When projects go sideways…

As a solo operator, I live and die by my calendar. EVERYTHING in my life lives in my GCal. I have all kinds of integrations, color codes and shortcuts set up so that I don’t forget anything.

99% of the time, this is a fool-proof system. It never lets me down… but there’s one situation that has been just been kicking my ass on time-management lately.

It’s a problem I never had when I was just a scrappy freelancer, hustling to get as many clients as I could — which is ironic, since I should have had way more time pressure then than I do today.

But now that I’m working with clients with MUCH bigger businesses, and taking on fewer projects, to really immerse myself in the books I do take on?

My project timelines have gone absolutely sideways.

Projects that used to take exactly three months have stretched out to four, even five months — because the more successful my clients are, the more demands they have on their time.

People running multi-million dollar businesses are, inevitably, high achievers. They’re awesome clients, don’t get me wrong, but they are also busy clients.

They are managing big teams of people, handling major strategic decisions, trying to connect with their family and make themselves available to me — but they only have so much time in the day.

So when something unpredictable happens (which actually happens pretty predictably) the timelines I’ve planned to deliver their work and start new projects get trashed.

This has meant that I’ve had to take a hard look at my own processes and work out what I can change to accomodate this.

Sure, I could demand that they stick to my schedule, because I’m entrenched in my old USP (that I’ll deliver a book for you in three months).

But one of the most important moments to notice in a business is when you’re at a fork in the road — a moment where you have a choice to take a shot at a whole new level, or where you double down and stay with what you know.

Sometimes it’s safer to stick with what’s familiar, and I’ve done that a few times.

But right now, it’s time to take that shot. I’m extending my project timelines, adapting some of the more client-intensive processes, and scheduling buffer time into each new project.

I know that changing my processes to meet the demands of bigger, better clients, will help me unlock the next stage of growth — which means I’ll be able to help even more people get their stories out into the world.

Growth opportunities often manifest themselves as problems, or even as chaos.

But if you can take a step back for a couple of days, and really listen to the message beneath the actual words people are saying to you, the opportunity will emerge.

I hope you have an excellent weekend, and that if you are facing down some chaos in your own business right now, that you have some time to examine it in search of the opportunity it’s trying to present to you.