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How to manage your work rate effectively

Keep deadlines at all costs

Any self-employed person, and certainly any new business, will agree that is impossible to turn down work. Even if you are manically busy, it is impossible to say no because of the fear that all existing work will dry up and that you will be left with nothing.

This is something that brings many a good company down – deadlines are missed and clients lose faith. However good the work, it is of little use when the deadline has passed. Clients are also quick to point out this failing to others and may recommend you but with the warning words “Good but a hopeless timekeeper.”

Photographer Jonathan Pollock has learnt over the years that you have to be skilled to juggle demands successfully. He suffers quiet periods and then everyone seems to want his work at once. Given that his business is his art, it is impossible for him to delegate at busy times – equally he wants all of that work to see him through quieter periods.

“I have been known to be at work in the studio with clients until 2am because I have another job the next day and we have to get the first one right.”

He has a team of freelance assistants who he calls on at busy times. They help with setting up sets and also man the telephones when he is at work. “You don’t want to miss a call from your next potential client because you are too busy to answer the phone,” he advises.

As a food photographer, Pollock also has to juggle the needs of other people during a shoot. “Food has to be prepared and goes off very quickly so I need a home economist on set but I try to minimise their time because that is another cost to the client – one which may escalate and cost you the contract in future.”

In terms of balancing work, he advises that everyone books a holiday well in advance and sticks to the dates. He also suggests “Never tell anyone that you have no other work. Say that you can squeeze them in, rather than that you are available at any time.”

Never tell anyone that you have no other work. Say that you can squeeze them in, rather than that you are available at any time.

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