Like many entrepreneurs, running my business during the pandemic has been a series of fire drills. In some ways, nothing has really changed. However, I like many people also have some newly minted responsibilities.
I had not planned on being a middle school and a high school teacher- but here I am. On the first zoom with the east coast at 4:30 am - working all day with clients and zoom, my husband across the room from me with his noise-canceling headphones- doing our best to comply with state orders while trying to live our lives.
It's simply gotten to be too much. The number of hours on Zoom (wasted in my opinion) - will never make up for the in-person productivity I had with my clients. Why? They are a high strung bunch who constantly have to be redirected. They are incredible people- but they have to be managed- and virtual is brutal for this.
Now, everyone (clients, family, children)- is in constant contact- so much so that it is overwhelming. I find myself sitting until 2 pm realizing that I haven't eaten anything, running to help troubleshoot printing or figuring out an algebra equation- and then having to pop on zoom looking "professional" to lead a masterclass. Or what ends up being the majority of scenarios, I haven't had a chance to change out of my pajamas!
The response timeframes have gotten out of control. No, I can't answer you the same day if you have asked me something that requires thought and a clear process. No, I can't jump on zoom as my calendar is jammed. I want to answer- but this is not life or death and we all need to reset expectations.
There are enough hours in the day, but I have to really choose my time differently. That is why I've done something terrifying but required.
This came to me after a series of conversations with colleagues who felt that people were ignoring them or not responsive. It happens - as everyone is moving fast- but to be fair- it's not always fun to tell people you just don't have time right now- or that you need more time to think.
But, that being said I did something crazy.
I've added an out of office message. I know some people will find it offensive. But I have to set boundaries. Chances are, if you read it you might feel the same way too.
I suppose this fits into my "set the bar lower" in 2020 theme.
If you are like me, Covid 19 has created a pressure cooker of expectations of responsiveness. It's gotten to the point where people just think I'm home so I "should" be able to answer. The truth is, I simply can’t. Between work and quite frankly homeschooling two teens unexpectedly (like many of you parents) - I had to rethink what communication looks like and how to make this work.
Sadly, due to deadlines and workload constraints, I've implemented some healthy boundaries around e-mail to allow for solid blocks of time to execute client work. I am unable to read or respond to e-mails unless your current SLA includes same-day response timeframes.
I will be checking e-mails at:
• 7:30 am /11:30am Pacific Standard Time
• 1:00/ 4:00pm Pacific Standard Time
Please don’t be offended, as this is true even for close friends and even family.
If you genuinely need to reach me urgently (if it can wait a day - it’s not urgent)
- If you have my cell – call me like it’s 1980 or even send me a text
- I have a 24/7 assistant that can answer and take exceptionally specific messages at 424-284-8916 - be as detailed as possible to ensure the accurate response
- Otherwise, you can also e-mail hello@ExecutiveCatHerder.com for the team
Thanks very much for understanding! This is a vulnerable moment for me, but after hearing feedback from others I think a lot of us feel the same.
Also, feel free to steal this template and modify it to your heart's content. All the best to you and yours, Maresa Friedman