5 Things I Need to Change About My Business

5 changes I need to make in my business (before I go crazy!)

In many ways, the launch of Ultimate Book Blogger v3 has been amazing. But in some ways it’s actually been pretty bad, and has highlighted a few things that I need to change about the way I do business ASAP.

1) I need a staycation… Like, now

I’ve been working practically 24/7 the last few weeks. My schedule, seven days a week, has been:

  • Wake up
  • Work
  • Lunch
  • Work
  • Gym
  • Work
  • Dinner
  • Break

I see myself turning into a workaholic. And normally I don’t mind that, because I love what I do. But ever since UBBv3’s launch, things have been in overdrive.

I went from averaging 1-2 support tickets a week to about 5-10 a day. And the support tickets themselves went from simply answering questions to actually fixing bugs, which takes significantly more time. And I get it, that’s the nature of the job. I released a totally new product (well, the same product re-coded) and it’s going to have bugs that need fixing and new questions that need answering. THAT’S OKAY! I’m certainly not scolding people for submitting tickets. That’s perfectly okay and I’m here to help.

But I didn’t properly plan ahead for this. I should have cleared my entire plate while I focused on UBB, but I’m working on UBB in addition to several client projects. It’s all starting to weigh down on me. It’s hard to keep up and other areas of my life that I love (like my blog) are suffering because of it.

  • I have no “me” time.
  • I’m working too much.
  • I’m getting stressed.
  • Things frustrate me more easily.
  • I’m getting snappy because of said stress/frustrations.

I need a solid week-long break at home

Not a vacation. I don’t feel like I need to go anywhere, and I do have a few mini vacations coming up. But vacations in themselves can be exhausting. I just need a week of time where I can relax at home, maybe finally install Inbox Pause or whatever it’s called, and just do nothing. Or whatever I want.

In reality, I probably will work during this time, but it will be things that I love and want to do. For example:

  • I want to finally re-code my newsletter plugin. Not just to sell, but for me as well to use on my own blog.
  • I’m working on a new Small Business Contracts plugin that I want to use on my own site. (Though will probably release it as well.)
  • I want to play around with coding more themes.

Yes these things are still kind of work, but they’re things that I WANT to do. They benefit me as well because I want to use them on my own sites and my own blog. But these are the things that have fallen behind in my to-do list because client projects and support tickets have taken priority.

Sometimes the idea of a break is daunting in itself

Taking a break from work can be healthy, but it’s also incredibly scary. You know why? Because let’s say I do take a week off and activate Inbox Pause. Well I know that when that week is over, I’m going to have 150+ new emails I have to wade through. I feel like I’ll spend the next week after that playing catchup.

When does it end?!?

How do you handle vacations/staycations? What do you do about the huge inbox that awaits you when you return?

2) I need to take weekends off.. FOR REAL!

I tell myself (and my clients) that I take weekends off, but I don’t. Not really.

Typically I don’t do any client work on weekends, but my entire weekend is still spent doing work of some kind. That might be coding UBB, responding to support tickets, creating other new products (like Amanda), or sometimes secretly doing client work.

This needs to stop.

My biggest weakness is support tickets. I feel like I need to answer them all AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. But I need to set some actual business hours and stick to them. I’m going crazy without some “me” time. Maybe it’s some irrational fear that people will hate me if my response time is more than an hour.

  • I need to put office hour times/days on my website and make it clear that I won’t be responding outside of them.
  • I need to stop working on “work” on the weekends.

3) I need a schedule

I don’t particularly like schedules. I’m very much a “do whatever, whenever” kind of gal. But I think I actually need a schedule or some kind of structure. Maybe something like:

  • Monday: Client work
  • Tuesday: Pre-made products / support tickets
  • Wednesday: Client work
  • Thursday: Pre-made products / support tickets
  • Friday: Accounting / client work

Right now my schedule is more like:

  • M/T/W/T/F: Do client work, but then drop everything as soon as a new email/support ticket comes in

Maybe I’d get more done if I had a stricter schedule. What do you think?

4) I’m switching to yearly licenses instead of lifetime

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. When I first started my business, all of my products were released with lifetime licenses. That means someone pays one time, and I support them forever.

When I was only getting one support ticket per week, that seemed perfectly feasible. But when it came time to upgrade the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin, it became painfully evident how unrealistic it was.

  • I basically wasn’t getting paid to put in 100+ hours to re-code UBB.
  • Since I had 700+ customers to support all at once, I got an onslaught of new support tickets that I basically wasn’t getting paid for.
  • I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of people I had to support.

The industry standard in WordPress is to have yearly licenses that need to be renewed. I’d thought about this before but never went through with it. Now, of course, I see the error of my ways.

Yearly licenses help support the future development of a product. If people are renewing their license keys, I’m receiving more compensation to develop the product in the future. It’s easier for me to spend more time supporting my customers when I’m being paid regularly for it. It’s more sustainable.

So this step is one I’ve actually implemented on all my plugins. For new purchases, customers will receive 12 months of free support and automatic updates. After 12 months, they’ll have the option to renew their license key for another year. Whether or not they choose to renew, they’ll have lifetime access to the plugin itself. But they’ll only get support and automatic updates if they have a valid, in-date license key.

5) I need to stop doing small projects

I’m looking at the sheer amount of work that I have, and I think it’s time for a change. Here’s what I’d like to see my business go:

A lot of the things that weigh me down are the small projects. Things like:

  • Oh yeah, I can fix/do that for you for $50!
  • Yeah I’ll code that for you for $125
  • Sure, I can migrate you to WordPress for $99

I find that these projects are starting to feel like they’re not worth my time. Or more accurately, they take my time away when I could be spending it doing the things I want to do more (like code that damn newsletter plugin!).

I think I will start declining all these small projects and only take on big, long-term ones (like theme development and custom plugin coding).

What are some things you need to change about your business?

Are you a workaholic like I am? Do you need to work on getting more “me” time?

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  1. I don’t own my business, but I do work full-time. I have to say that taking time off is extremely hard for me. I supervise an office of 20 people and there is always a fire to put out. When I’m off, I almost always check my email, otherwise I will have an incredible number of emails to sort through when I get back (I easily get more than 200 a day, so a week off would be a mountain I could never climb!)

    The yearly licences makes plenty of sense and I’m sure it would be a sustainable model for you. About support tickets: It’s always amazing to me that you reply to tickets right away! I swear that you have the best customer service around. That being said, I don’t expect you to. I know that there is 1) a difference in time zones and 2) that you are not always available. I honestly had such silly issues sometimes that I figure I’m waiting your time and it can wait πŸ™‚

    Why don’t you “partner” with someone that is willing to take on smaller jobs, migrations, and things like that? An intern? A student?

    Liza @ Reading with recently posted: Top Ten Hyped Books I’ve Never Read
    1. Yeah that’s the problem, isn’t it? You can put a stop to the emails while you’re on a break, but then you’ll be buried in a massive hole as soon as you come back. There’s no way to win. πŸ™

      RE partnering with someone, it’s not a bad idea, but I wouldn’t know who to partner with. I don’t know of anyone who’s interested, and then I’d also feel like I’d have to train them, which sounds a bit stressful in itself, haha.

      1. I work in marketing for a bank and the joke we make is short weeks actually feel longer, because we’re squeezing 5 days of shit into 4 (or 3, or 2, depending on the time of the year). The work doesn’t go away, it just piles up before or after the time off.

        I still think that a web support forum for the UBB and your themes would be a great idea. Yes, it does take away some of your control, but there are bloggers and other coders who are able to answer the simple questions, like resetting permalinks, etc. Then you wouldn’t be burdened with so many tickets (because I’m sure you get a lot of those questions from newbies).

  2. For #3, I’m a plan-aholic. Ask me for any tips! I’m a big plan of energy management chunking up my to-do list either by day or half-day. Lately at my day job, I’ve been handling admin / emailing in the morning when I’m less creative, and writing in the afternoon when I’m more awake. With my blog, I’ve moved from doing a little bit each night to working on it for a longer chunk 3-4 nights a week. Like yesterday, I scheduled 4 reviews, and probably won’t review anything else until they’re published.

    As for what I’d change in my “own business” (if I can really even call it that): I need to stop letting fear take over. I don’t get much done mostly because I sit on decisions and projects for ages without doing anything, just scared of going for the opportunity.

    1. Thanks Brittany! I think I need to just experiment a little and see what works for me. I’m typically not a planning kind of person AT ALL so this will be a big change for me if I go through with it.

      Fear is huge! It’s definitely a tough one to overcome, but it’s important to get past it, otherwise you run the risk of never moving forward! Good luck conquering that. πŸ™‚

  3. I’ve always been amazed that you answer all support tickets IMMEDIATELY! Which is great for us, but you do need some time off! If you can figure out how to create some “me” time without the work piling up in your absence, I think it would benefit everyone in the end. Finding some things to make a priority and some to let go of seems like a good idea.

    In my day job I have scheduled tasks that keep me in a healthy rhythm, and that is so helpful — but then I tend to let blogging eat up all my spare time. I love it, but I’m thinking I should do some scheduling there as well.

    Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted: Ten Hyped Books I Haven’t Read
    1. I’m usually very happy to reply to support tickets, but I think I need to enforce business hours. I’ll be okay if I continue to answer tickets ASAP during business hours, but I need to learn how to turn off on weekends and after 6pm, you know?

      It’s not abnormal for me to be in bed with my husband, ready to go to sleep, then a support ticket comes through and I jump up out of bed and say, “BRB!” That’s pretty crazy, huh?

      That’s interesting what you said about blogging! I think it’s okay if you WANT blogging to take up all your time, but if you want room for other things too then a schedule might help. πŸ™‚

  4. I think the yearly license is very reasonable. Especially with how complex it is and how many updates you make to it. I mean, people will be bummed, but I don’t think they realized how lucky they were before.

    I had to cute off New Chapter Designs because it was causing too much stress/work for me. I wasn’t working 24/7, but it really started to wear on me after working an 8 hour work day and then coming how to work an additional 1-2 hours :/ I went though a big reading/blogging slump this past winter/spring and hated it.

    I think it’s a good idea to cut back. It’s not like you’re cutting back on bad things, but sometimes you have to say no to the good things to make room for the really great things that you love πŸ™‚

    Stephanie@ThesePaperHearts recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: Hyped Books I’ve Never Read
    1. Yeah yearly licenses are pretty much a WordPress industry standard, so you could say I was just behind on the times!

      I can’t imagine a 8 hour workday and then coming home for MORE work. That’s insane. I have enough problems JUST doing an 8 hour workday and still having free time after that, hah. I bet it felt like you were doing nothing in your life but working, and that sucks! I think you made the right move! πŸ™‚

  5. Have you ever thought of hiring someone to split the work with? Maybe instead of cutting back you need to expand. Maybe hire someone for the weekends only. Or someone who can learn all about your plugins and be the one to answer all support tickets. From what I learned when I got my BS in Business, you never want to reduce your business, just find a way to fix the problems for the benefit of you and the customers. Once you start taking away, the next person will latch on what you don’t offer and they might start looking like the overall better option. You grabbed the blogger niche by the balls, I wouldn’t risk losing any of that. But in the end you have to do what your are most comfortable with, I just wanted to give my two cents.

    Jennifer Bielman @ Bad Bird Reads recently posted: Review: The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
    1. Yeah that is definitely one direction… I’m just not sure I can take it. I know it makes logical sense and I’ve even read one super successful guy’s blog post about it (creator of Easy Digital Downloads). But I think I’m too much of a control freak to bring anyone else on board. I think my two worries are:

      1) Quality. I know this is stupid, but I just suck at trusting other people. At least if I screw up then that’s on me. But I usually trust myself to do the right thing, or at least own up to it and fix it when I don’t. But trusting someone else to know my products inside out and do the right thing all the time… I don’t know… that’s hard.

      2) Payment. Starting to actually take on employees is kind of scary as hell. What if I can’t afford it? What if I bring someone on, but then sales tank and I have to let them go? What if support tickets massively die down in another month (which I fully expect—they already have) and then my employee person has nothing to do?

      I guess I’d consider it if my support tickets were ALWAYS at the level they were at with UBBv3, but they’re not. I know it was a big influx during a big upgrade and it will die off again. I’m fully expecting it to die down again to 1-5 per WEEK over the next month or so. Then at that point, is hiring someone really worth it? (for them and me)

      1. Your employee doesn’t need to just handle the support tickets. They can handle things that you plan to get rid of like migrations, 50$ fixes, some of the custom projects. You know there are people out there that are just as brilliant as you πŸ™‚ and with a little direction can be just as good as you at fixing or creating projects. They can create the bulk and you can handle the final adjustments. There will be an adjustment period. You would make less overall because you would have to pay someone, but in the long run, I can almost guarantee you will make more money because your business will expand. More customers, more services, more money.

        You just need to take the leap. Try someone out part time. Do a trial period. You know contracts pretty well, make it so you are not stuck with someone if they are not good or don’t work the way you need. Start out with a low to moderate wage and promise pay raises (to a certain point) as the business grows.

        Jennifer @ Bad Bird Reads recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday #14: Anya and the Shy Guy
  6. I’m so sorry it seems like you’re going through a rough bout… I think a stay-cation with just lots of time spent on simply chilling out will do wonders for you! Don’t let work stress you out and take up all your time, especially when you need a break! I honestly think the yearly license for plugins sounds like a good plan because then it’s not all just un-rewarded work! πŸ™‚ I also think it’s tons amazing that you reply support tickets SO FAST. Just like a few seconds and I get a reply and this is basically my face –> O_O and then to this –> *O*
    I do hope you’ll keep coding themes though >< because I've been working on this complicated design with lots of illustrations (my secret project heh – now not so secret!) and I was hoping to get you to develop it for me, but if you do stop developing designs I'll completely understand πŸ™‚
    All the best Ashley! Don't burn yourself out πŸ™ You can do this! πŸ˜€

    Emily recently posted: This Girl’s On A Roll!
    1. Well right now I don’t have any plans on stopping my theme development work. πŸ™‚ I’d definitely love to develop another theme for you!

  7. I feel your pain even though we have vastly different jobs. I started on a huge weeding project this year in my library and it has taken over my life. I’m technically off in the summer since I work at a school, but I’ve been to work or at work functions (like conferences) almost every day since I worked my last paid day. I know this could put me in workaholic mode, but I’d rather get everything done as quickly as possible that worry about it at home or run out of time because I waited.

    I also have to have a schedule. I knew when I took this job that I would still work over the summer because I’m worthless if I sit at home with no schedule. I think in the future I’ll make my summers be the time that I work on some of the things on the back burner that I really WANT to do, like you said.

    Laura Ashlee recently posted: Mini-Reviews 2015, Round 1
    1. I know exactly what you mean about preferring to get it all done as quickly as possible. That’s exactly how I am too!

      Here’s to working through that back burner! Our projects can’t sit there forever. πŸ™‚

  8. I’ve always been amazed at how fast you respond to support requests! Even the ones I’ve put in as low priority because it was just a random question, or not something that adversely effected my site (and pretty much wasn’t noticeable to anyone but me!)

    Taking time off is totally something you should do. If you work 24/7 you’ll just end up getting stressed out and no one wants that. If people have to wait a day or even two to get an answer to something, they’ll live.

    The yearly renewals sound like a good idea as well.

    Silvara recently posted: Buying Books Out Of Series Order
    1. Yeah I’m not even sure why I have the priority option there because I don’t use it. I treat everything like it’s END OF THE WORLD priority, hahaha. πŸ˜€

  9. When I sent in a support ticket the other day, I was totally expecting you to take a day or two to get back to me, because it was pretty low priority. I was really surprised when I heard from you almost right away! Use your priority buttons to your advantage more, so you don’t go crazy!! Also, most of us won’t freak out if you take a stay-cation, I swear πŸ™‚

    Krystal @ Books Are My Thing recently posted: In Real Life: July 6th, 2015
    1. You’re right Krystal—I need to use those priorities. I have the option right now but I don’t even look at it. I just treat everything like it’s the highest priority. And I’m sure it’s nice that I treat my customers/clients like that, but maybe I deserve a break now and then too. πŸ™‚

  10. Okay, I thought you were already doing #4!!!! YES!

    #5 – Those little projects are FUN but… yeah… my opinion? Develop a list designers or coders whose (who’s?) style you like that you can refer the requester to?

    The rest are DUH! Of course you should!! You are a workaholic!! Make sure you’re having fun so it doesn’t become a “job” and stays a career (lame but true).

    1. Yes, bring on #4!! I’m finally getting with the times, haha.

      And yes, I love your idea for #5. Right now I have a list of referrals, but it’s SUPER SMALL. I definitely need to work on building this list out more.

  11. Part of the reason I decided I wanted my business (or what turned into writing books) as a side business and not something I did full-time is because I’m a workaholic and don’t know when to quit working. I burned out frequently and it wasn’t pretty. Plus, when it’s not my sole source of income, I don’t feel like I have to work all the time, which lets me feel less guilty about taking time for myself.

    Batching your tasks is a smart idea. I know plenty of online business owners who do, and they find themselves more productive as a result. I think because any task switch requires extra mental energy, so if you stick to one task, you’re more likely to stay in the zone longer.

    Have you thought about raising your rates rather than saying no to the small projects? Charge more (you’re worth it, after all) and people will either pay you (and make it worth your while) or decide to go elsewhere (so you don’t have to say no to them). Or set a limit on the number of the small projects you do take. Regardless, I think you’re headed in the right direction, business-wise. It’s smart to diversify your income stream and create passive income. I wish I had been able to do that with editing. (But alas, it’s not very conducive.)

    Amanda @ On a Book Bender recently posted: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack {Kelly’s Review}
    1. I think it’s great that you’ve been able to identify yourself as a workaholic and separate things out accordingly. Go you!

      I actually have raised my rates pretty substantially, but sometimes it feels like it’s never enough, or when it is, I still end up with some wasted time (I feel bad calling it that, but it is).

      When someone submits an inquiry, I still have to spend a lot of time emailing, going back and forth, going over details, and finally delivering a quote. Then if they say no, that’s a lot of time I spent communicating and drafting up a price quote for nothing. And I understand that it happens sometimes, but I’d certainly get less of that if I could just say, “Sorry, I don’t do that,” right off the bat.

      I guess I just feel like I want a pretty big minimum (like, let’s say $500) and there are some things I’d just feel horrible charging that for. If someone comes to me wanting something that would literally take me 15 minutes, sure I could charge them $500 and they either pay it or they don’t, but it would kill me if someone actually paid that. And I know, it’s “value based pricing”, so if someone’s willing to pay that it’s clearly worth it for them. But it doesn’t change how I’d feel about it.

  12. I’m glad you at least are still getting to the gym. Sticking to a schedule will definitely help; I am always surprised at how fast you get back to me with things I mark low priority that are just silly visual things. I don’t expect a reply for a day or 2 on those.
    If you stop doing the little things like coding for $50, do you have someone or 2 that you would recommend? Having your stamp of approval would make people feel more secure.

    1. Yeah sticking with my gym schedule is really important to me. πŸ™‚ I don’t go every day but I try to go 4-5 times a week and I’ve been sticking with that pretty religiously.

      I definitely need to put together a list of referrals so I can direct people elsewhere for those small jobs. I think the problem I have is that I very much like to feel like I’m giving my stamp of approval, but there aren’t many people that I know and can trust, you know?

      Like, maybe I know someone and they COULD do the job, but I’ve seen some of their coding and it’s honestly not great. So I wouldn’t REALLY want to recommend them.

      Or maybe there’s someone who I don’t know very well, but it sounds like they could do the job, but since I don’t actually know them well then I’m hesitant to give them my approval stamp.

      Does that make sense? It’s hard to find a bunch of people I know well, trust, and know can code well.

  13. I completely support you doing what is right for your business (and for yourself and your sanity!) but I am afraid I’m going d to lose my favorite “small coding jobs” person! πŸ™‚

    I’m with you on moving more towards the pre-made products and “passive” income, with more passion projects on the side. The quick projects are the ones that are EXHAUSTING me.

    1. Aw thank you Allie! It has been so wonderful working with you. I meant to send you a follow up email saying that after the last project, but it was a week later until I finally got around to it, and then I felt silly for sending an email a week late, haha.

      The quick projects are SO EXHAUSTING! You’re right. I feel like I never charge enough for them. I usually nail how long it will actually take me (usually) but I never factor in all the emailing, back and forth, quoting the project, etc. So in the end they almost never feel worth it to me, or they’re just too exhausting for what they are.

      1. Emails from you are always welcome! πŸ™‚ I’m going to have to find more projects to collaborate with you on, just so we can continue working together! πŸ˜‰

  14. Another thing you could do about the UBB is when you come out with a big new release that required you to entirely recode it AND it has cool features (like multiple books per post!) you could totally charge an upgrade fee. I was surprised that you didn’t. It makes me feel a little guilty honestly. It also makes me worried that if you burn yourself out that there will never be new features in the UBB! I love that plugin and even thought I already invested $35 I would totally pay another $10-15 to get the cool new version! That way people can keep the old version if they want and you could phase out updates and support for the older plugins. That’s how other software works and I think people are used to that. Since the UBB 3 is still in Beta, you could still charge to upgrade when it’s fully released. I really think you should. It’s been worth every penny I spent on it.

    1. I know I could have done an upgrade fee, but I think I felt really bad about it, because until that point I’d sold everyone a license key for LIFETIME upgrades. And sure, I could argue that it was a “different product” but I think I would have felt like I was ripping people off, you know?

      At least when I did that with Tweak Me v2 it was sold as a separate product all together. Tweak Me v1 still exists and still gets updates (occasionally). V2 is a totally separate product. But UBBv3 wasn’t really being sold as a separate product. I replaced the old product (v2) with the new one. V2 just no longer exists period.

      Believe me, it would have been nice if 700+ people paid $10 to upgrade to a new version, but I would have felt really bad about that.

      But all future purchases will have a 1 year license key, with an option to renew at a discount after a year. πŸ™‚ That way I’m not really changing the “deal” with any past customers, I’m just making a new deal for new ones.

  15. Even though you don’t need ANYONE’S approval (especially mine!) to make your life more effective for you, I totally think you are making good decisions with all of these things. While I have always appreciated your speedy response to support tickets, I never expect you to respond immediately — we all know you are running this show yourself and I think we understand the need to keep regular business hours/take vacations(or staycations)/take weekends off/consolidate your tasks. I also would not mind paying a yearly license fee to keep support on your products and this is absolutely fair. You should be paid fairly for your work and expertise while also being able to live your life!

  16. Honestly, I feel bad when I put in a support ticket. I’ve never waited longer than 12 hours for a reply and that is insane. When do you sleep? I know you are across the pond and in a totally different time zone, but it really seems like you don’t sleep.

    Perhaps you should handle the high priority ones right away in your working hours and the others can wait until later on? Or maybe find a partner who can learn things and help with the little things and then send you a review of what was done so you know, leaving you to handle the big things.

    You are amazing. Your products are incredible and your support is insane, but always exceeds expectations. But you can’t be a workaholic. It’s not good for your health, it’s not good for your marriage, and it’s not good for your life. Maybe instead of a schedule to do things, like your different things daily, why not devote part of the day to one thing, part to another, and then stick to working hours. Outside working hours, use that for the stuff you want to do and to take a break. You deserve it.

    Ariel @ Fictively recently posted: A Fictive Week (8) Slowly catching up
  17. I’m always impressed when you respond to my tickets right away! I try to prioritize them as “low” when I send them so you (hopefully) don’t feel like you have to rush to them haha. I think the idea of a schedule actually makes a lot of sense. If you tell yourself you have one, you may be better at sticking to it. If I schedule my workday out I usually have better luck with getting it all done.

    Lauren @ Bookmark Lit recently posted: Review & ARC Review: Daylight Falls Series
  18. I don’t think we have submitted any tickets, but we (and Ashley has to forward the emails since she is technically the client) are always SO IMPRESSED by how professional and detailed you are. Even if it is just a little update on the site being slow or something a lot longer like an attack on our accounts. You are probably the best “service provider” I’ve ever had. πŸ˜€

    That being said, take a staycation — don’t check those emails. Since I do have set working hours I know it is different for me, but if I am not working I am not checking email unless I know something crazy big is about to happen at work. I have clients all over the world too, so I get emails in the middle of the night etc. and I just won’t do that to myself. Maybe on your vacay you check emails once a day for anything absolutely high priority (and outline what exactly high priority is beforehand) for sanity’s sake and then otherwise just let it go. And in general, maybe creating expectations for “set hours” would be a good thing. I know 150 emails is a lot (oh, trust me, I know about that), but 150 emails after a refreshing time off can be a satisfying way to get back into the job.

    Anne @ Lovely Literature recently posted: MAKE ME READ IT READ-A-THON!
  19. Oo ? I have the same problem with batches and scheduling in stuff. I find it more helpful to group tasks into batches and schedule in time for batches (rather than individual tasks). I’ll doing something really boring and tiring, wash dishes (something that doesn’t require thinking), and something really creative. That way, at least i spend a part of the day on something I care about.

    I burned out for years running at full speed. It was ugly. College dropout over here. ?

    I can see how much love you put into this blog and your customer service. I just hope you won’t burn out or miss out on family time. Good luck!!

  20. Sounds like you have a good plan to implement. At least you recognize you need to find a balance before you burn yourself out completely. It is easy to get caught up in becoming a workaholic. *waving my hand over here* I’m a recovering workaholic that slides off the wagon a lot. I hope you find your balance soon for your own sanity.

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  21. Ashley! I feel ya on this. I’ve been a bit swamped lately too. Though I stopped working nights and weekends a long time ago and am about to go on my third vacation this year (yup!).

    1) Inbox Pause is awesome. Also, set an auto-responder and get another developer to check your emails while you’re on break. I typically have someone go through and file all my emails for me so when I open my inbox after vacation, it’s not overwhelming. Things are filed into urgent, inquiries, and random. Junk is deleted. It’s best to have another developer do this (instead of a VA) so you know things are being filed properly and they CAN help your clients out if really needed. I typically trade this service with other developers (we cover for each other) so let me know if you need me to check emails. πŸ˜‰

    2) Put your office hours everywhere. Website, contracts, email signature, auto-responder. I just wrote a blog post that covers some of this on FTF: http://freelancetofreedomproject.com/get-out-of-your-inbox/

    3) Marie Poulin has an incredible post on creating schedules: http://mariepoulin.com/blog/design-your-ideal-week-increase-productivity/

    4 & 5) Yes, yes, and yes! You can do it! Yearly licenses and turning down (or outsourcing) small projects is the way to go!

    Erin E Flynn recently posted: How to get things done
  22. Everyone deserves a break.

    With that said, when you own your own business? Time off really equals more work and stress on Monday morning, especially if you’re a one woman (plus a hubs that rocks) show. I would start with baby steps.

    Set yourself a daily schedule: WORK HOURS. Learn to stick to it. Love it. DO IT.

    That is the hardest/easiest step. Self-control is hard, but at the same time you’ll be working everyday and feel productive. Lessens the guilt of stopping at 6 PM instead of working all hours.

    Weekends: Know it’s okay to take two days away. Send your clients an email reminding them that you’ll be implementing a no weekend work schedule (at least at first — since they are use to your 24/7 lifestyle) this will do a couple of things for YOU. You’ll know that your clients know come Monday morning, you’re going to be on their problems like white on rice and they will be resolved as timely as possible. You’ve set an expectation and that’s what really counts. And two you’ll get to work on the fun stuff, which it sounds like will actually benefit your clients in the long run, soo win win. πŸ™‚

    Staycation time: Clear the schedule COMPLETELY for two weeks. No new projects. Make sure your projects can/will be done prior to vacation day one. Spend vacation relaxing, enjoying your time. When you come back, yeah, you’re going to have 89749182734982734 emails and tickets and whatever else people send you on a daily basis, but you’ve got a clear schedule the week after vacation to FOCUS on fixing those issues/responding to questions. And because you don’t have NEW projects that week you can keep up with new tickets while clearing the old. Yeah, it’s going to probably cut into the profit margin those two weeks, but if you get your break and come back refreshed and keep yourself from burn out, that is worth it. 100%.

    You gotta take care of yourself. This awesomeness that is Nosegraze can’t exist without you and if you aren’t a happy you the work will not be fun anymore and you’ll eventually lose your passion for what you love. I know I’m a new client, but I understand the need to live without you for a week. You give us 110% (heck maybe even 200%) every single day, that dedication to us gives you our loyalty. We aren’t going anywhere because you need some you time. xoxox

    1. Thank you so much for all your kind words Miranda! And you offered some very valuable tips too. πŸ™‚

      I’m definitely taking steps to improve my workflow already. This week I spent a lot of time doing things for ME and it’s already made me feel a lot happier and more relaxed. πŸ™‚

  23. My hope is that a lot of things will smooth out for you as the bugs in UBBv3 get worked out. Also, you might want to make the default on a support ticket to be low priority. I would consider most of what I’ve submitted in the past to be low priority, with the rare medium priority, but I forget to change the setting to low.

    I’m pretty sure the only thing that was high priority since I hired your services was that login attempt attack I had. You handled that quickly, with the utmost professionalism, and kept me posted as to the progress. Because of this, I’m singing your praises everywhere. I hope people are listening, whether I get affiliate credit or not. That’s just icing on the Nose Graze cake. πŸ™‚

    Definitely take some type of vacation, whether it be out of town or a stay-cation, but DO IT. Take weekends off (says the gal doing email on the weekends…but I’m not burned out…I don’t have anyone to be accountable to that would cause burnout). When I submit a ticket on the weekend, I certainly don’t expect any kind of response to a low priority item until YOUR Monday or Tuesday (us being on different continents).

    Whatever schedule you want, do it. If it’s made known to those doing business with you, we know what to expect. You do miracles, but you don’t have to do that. I’ll still sing your praises about the fantastic work you do.

    Stop by a spa during your vacation and get pampered. You deserve it!


    Amelyn recently posted: Ruin & Rule by Pepper Winters

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