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Can anyone help me solve this freelancing/sleeping problem?

(9 Posts)
sweetpotatosteak Sat 21-Oct-17 18:47:40

I have a sleeping disorder and work from home on a freelance basis because I typically don't get up until 2pm. For the most part this works well. I work in the afternoons and evenings and have my leisure time and then sleep late at night and in the morning and early afternoon. It typically doesn't matter when the work is done and I can be up in the morning on an occasional basis if a deadline requires that from me.

I have found, however, that I am losing out on a lot of work that comes in between 8am and 2pm. I hadn't realised that most people looking for my skills need an answer within an hour or so and if they don't get it more or less immediately they find someone else. Recently, I have been waking myself up throughout the morning to check my emails and I then go back to sleep if nothing's come in. But I don't always get back to sleep and end up getting ill quite quickly if my sleep suffers too badly.

I'm not sure how to solve this problem. Would letting my clients know that I have a sleep disorder be a good idea or should I try to avoid this? Could I pay an assistant a very small amount (all I can afford at present) to answer on my behalf or find an arrangement where someone else accepted projects on my behalf? Or even just wake me up when an offer came in? I know I'd have to let my client know if someone else had access to my emails and I don't know if they'd like that.

If I could set up an alert system whereby job offer emails woke me up then that might also work but I'm not sure how to distinguish job offer emails from other emails so that I don't get woken up by any and every work related email coming in to my inbox. I also have a Samsung smartphone at the moment which has been awful for setting up alerts. Nothing seems to work as the instructions say it should and it is not intuitive at all. So I'm in the market for a new smartphone and any suggestions there would be great.

I am currently trying to find more clients who work in time zones that more closely match my own but I like the European clients I currently have and would like to keep working for them (I am also covered by European legislation were non-payment ever to be an issue and don't think I'd have the same protections with companies outside Europe).

Does anyone have any advice? Or has anyone found a solution to a similar problem? I should say I live and work on my own and don't have any family members who are able to help out.

JustMumNowNotMe Sat 21-Oct-17 18:50:34

When you say sleep disorder, do you mean a recognised disorder diagnosed by a specialist clinic or you just can't sleep at "normal" times?

NC4now Sat 21-Oct-17 18:53:37

Yes, what’s the condition? Sorry to be nosey.
I wouldn’t tell your clients about your condition anyway. They’ll just use someone that’s available when they pitch the work out. You need to try and be available at that time of day really, in some form.

HarrietSchulenberg Sat 21-Oct-17 18:53:48

Put an Out of Office message on your email to let clients, and anyone else who emails you, know that you will respond after 2pm.

Or maybe set up an alternative email for clients only and put an alert on that account.

karriecreamer Sat 21-Oct-17 18:54:28

I don't think it matters "why" you don't answer emails in the morning. If a client wants something done in the morning and someone else can answer them quicker than you can, that's what matters to them - they're not interested in why you can't. It's not like employment where the employer can make adjustments. With self employment/business, you're in competition with everyone else, and customers/clients generally aren't interested in your personal circumstances. It's the quickest/cheapest who gets the job. In business, you have to adjust to what your typical clients want if you want their business.

DoubleHelix79 Sat 21-Oct-17 18:57:57

Could you hire a virtual assistant to check your emails in the morning and reply according to your instructions? I don't think they cost very much if you just need half an hour once or twice a day.

sweetpotatosteak Sat 21-Oct-17 19:18:00

It's called DPSD - Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder and I'm prescribed medication for it which helps greatly but will never make me completely normal. The disorder just means my sleep cycle is permanently out of tune with society's normal hours so regular employment would be completely impossible in my line of work.

What's annoying is that a lot of the offers aren't for work that needs to be done there and then. The agencies just want to know they've found someone who's agreed to take the project on.

I'd thought of having an alert for emails from clients but they often send emails that aren't job offers and I don't want all that stuff to wake me up. I'm also always looking for new clients and I never know what email address they're going to use when they start writing to me!

The personal assistant option would be worth exploring but does anyone have an idea of the cost? What's "not very much"?

DoubleHelix79 Sun 22-Oct-17 18:40:51

I've just done some quick Google Google and have seen hourly rates of £12,50 advertised for virtual assistants in the UK. Not sure if you'd be able to buy half an hour each day (e.g. 2 x 15 minutes), but that would only be £6.25. I'd also look into companies offering services from India or other low cost countries. For something as simple as checking emails and sending an agreed reply you don't need a UK resource really. Confidential data would be my only potential concern.

I also had another idea: do you have younger relatives or children of friends (late teens or early twenties) who want to make a few extra pounds by providing you with a similar monitoring / reply service? It might fit nicely around university studies etc.

You could specify rules in your inbox to recognise job offer emails (you can set up keywords, email address rules, etc) and then forward them to another email address (that only you could access); sync that one to your phone through a different app and have it set with a super loud, obnoxious ringtone.

Long term looking for clients in other regions - the US especially - seems like a sensible option given your sleeping habits.

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