Taking On More Than You Can Chew

Ever bite off more than you can chew?

Are you like me? Do you see a project and think it sounds like fun – or it sounds like something you can do easily – so you say “yes”. Do you end up with several projects running at once?

I’ve noticed that many of us in the instructional design world seem to juggle multiple projects. My personal experience with this is that no project ends up getting my full attention when I take on too much. The end result is that I’m overtaxed, I don’t have any down time at all, and my clients do not get the full benefit of my design work.

The increased billing for doing this comes at a price. You not only sacrifice your own time, but potentially your reputation. I consistently hear from clients that a certain consultant is great – when they are doing their work.  I get comments like, “When I start asking – they turn in a deliverable, but I can tell it was rushed.” or “Her deliverables are consistently late but she always has an excuse.” or “I love his work – I just don’t think he has enough time for my projects.”

To prevent this back-up of work, I block time on my calendar for the project and for upcoming personal tasks. (Parent-teacher meetings, school holiday, holiday shopping, etc.)  Once I’ve blocked the time, I can look ahead and see that I only predict 15 hours of my week remains open. If that’s the case, I can’t commit to a 20 hour per week assignment.

When you are considering taking on additional projects, pay attention to whether or not this is going to push you to the limit of your work time and whether or not your client will receive your full attention. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “no”.

Leigh Anne Lankford is an instructional designer with 20 years’ experience in the field of HRD. She is a Relationship Manager for TrainingPros in Atlanta, working closely with training and development departments of large organizations to identify, attract, and on-board contract employees for very specific and specialized training and development needs. You can reach Leigh Anne at leighanne.lankford@training-pros.com.  

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