As time has gone by, I think I’ve got better at spotting the likely trouble jobs.
In recent weeks, work has been so overwhelming that I feel like I haven’t had a day off in months, and yet I know that’s not the case. But I do know for a fact that I have almost been working constantly for at least a few weeks, which has really worn me down.
Last night I was on the verge of taking a decision to roll the dice and change my business up completely, but this morning I have once again put my cautious cap back on.
But one thing I have definitely made a wrong call on was a recent call that emerged late on Friday, which I had a feeling would be something very tricky, and has proved to be. Not before a long and excruciating saga involving unsociable hour calls, a threaded screw head that needed to be drilled out, seriously cut fingers which have been stinging for days, and the personality of the customer being far too demanding. All this when I was so close to not even taking the job. I should have trusted my inner judgement…
What has ground me down so much has been the fact that I have got myself involved in too many peripheral things, involving my not-yet-might-never-be business “partner” – which has, again, taken up stacks of my time for no return. This involves tax returns, VAT returns, self-assessment, free IT support, on and on it goes. Time that I desperately need.
Undoing bad decisions is impossible. It feels easier to just to ride with it, accept my lot that I made a mistake in the first place, and see what comes of it. Nothing has now for several years, not through want of trying, but ultimately, I am now beginning to think I should never have gone down this road.
One bad decision that I wish I could undo is the use of my house as a workplace. It is not suitable. It has driven me mad recently. I cannot escape the phone ringing. I cannot switch off. I have a clutch of customers that expect too much, around the clock, and think that I’m just bob-a-job, hobby PC advice, who doesn’t mind helping because it’s not his bread and butter.
They are so wrong it’s untrue. I dearly wish I had made more effort to make my business more professional. People assume that, as I’m working from home, and they have my mobile number, that this isn’t a serious enterprise. That they can just call me anytime because they know I’ll be there, and that they can “pick my brains” because I’m their “PC guy” or whatever vaguely friendly but often diminishing term they use.
The business has the strong smell of amateurism about it. About a guy just bumbling along making bits of cash here and there from fixing people’s PCs in his living room.
At the end of the day, they are wrong. I make good money out of what I do, and I do it because it earns me a decent living and allows me the freedom and flexibility to deal with the people I choose. That, in reality is the state I am at. I don’t have to rely on one particular person, and you don’t have any right to ring me at 8pm in the evening, or 6pm on Saturday, or any time on Sunday. Nothing in the IT world is that cripplingly urgent, I promise you. I have never come across a job that couldn’t wait until normal working hours. It really is just people being extremely inconsiderate.
The only people who could possibly have an excuse are businesses. Businesses do not phone outside of working hours. Why? Because they’re not working outside of working hours!
The facts are now simple and I need to be bolder about addressing them. I don’t need certain customers. The ones who think I am sitting here all day, every day, waiting for them to call, hoping, praying that someone will take mercy on me and throw me a few crumbs from their table. Or the ones who wrongly assume I am some sort of international corporation with staff on hand 24/7 to deal with their most minor troubles. So you lost your Hotmail icon? So you want to know my warranty terms? Do you know it’s 9pm on a Sunday? (both true stories)
Maybe people are just getting more rude? Maybe people expect far too much in modern society? We have got used to websites being online around the clock, and supermarkets open all day every day that we forget that PEOPLE are not the same as fictional corporate identities.
I know this has been a bit of an epic rant, but I needed to get it out of my system. I need more sleep, I need better sleep, I need better food, I need more time to look after myself, I need more time to enjoy myself, I need more time to have a social life. I can’t do all of that and run a business every day too.
Bad decisions of the past cause this. Bad decisions that seemed like good at the time, but on reflection set up all of this.
It has to change soon.