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WIBU to invent some children

(79 Posts)
Anamechangewpukddoyougood Fri 10-Apr-20 13:14:35

I work from home (all the time not just now) as a freelance consultant. While I work incredibly hard to set clear boundaries with clients I’m frequently contacted on the phone, via text and WhatsApp at all hours.

More recently with many working from home and our days disrupted there seems to be an increased expectation that I’m available at any time in the evening, weekend etc. This isn’t from one client - it’s from a lot (and also from perspective ones - e.g can we do our initial call at 7pm etc.

Now of course I’m well within my rights to say no for any reason, however I’m finding that where I usually just say “I’m not available then” that’s a bit trickier bearing in mind that I’m obviously sort of available as it’s not like I’m going anywhere.

While I don’t have children - am tempted to invent some so I can say “no I’m doing dinner, bedtime, looking after the kids”

Yes I know this is nuts - but am struggling a bit at the moment. Usually I’m pretty tough on this stuff but the pressure to do more outside of usual hours (not urgent things) is rising quite a bit!

opticaldelusion Fri 10-Apr-20 13:21:12

You have a separate work phone which you only switch on during your working hours.

Minesacider Fri 10-Apr-20 13:25:00

I'd turn on "out of office" for emails, or a WhatsApp status that says, "currently unavailable".

Or, as above, a work phone would work well. You shouldn't have to justify not being available outwith working hours, everyone needs down time.

dontlikebeards Fri 10-Apr-20 13:25:23

I think you need to remember that many people are working different hours due to the circumstances at the moment due to child care, wfh licensing issues etc.

Just turn your phone off.

Thatbloodybear Fri 10-Apr-20 13:29:17

It's road to disaster if these are long term clients, you'll end up inventing names, birthday parries, graduations... Therein lays madness grin

ChandlerIsTheBestFriend Fri 10-Apr-20 13:34:57

I would just say you finish work at 5/6 (whichever suits you) and turn your phone off /out of office notification on at that time. Don’t turn it back on until 9am next day. They will get the message.

crosspelican Fri 10-Apr-20 13:41:16

I'm a freelancer as well and it's hugely important to set boundaries.

Not - "I can't, because I'm doing bedtime"

but "I can't, because my working hours are 9am to 6pm - I'll send you a Zoom link for 9.30am tomorrow."

"I don't work weekends - let's pick this up on Monday morning."

If they push "Oh, lol, it's not like you're going out!" you say "I know! It's so hard to STICK TO MY NORMAL BOUNDARIES during this time, but I think it's really important for everybody's sanity, right? So let's speak tomorrow morning at 9am."

And screen calls after 6.

I completely understand your position, and I think that boundaries are extra challenging and extra important right now.

Elouera Fri 10-Apr-20 13:41:48

Lying isn't the solution here. Even if you DID have kids, there is no guarantee people still wont call!

Agree with others. - Put an automatic out of office on at a certain time each day.
- Set your phone so unknown numbers have a different ring, and don't answer
- Have a message on your phone saying: 'I resume work at 9am tomorrow. If urgent, please leave a message, otherwise I shall return you call during working hours'.

You don't need to give an excuse as to why you aren't working 24hrs a day!

crosspelican Fri 10-Apr-20 13:42:56

If you let them treat you like a 24/7 service now, that won't go back to normal when all this is over.

Or just say, "Yes, I'd love to speak at 7pm, but should I send you my Out of Hours rate card first? My rates go up significantly for evenings and weekends. You might prefer to leave this til Monday!"

crosspelican Fri 10-Apr-20 13:43:54

My pushy clients have ALWAYS found it can wait when faced with the alternative of handing over cold hard cash...

OldEvilOwl Fri 10-Apr-20 13:44:41

Don't make excuses just tell people your working hours in a message if possible and don't return their calls/email until then

AmelieTaylor Fri 10-Apr-20 13:44:47

No. Be professional & state your boundaries. People will respect you more for that.

How flexible you're prepared to be re hours is up to you.

Just don't reply outside the hours you're happy to work.

pheasanteggs Fri 10-Apr-20 13:45:35

I have also seen automated calendars where if I want to book a meeting with someone I have to see their available slots online and book one it. The lady I did this with kept 4 hours a day open to be booked. Maybe you could refer all your customers to your calendar to book a slot and the slots are all on times suitable to yourself.

Dilisk Fri 10-Apr-20 13:50:20

I have a child, and it would never occur to me to mention him as a reason why I'm not available out of normal office hours. I just say I'm not available outside of whatever hours I generally work. I think using children as an excuse risks looking unprofessional -- people don't need to know anything about my personal life, and I find people actually respond better to a clear statement of the timeline in which I will engage professionally.

Pleasebeafleabite Fri 10-Apr-20 13:51:06

Just don't reply outside the hours you're happy to work

This. And say I’ve already got a call at such and such a time if you are asked for a time you don’t want to accommodate.

But bear in mind a lot of clients may be working odd hours to accommodate their own childcare issues. Maybe take some day breaks to allow evening working on the odd day

BringMeSunshineInMyLife Fri 10-Apr-20 13:54:05

Surely that is a good thing. As a freelance you get paid when you work? Going beyond for your clients is what they expect from a good freelancer. Saying you have to make the children’s tea would make me look for a different contractor.

Freelancers are not staff. They are not my employees. I don’t expect to hear about their personal stuff.

Your clients are buying a service, maybe you need to renegotiate the service that you offer and see if that is what people want.

I would end a contract with anyone lied about having children as that shows they are dishonest

PurpleDaisies Fri 10-Apr-20 13:57:41

Be more strict about what your working hours are. Clients contacting you outside those hours will have to wait. That’s normal working practice.

Carbosug Fri 10-Apr-20 13:57:43

I think it would be perfectly OK to say you're not available.
Available doesn't have to mean you're out and about. You could be having a zoom get together with family or friends, be dropping shopping to a parent or elderly neighbour, have a Skype meeting booked with another client.
You don't have to give a reason, anymore than you would be obliged to in normal times.

BringMeSunshineInMyLife Fri 10-Apr-20 14:04:40

Clients contacting you outside those hours will have to wait. That’s normal working practice.

But it isn't normal times.
Everyone is having to be flexible and an inflexible freelancer wouldn't keep their contract long- sorry.

MonaLisaDoesntSmile Fri 10-Apr-20 14:08:38

Always firmly give two options, I can call you then OR then. End of. Shows you're flexible and then it's up to then to make themselves available for one of the times.

ChocolateDove Fri 10-Apr-20 14:08:53

I thought this was going to be about buying Easter eggs for yourself and pretending they are for fake kids. blushgrin

Just tell them you are not available from x time because you need down time.

MonaLisaDoesntSmile Fri 10-Apr-20 14:10:40

Also, maybe find a compromise and with certain evenings/ dune weekend and give yourself free time on others, just inform your clients when your days/ evenings on are.

Redwinestillfine Fri 10-Apr-20 14:13:19

Just do a generic out of office 'don't alway have access to my emails at the moment will respond when I can' and turn your phone off when not working.

Zilla1 Fri 10-Apr-20 14:14:19

Please raise your ambitions, OP. Don't invent children, they've already been invented. Flying shoes, hover fruit, teleportation.....

LolaSmiles Fri 10-Apr-20 14:15:26

I think some flexibility would be good because these are not normal times, everyone is up in their air and it shows willing. That doesn't mean you have to be on call 24/7.
Personally, if I was freelance, normally was happy being contacted until 6pm and during lockdown a client requested 7pm then I'd probably propose 6.30 and make it clear that you're offering a little flexibility due to the current situation. I wouldn't be checking WhatsApp all night.

It's reasonable for someone to contact a freelancer by message/WhatsApp when it's convenient for them. That doesn't mean the freelancer has to reply at that time. Have an out of office notification, offer any flexibility by appointment only, and get a work phone/personal phone set up.

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