Sunday, April 14, 2013

Portland Fashion Photographer: Sanity Maintenance

I want to punch something. Maybe a punching bag. Maybe not.

I have been so slammed this winter, running 2 weeks behind on deadlines for nearly 4 months. I'm finally reaching the point where I'm only 3-4 days behind on things, but ongoing work always ads to the work load. Whew. Gotta get my head above water.

In additional to normal work-sucks- stuff, I feel like I'm attracting crazy people left and right. Not that I'm an exception to crazy, but we are talking extra cray- crazy. Let me explain.

As a free-lance business owner I understand that clear and concise communication will most often prevent fall out. I have work methods incorporated into my work flow that help to set expectations with clients from the get-go. It has worked pretty well for me so far and usually end up with a very satisfied client...

HOWEVER, what I don't know how to prevent//avoid//thwart is that drug-like appeal of drama and conflict that some people can't seem to kick. I mean, woah peeps. Let's all get off FB for a moment and remember how to act in public.
                                                                                                                                                                    (illustration credit lucca grosso)
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Sometimes I think we forget to check in with each other on a relational level and rely on emails, texts and even phone calls so exclusively that we lose the big picture perspective. I believe this happens in work relationships all too often as well, including my own. I think my clients believe I am some sort of computing device (hopefully Apple) that can work in overdrive without any kind of recharge, reboot, compensation, rest, fuel, et cetera.

It makes me want to punch someone. Or just my computer screen. I am hot-damn-frustrated, because while yes, I AM a receptionist, art director, producer, photographer, retoucher, designer, marketer and business owner at large- I am ALSO a mother, wife, friend and real-life person who needs to occasionally step AWAY from my desk at times. Or dare I say- maybe take a day off of work in order to maintain the aforementioned relationships (including mine with my sanity).

I am already a hard working, over achiever. I often work through my lunches so that I can finish reading emails at my desk and while I may peruse FB while my computer is exporting photos, I am most likely setting up a callsheet or organizing proofs.

Then I pick my daughter up from school and run errands with her, clean the house and make dinner. Once she's tucked into bed I usually work another hour or three. (Usually three.) And I do some rendition of this 6 days a week.

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And I'm happy to do so, because I love my job. I love my daughter.

I love my job up to a point, however.

It's not love I'm feeling once I get the crazy clients pouring in with guns blazing making all sorts of demands for time, resources, knowledge and product- wondering why I can't send them photos or proofs or orders more quickly and on their timeline, despite clear processing estimates and my only-human-ability to execute those.

I mean, seriously. If you pay 5.95 for ground delivery, do you expect overnight delivery?

And I don't mean that I won't accomodate a rush-order if the time is available, or that I wouldn't do a quick turn around if that's the initial expectation... I'm talking about the people who have received the estimate turn around, or know my prices, or read the quote and STILL wreak havoc nonetheless.

Besides, this isn't just about people being impatient, it's about people pouting, bullying and then manipulating as methods to get what they want.

To my dismay, clients who over-demand often get more of my attention. That whole saying "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"? Yeah. It's true. The damn squeaky wheels stress me out so badly that though I hate to admit it, yes, I will quickly bend over and oil it up so that I can get back to work in peace.

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Some of the crazies can't be quieted or made content, however, and continue to make waves. (Through emails, or social media posts or straight forward agressive behavior).  I don't know what to say about them. I guess they will always be around.

Those who don't squeak will get their products in a timely manner and be compensated for any delays on my end. Because I'm nice like that. But why the hell should the crazy, impatient, aggressive people get their way in the end?

I'm emotionally taxed. But that's old news. And besides, in addition to my exhaustion I feel like I'm ready to make some changes to my business workflow. I've got to get something set up that will help me better responde to those squeaky wheels.

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