Contrary to what many of today’s political and business “leaders” demonstrate, it’s never professional to blame someone else for your mistakes or failures. Whether you work for someone else or as your own boss, the only person responsible for your behavior and productivity is you. Instead of getting into a mess and then struggling to clean it up, try to prevent it in the first place. Here are a few tips for preventing and handling trouble.
1. Be realistic. As a freelance editor, I have to estimate how long it will take to complete an edit so I can give potential clients a timeline. If I have multiple jobs at the same time, I need to be realistic about my schedule. With a clear schedule I can edit a full-length novel in a couple of weeks. If I’ve already committed to other jobs, however, I need to consider those, too. Also consider holidays, birthdays, and vacation so you can give an honest estimate before starting an assignment.
2. Be pro-active. Kids get sick. Cars break down. Storms occasionally knock out power. First, make sure you give yourself a couple of extra days when estimating the project length, just in case any of these things do happen. If any of these things do happen, don’t wait until the day before a project is due to contact a client and tell them you’re running behind. Contact your client immediately to let him know about the delay and how much extra time you’ll need. Most of my clients have been very understanding; rarely has an extra day or two made much of a difference. You may not be so lucky, but at least you’ll know that you acted honestly and professionally.
3. Take responsibility. It doesn’t matter if your aunt died, the dog broke your computer, or the norovirus took you out for a week – you signed the contract, you’re responsible. Don’t make excuses for why the work isn’t done or won’t be done on time – communicate with your client to figure out how you can fix the situation and make it right. Blaming someone or something else doesn’t excuse you from your contract. It just makes you appear as if you can’t (or won’t) do your job.
4. Apologize. Even if your house was burglarized and all of your electronics were stolen, apologize to the client. It will go a long way.
And now I’ll take my own advice. I missed two blog posts this month – I’m sorry. I’m already looking ahead to the rest of the summer to make sure all of my posts are ready to go. Thank you for your patience and understanding.