Vancouver Blogger, WriterGal Ashley Mikulik
Vancouver Blogger, WriterGal Ashley Mikulik
Vancouver Blogger, WriterGal Ashley Mikulik

Being Available 24-7: Good or Bad for Business?

August 25th, 2009
Vancouver Blogger, WriterGal, Ashley Mikulik on email

I have found a way to be productive AND available almost 24-7 for my clients

I’ve been reading many sources that say you shouldn’t keep your email open all day. They suggest having your email program turned off, except during dedicated blocks of time where you can focus entirely on emails.

I see both sides of the argument, but I’m going explain why having my email open all day, has benefited me and my clients.

Email Open During “Select” Times

Many people have suggested that you can be more productive if you don’t have your email open all day. I understand this helps you to dedicate and focus on your tasks-at-hand. In this respect I see the value in their suggestion.

However, as a small business owner, I feel it would actually be bad for my business.

Email Open ALL day

Yes, I have my email open ALL day. I also get emails pushed to my blackberry when I’m out or in the kitchen. The only times I am ‘not’ available is when I’m sleeping or at a family event (like dinner or a family outing). I think my clients appreciate that when they email me, I usually respond within a few minutes of receiving their email.

I have one client who emails their entire bank of freelancers when they need help with a project…the first to respond get’s it. For clients like these, I am able to respond, within seconds or minutes, resulting in me getting the project.

Of course I do let some emails slide, without an immediate response. But ones that have a question or query, I endeavor to respond right away, especially when it’s related to an approaching deadline.

Basically, I think that my clients appreciate the fact that I can respond right away to their queries. It has also resulted in being awarded contracts that are on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Why 24-7 works for me…

While it may mean temporary unproductive-ness during certain hours of the day, I  compensate with my work schedule. I am most productive in the afternoon and late evenings (when less emails come in) and I also often work on weekends when even less emails come in.

Also, first impressions with new clients are important. As a freelancer, I always need to be “selling” myself and looking for work. I am able to quickly respond to new client queries, and get right back to my existing work. Basically, I found a way to be productive and always (well, almost always) available.

PS: I am not a work-a-holic, so please don’t send me links to therapy sites. If you are a freelancer or are self-employed you know what I mean. I still have lots of time for my hobbies (including baking/cooking, photography, videography,and travel).


3 Comments for “Being Available 24-7: Good or Bad for Business?”

  1. Claudine Motto on August 25, 2009 7:06 pm

    Ashley,

    I think ultimately, it’s always about what’s best for you and your business. If you’re happy, productive, and feel balanced (whatever that means to you) that really is what counts.

    It seems that in your case you found a way to work around the costs of being interrupted…because the benefits to you/your business are worth it.

    I work with a writer/freelancer who is also in her email all day – so we worked on making her as efficient as possible in the WAY she uses email (i.e., we set up filters so that certain client emails go to a specific folder and bypass the inbox, we set up an FAQ so that she’s not reinventing the wheel answering the same questions, etc.)

    Bottom line: it’s smart to take the advice that’s out there but smarter to tweak it to your situation.

    I enjoyed this post and appreciated that you mentioned seeing the value in the advice that is normally given by time management experts.

    Claudine

  2. Ashley on August 25, 2009 7:11 pm

    Wow, thanks Claudine. You really put a lot of thought into your comment and I appreciate it!

    I have found great ways to make 24-7 work for me. I’m glad to hear that time-management consultants like yourself are helping people to bend the “rules” to find the best solution for themselves and their business.

    (By the way, I love your website. Very well designed!)

  3. Claudine on August 26, 2009 9:56 am

    I think it’s important for people to understand that what works for one person may not work for another. Sometimes it can take many tries and tweaks before you find a system that “clicks.” That journey, AND the end result are both fun.

    Claudine

    (Thanks – I owe it to Angela and her team @ OneLily, who designed it for me).

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