
Learn how to say NO often.
Just last week I said no to a project with a silly deadline (more on that below) but it was great money. It wasn’t a great fit though. Yes I could have done the work but it wouldn’t have been fun.
Well the next day I had an awesome project come up working with the open source plugin Pods. That’s a project I’m seriously excited about and is a great fit. Not just something that could work and came along.
Rates are too low
If you have so much work that you are working till 2am regularly then raise your damn rates. You’re obviously a ‘steal’ and what the clients are stealing is your life from you.
The small amount of money that they are giving you isn’t worth your health. The faster you learn that the better off you’ll be.
You agreed to a stupid deadline
Just last week I had a clien that had a 6 week deadline for project completion.
Could I have done the work in that time? Just barely, but I had also committed 2 weeks to someone else. So that really left me with 4 weeks to do 6 weeks of work.
Two years ago (heck probably even last year) I would have said ‘yes’ anyway and been stressed for the next 6 weeks. Last week I said.
Well I could serve you poorly and another client poorly and we might hit your 6 week deadline. I don’t think either of us wants that though.
So no I don’t have the project since I wouldn’t agree to the deadline (and implied they’d get bad work). If you don’t think the work can get done in XX weeks then don’t say yes to it.
You have only yourself to blame about ‘all-nighters’ when you agree to stupid deadlines.
You don’t work during the day
Sure it’s fun to be able to go out in the middle of the day for a walk. Sure it’s fun to go to the coffee shop and just people watch and call it ‘working’.
But it’s totally stupid and childish to do either of those things when you have work to do.
Fine clear your head with a 10 minute walk but don’t take a 2 hour stroll like a person of leisure in your jogging suit.
The work day is for working. Get off your ass (metaphorically) and work.
Next time you start talking about the ‘all-nighter’ stop and figure out what you did wrong. Then tomorrow make sure that you set up so it doesn’t go wrong again.
photo credit: clement127