Predictably unpredictable

Spreadsheet Panic

So, I usually blog about work…. ½ day excel courses, putting theory into practice, spreadsheet risk etc. but a new year and a new blog  – my thoughts on how I deal with the unpredictability of the world of freelancing / project based work.

As most people who work on project based work might agree the only thing that is predictable is the unpredictability of it all. One month I can have the most successful month since I started on my own 4 years ago, lots of Excel and PowerPoint training booked in, multiple spreadsheet consulting projects and lots in the pipeline. Other months it can be a struggle to see where the next big project is coming from. Then when you are least expecting it, a client gets in touch in a big PANIC to say that their spreadsheet has fallen apart and needs help NOW. Often when this happens, when I say they “get in touch” I mean, they call, email and text – just to make sure I really know there is a PANIC in their lives and it needs fixing.

My one piece of advice to myself to deal with this unpredictable predictable situation is when work is quiet; to act like today is my last day off. I don’t mean this in a deep way where people say act like today is your last day on earth, (no offence, I love fixing spreadsheets, but if it was my last day on earth, I wouldn’t be at my computer, I would be on a beach somewhere eating a lot of Dairy Milk). What I mean is that I never want to be in a situation when someone contacts me for a new project, and all that goes through my mind is “Help! But I have to do my tax return! Prepare my accounts! Plan for a training session that was booked in months ago but I haven’t got round to planning yet!” Instead, I want to be able to quickly say, “Yes no problem, what do you need?”.

The downside is that I can spend some days when I can barely breathe because I am trying to get everything done. The next day, no new leads come up and I wish I had spread-out my to-do list, but when that panicked clients gets in touch and I am available to help, then I know yesterday’s running around was worth it.

If you have a spreadsheet you think could do with some love, please get in touch.

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2 thoughts on “Predictably unpredictable”

  1. Great advice. I would add that, it is ok to enjoy the quiet days. This can be hard when you are worrying if there will be another client any time soon, but like you say – there almost certainly will be one. In the meantime Dairy Milk sounds like an excellent idea – even if it has to be enjoyed on a cold and rainy day in London Town.

  2. So interesting Gina! After 2 years of freelancing I’ve finally reached a place where I can enjoy the quiet times without panicking too much. I book a hair cut or a dental appointment- things that get neglected when it’s busy! And I agree with the comment above, if you work flat out when it’s busy you have nothing to feel guilty about when you’re sitting in the hairdresser!

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