Sixty four.

Putting ourselves back together.

This week Frankie Tortora and Steve Folland have a chat in response to a question from Kate Nikityuk, founder of Questime. She says:

“How do you put yourself back together if all you want to do now the kids are back in school is lay down and stare out of the window?

I allowed myself a day of rest on Monday. It is already Thursday and I am still not a rock star ‘nailing it’. More like a jellyfish answering a few enquiries from clients and delegating the bare minimum to the team. 

My list of work-to-be-done-when-kids-are-back-to-school is growing, the pressure to make ends meet is terrible and in a blink of an eye it will be the Easter break with both kids back at home and juggling it all again. 

Any ideas on how to quickly come back to life?’

• • • • •

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Take note dear listener! We might swear a bit. This one’s for the parents. To be enjoyed at your desk or once the kiddos are in bed.

Here’s what was said in this episode:

Comments on the previous episode:

[00:01:41] – Frankie
Hello. You’re listening to the Doing It For The Kids podcast, where we swear a bit too much and talk a bit too fast about freelance life with kids in the mix. I’m Frankie and this is Steve.

[00:01:52] – Steve
Hello! Yes. Each episode, we take a question from the Doing It For The Kids Community, do our best to answer it, but of course, we start each episode by looking back at the last one and taking your comments. Last time we were talking about…

[00:02:04] – Frankie
It was an anonymous question about late clients.

[00:02:08] – Steve
Oh, yes!

Becky Coote got in touch. Becky says:

“I love the idea of a late payment charge. It’s only a negative consequence if they don’t do their side of the work. I also think — and I know it’s easier said than done — that you need to up the ante on your reminders. At the moment you’re bailing them out every time, so there’s no reason why they should meet the deadline. Stand up for yourself and protect your deadlines and schedule!”

[00:02:32] – Frankie
Yes, Becky. Dave Smyth says:

“Some thoughts…”

He’s got five, for the record. Dave continues:

“One. This isn’t the answer, but putting in the contract something along the lines of ‘deadlines work both ways. I agree to meet any deadlines we set and you agree to meet any deadlines we set, and provide feedback and content within X amount of time’.

Two. Remind clients that if they don’t meet their deadline, that will have an impact on meeting the overall project deadline. If they miss the deadline they’ve agreed to, you can’t promise to meet the project deadline. One impacts on the other.

Three. Consider a pause clause…”

Have you heard of this, by the way? Okay, just me.

“…A pause clause. Basically, if they miss the deadline, you’ll reschedule the work and deadlines as appropriate.

Point four. If work is project based, request all content or client deliverables before the project actually starts.

Five. If it’s not a retainer and you’re charging, say, 50% upfront and 50% on completion, consider switching to 50% upfront, 40% at agreed midway point, and 10% on completion. This helps your cash flow, but also helps to focus the client’s mind on keeping the project moving.”

[00:03:44] – Steve
Lindsay Yates has been in touch.

Lindsay says:

“Oh, I make them wait. Miss your slot? Tough titties. If it’s so urgent it can’t wait — and it very rarely is — then I charge a rush fee and explain it’s due to the fact I’ll have to work evenings and weekends to hit the deadline.”

[00:04:01] – Frankie
“Tough titties”. I like that.

And David Brimble says:

“Superb rant about non-work lateness!”

[00:04:09] – Steve
I’m glad that you found a kindred spirit in David.

[00:04:12] – Frankie
Right. I was so worried I was going to offend those people.

[00:04:14] – Steve
Yeah. Funnily enough, like the day the episode went out, there was a conversation in the Being Freelance community where somebody essentially asked a very similar question.

[00:04:22.84] – Frankie
Oh, really? Interesting.

[00:04:23] – Steve
And then people started saying about the rush fees — effectively the amount extra they charge in order to hit something if they have missed their deadline, and it was double. It was 30% more. But then they’re not going to do it again!

[00:04:41] – Frankie
Yeah, right. Exactly. That’s it.

You know, like Becky just said. What did she say… If you keep bailing them out every time, there’s no reason why they should meet the deadline.

[00:04:50] – Steve

[00:04:50] – Frankie
That’s the crux of it, isn’t it?

[00:04:52] – Steve
If you keep putting your children’s clothes away, they’re never going to put their clothes away. Right.

Our answer to this week's question:

[00:07:58] – Steve
Okay, this week’s question comes from Kate Nikityuk and her business is called Questime. They are interactive online birthdays and quests for children and adults. And the website is But Questime only has one T.

Kate asks:

“How do you put yourself back together if all you want to do now the kids are back in school is lay down and stare out of the window? I allowed myself a day of rest on Monday. It is already Thursday and I am still not a rock star nailing it, more like a jellyfish.

Answering a few inquiries from clients and delegating the bare minimum to the team. My list of work to be done when kids are back to school is growing. The pressure to make ends meet is terrible. And in a blink of an eye, it will be the Easter break with both kids back at home and juggling it all again.

Any ideas on how to quickly come back to life?

Thanks, Kate.”

OK, first up, it’s okay to feel the way you’re feeling. And it’s great that you recognise that and acknowledge it. Kind of go with it. It’s great that you have a team that you can delegate to.

[00:09:10] – Frankie
Yes, definitely.

But then that feeds into… She talks about making ends meet. If you’ve got a team, there’s presumably a financial pressure to pay those people that you wouldn’t necessarily have if you were just a sole trader. Like, that’s useful on the one hand, but also stressful on the other.

[00:09:28] – Steve
I mean, there’s kind of almost two — there’s probably more than two ways — but two ways of approaching it. One is to push on through to force yourself. Like, to give yourself a kick up the butt.

We had a great question once many, many episodes ago. ‘How do you get the motivation when you don’t have the motivation?’

When it comes to the Easter holidays — maybe just properly take some time off then. Don’t just try to juggle. Try and take some days off where you don’t touch any work, if that’s possible. So yeah, you push on through now and then you know that you’re going to be able to chill on the other side of that hill.

The other version, of course, is that you just give in to that feeling now and just do some reading or do some DIY. Like, I’ve been doing some painting. And it’s weird, I hate DIY. But at the same time, I do find it’s a really good way to switch off.

[00:10:25] – Frankie
We have another episode, if you haven’t listened to it, called ‘The Cult of Busy’ or something like that, which is about you feeling you need to at least present as being busy, if not literally be busy all the time.

[00:10:37] – Steve
‘Rock star nailing it!’

[00:10:37] – Frankie
Rock star nailing it. Exactly.

I felt like this last September when the kids went back after the second lockdown or whatever. First lockdown, even. Anyway, suddenly my social media was full of people going like, “Go team. Let’s go! Smashing it. Hustle, hustle.” And I was just like, “fucking hell, guys!” I’ve barely, like, washed my face in the last six months.

Basically. I muted a lot of people at that time. Apologies, but I did because I couldn’t cope with that narrative. I was just like, “no, I don’t buy into this at all”. But even if you don’t see it all the time from other people, there’s just been this little tick, tick, tick, tick over the last however long of, “oh, yeah, that thing — I’ll do that when the kids go back”. “Oh, yes, that I’ll get that done when the kids go back”. And you know, those are all not necessarily big things, but if you write them all down, it’s like from here to the moon.

My point is, I would try and be aware of the pressures around you and the noise around you about what you ‘should’ be doing currently. And I appreciate there is a financial pressure here as well, which she touches on. But I bet there are at least three things on your list that you don’t actually have to do right now.

[00:11:50] – Steve
Yeah, what you just said about not everything on the list being important right now, I think that’s a good idea to look at your list. People always tell you to put them in that grid and important vital lessons and all that stuff. But basically, what do you really need to get done right now? What on that list is actually stuff that you can just put on a different list and come back to it when you’re feeling like getting to other stuff?

I have like a Kanban board type thing within my Notion — so like a Trello board type thing. And normally I have lined up ‘doing’ and ‘done’ — simple as that. But I’ve noticed I have a hell of a lot of stuff I’m ‘doing’, I can’t possibly be doing it all. I almost need like a, ‘should be doing’.

Yes, I need to park some of that stuff, but because every time I open that list I see it and I feel pressure because I’m not working my way through all of that stuff. I can’t do all of it.

[00:12:57] – Frankie
You’re so right about looking at that list and feeling like a failure. That’s such a persistent way of feeling, I think, when you work for yourself, when you have kids and stuff because I don’t know… I feel like there’s a lot of misrepresentation of like, how much we can get done or should be getting done.

Yeah, I just relate really hard to that feeling of like… without even starting your day, just opening that list makes you feel like shit. But that’s not right, is it? I’ve got a Trello board that has all the things, but in reality — and I don’t know if this is the best approach — but I’ve got a note on my phone that I kind of update daily when I’m thinking to the next day. I’m like, “what do I actually have to do tomorrow?” And that’s usually four or five things and to me, it’s very satisfying to tick them off every day.

And I’m aware of the other things. I know they’re there, they’re logged in another place that I can always refer back to and update and blah blah. But just having that smaller list is great. Also because I can look at it really easily on my phone when I’m doing other stuff or putting Bluey on, again.

[00:14:02] – Steve
One thing that I know we’ve spoken about before is having that list that Holly June-Smith got me into doing, where every single month I list on a spreadsheet the things that I’ve achieved that month. Because it’s all too easy just to shift onto the next thing without seeing the wins, but actually seeing the wins… or like, when we’ve talked before about saving the nice comments and the nice feedback and testimonials and whatever, like… if you don’t save those things and look at those things, then it’s all too easy just to concentrate on the negative. So if you’re talking about coming back to life, looking at everything that you’ve…

[00:14:35] – Frankie
…that you’ve achieved! Exactly.

Everything that you’ve have achieved, despite a pandemic! Like, has anyone actually sat down and gone, “yeah, I’ve been struggling and, yeah, it’s been hard”, but have they actually made a list of the things they have managed to do, despite everything else?

I bet if she sat down and looked at what she has done for her business or not in her business, I bet she’d be amazed by the stuff she has done already, despite the madness. Yes!

[00:15:04] – Steve
Kate, maybe you’re looking at the wrong list. Maybe you need to look at the stuff that was done despite the kids not going back to school list.

[00:15:09] – Frankie
Yeah, absolutely!

[00:15:13] – Steve
So any other ideas on how quickly to come back to life?

[00:15:17] – Frankie
If you’re talking about productivity-wise, then there are various things we talked about before that you might want to do, like get a buddy or a co mentor or somebody else to chat to you on the daily. Particularly at the moment, because we’re not seeing people a lot in everyday life. Like, have somebody else that’s in a similar situation to you.

[00:15:33] – Steve
Yeah, that’s a good idea actually, because it’s separate from your team. You know, I know you’re delegating, but to have somebody just to keep you ticking over. Yes, I like that.

[00:15:44] – Frankie
Even if that person is like, “go to bed!” But to have somebody else to kind of, ‘check in’ with I suppose. Yeah. And the obvious one, I guess, in terms of coming back to life is rest, recuperating, recharging.

[00:15:58] – Steve
And that’s it is that, you know, Kate, you allowed yourself a day of rest on Monday and then you were like… — and I’m not I’m not criticizing, I’m sure many of us didn’t even give ourselves a Monday — but we’ve been through a lot and maybe a day just wasn’t enough?

[00:16:16] – Frankie
I also think — a bit like each of the other lockdowns that have happened — there’s always an opportunity to change things in your business as well. Is shifting things up or making things a bit different, is that a way to motivate you and keep it fresh and exciting and bring you back to life? If you have a slightly different way of running your business or how it works behind the scenes… whether there’s things you want to tweak in your offer and your product, or maybe it would motivate you to have the new shiny thing.

[00:16:45] – Steve
Oh, I see. So to maybe pick something on the to-do list which makes a certain difference to your mentality, brings you back to life in that sense, yes.

[00:16:54] – Frankie
It makes you excited about your business again. That might not work for everybody because it might just be more stress to do something new.

[00:16:58] – Steve
Yeah, totally. Because a lot of this we’ve been saying, “put things on the back burner”, haven’t we? But you’re right. For example, I’ve seen some people who have finally launched a website that they’ve been working on or a mailing list or whatever — and not saying that you have to do those things — but that kind of launch, that energy can remotivate you. So maybe there’s something on that list which will make substantial enough difference to bring you back to life? Yeah, it doesn’t work for everybody, but it is actually a good… yeah, I like that.

[00:17:27] – Frankie
I think I said this at the end of the last lockdown. It’s just so easy to just get caught up in going onto the next thing, onto the next thing… But I think so much about this — particularly right now, because it’s the year anniversary of the first lockdown and whatever… Yes, let’s all keep moving forward, but let’s also heal.

To sound a bit cheesy… but it’s been rough and I just don’t think it’s realistic to just keep chugging on as though things are normal because again, they’re not normal yet anyway. And yeah, we’ve done a lot of things already — and I do mean beyond work as well, capitalist society and all that — but we’ve achieved a lot of stuff that we weren’t paid for in the last year and that doesn’t mean it’s not ‘working’. It’s not worth acknowledging.

What would your advice be?

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