Nothing is truly urgent.

If a customer tells you they needed something yesterday, laugh. Because it’s a joke. Everyone knows that you can’t get things done in the past. 

In the work-world, everything is ‘urgent’. I need this report now. I want to start this campaign now. I want to launch this website now. Now. NOW. NOWWW. This gets worse when it’s with freelancers / agencies.

I have a customer who is extremely busy — he truly is — through the week that he can only think about marketing / content on Sundays. He’ll write to me on Sunday and expect work to be done before Monday. But even if I do it and send it on Monday, he doesn’t respond before the next weekend. <shrug emoji>

In all my 13+ golden years of working, I’ve realised that nothing is ever truly urgent. So, to avoid being unnecessarily stressed by unorganised clients, here’s what I do:

#1 | I remind them that work takes time.

There is this kinda-tacky thing I use. I say, I can do it well and peacefully in 10 days. Or I can do it hurriedly and stressfully in 10 days. But whatever deadline you set, this work needs 10 days. A reasonable client gets the point.

#2 | I say no to rush jobs.

When a client comes to me and says, I need a whitepaper written in 2 days. I just say no. 

They’ll ask, ‘how long will it take?’ 'Ideally 2 weeks.'‘Can you do it in one week?'‘No.’‘Okay, I’ll get back to you.’ 

Almost always they’ll come back to me the next day and ask me to get started. Because they know too that it’s impossible to write a good whitepaper in 2 days. Also because, it’s unlikely they’ll find another writer in the next two weeks, who will do this work in 2 days. And the campaign will work just as fine in 2 weeks.

#3 | I charge a ‘50% rush job fee’.

There has only been one client who was willing to pay this premium. 🙂 This can’t be 10% or 15%, because that’s not a big enough addition for them to get the point. It has to be a sum that shakes them up. They need to ask themselves: Is it urgent enough for me to pay this much extra?

The thing is, we all live in a world where we want to do a lot more than we reasonably can. So, we’re always left chasing yesterday’s tasks. Clients are doing the same too. By rushing us, they’re hoping they can catch up on their delays. There’s nothing wrong with that — they can wish.  

But what that really means is that I’m pushed to do extra work to cover up for their inefficiencies. And I need to really love them to go that far. I do make exceptions. But those exceptions come at a high price.

PS: Or this!