THIS came across my path today – it is an article on the importance of doing what you say you are going to do and not over-committing yourself. As a self-employed person, I am the only person governing my work schedule – so if I screw up or slack off, I am the one that is accountable. It can be a tricky balance. It hits home because I have been VERY guilty of over committing myself, and/or not managing my time well (as most creative people are) – then having to pull a few sleep deprived nights/weeks in order to catch up. However, I have never been over 2 weeks on a deadline (that I am aware of) let alone a month or two. But I am not making excuses. I am addressing this because I feel I am currently receiving payback for all my years of overcommitment, procrastination, and tardiness: I “ordered” a driftwood coffee table from a crafts person over three months ago, under the pretense that it would only take 3-4 weeks. I paid a 50% deposit, and was very patient for the first two months. Every week since I have asked the “status” and get the same answer if different form, “It is almost ready.” Another month came and went by and it is still “almost ready.” I have really tried to be patient with these people and I sort of feel guilty for even asking where the thing is – since I know I have been guilty of this slackassery behavior in one form or another (Although I hope I have never been this bad.) But at this point I have a deadline that needs to me met – one that I did not think I even need to bring up in the beginning, because it was supposed to be completed over two months ago. At this point I could have scavenged the whole beaches of Florida and made my own damn table.
I find that most people are good people and honesty is the best policy. Find yourself over-committed? Be honest with yourself and your clients. Disappointing the customer is never acceptable. And suck it up and right a wrong, no matter how painful it is ($)
A key rule to ALWAYS live by in business: Under-promise and over-deliver. No one ever got ahead by being late, breaking promises, or meeting expectations. People get ahead by exceeding expectations.
- Be early for your appointments. If you are late it states you are flakey, and/or unprofessional, and/or full of excuses, and do not value the other persons time. It is harsh, but true.
- If you have a job or commission and think it will take you four weeks, tell them eight weeks. When they get it early, they will think you are a creative God!
- If you need to give a quote or proposal, tell your client you will have it to them by end of the week. Then get it to them the next day.
Your exceptional professionalism will separate you from the pack.
Deadlines are an important part of the artistic process. They keep you on task and balanced. I may have subscribed to another theory when I was naive and right out of college – unaware, and unconcerned with the business side of the arts. But just because I am a creative person, I don’t want to be lumped in the “Flakey, unprofessional, arrogant, always late” category. What is wrong with being both a great artist and professional business person? Again, it is also in time management, and being honest with yourself. Especially in the economy: There are 10 other artists waiting in line to be me and snatch up the opportunities I have been given if I don’t follow through.
Here are Ten ways to exceed expectations by Art marketing guru Alyson Stanfield.
So in light of this whole ordeal (and article) I have now added “I do not overcommit myself. I finish things that I begin, and in a timely, professional manner” – to my affirmations list.