Cafe Witness

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dropping the Ball


Evidently, there was a disconnect on a freelance job I'm currently working on. I hadn't realized the estimated date of review for the next round of video clips, which was last week, was a hard deadline. Thus, when something else was thrown into the works last week, I missed that deadline -- not realizing it was in pen, not pencil.

Normally, this wouldn't be a large issue. The matter of rubber dates vs. stone dates is forever a complication of freelance, and I've bounced on both sides of the dividing line over the years. If there's a disconnect, a phone call or email and a redoubling of the efforts usually results in a finished (or review) product that's even better than it would have been under normal circumstances. (Catholic guilt dies hard.)

But in this case, I'm not the primary contact for the client. In fact, the client is actually an intermediary as well. There are really four lines of communication involved, and if there's a disconnect in one part of the chain, it extends all the way down.

So, in this case, the best thing I can do is fix the problem without creating additional problems by circumventing the appropriate communication channels -- which is hard to do when I'm so used to working with clients directly.

The Root of the Problem

Of course, ALL of this could have been avoided with one simple action: being AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

Granted, when have I EVER been ahead of schedule on something? But, then, that's precisely the point, isn't it?

Looking back on most of my work for the past few years, I see one startling truism: nearly all of it has been produced either AT (or shortly after) the deadline. While some of this has been undoubtedly due to the complications of the clients, much of it falls squarely on my own shoulders. It's incredibly evident in Something to Be Desired, which -- as Mobasoft's Michael Bailey has mentioned -- "says it comes out on Monday but really comes out on Tuesday."

I'm swiftly becoming aware of the likely truth of an old adage -- and if it isn't old, it's still certainly valid -- that the most profound way to change one's life is to simply show up on time. For everything.

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  • I also struggle with hitting deadlines for personal projects. At work I'm always on the ball, but I think the difference is that at work everything is always needed yesterday. Where as my off work creations are when I can get to them.

    The exception to the rule in both work and non work situations is when I'm given a month to do something. You can pretty much guarantee that I'm going to flounder until I feel the pressure of the deadline approaching. Not really sure why I operate that way.

    The moral of the story if you need it yesterday it will be done tomorrow. If you need it tomorrow expect it next week.

    By Blogger Josh Sager, at 8:16 AM  

  • This may not help out much, but we all fuck up now and then.

    Just try not to do the same thing again, hopefully you can salvage this one, and if not, move on to the next one.

    In any event, be honest with all parties involved - it's hard for people to come down on you when you readily admit that it's your fault.

    They'll be sour, but owning up to it steals their thunder.

    By Anonymous Michael Bailey, at 8:24 AM  

  • Well I hope you don't loose the client. I think I saw a Woody Allen quote that went something like 70% of success is just showing up.

    By Blogger Norm, at 9:01 AM  

  • No worries. We've all been there. Just need to learn from it and as Michael said, take responsibility for it.

    I say all the time that if I show up on time, do what I say I am going to do, return phone calls/emails promptly and actually SERVE the client PROFESSIONALLY than I am already better than 90% of the competition.

    There is enough work out there for the remaining 10% of us.

    By Anonymous, at 4:58 PM  

  • I won't finish anything without a deadline. Ask Justine how many seconds early I was for the Just Ducky Tour!

    By Blogger John R. Carman, at 7:07 PM  

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