A few days ago, I read somewhere I can no longer find that the average person can’t efficiently manage more than three open projects. To be honest, I was very surprised by this number; I really thought it would be more than that. Most people I know who freelance seem to carry more than that at once, although I haven’t really done an official poll or anything.
However, this piece of information did encourage me to get more organised about an overview of the projects I am juggling, and so I went out in search of some project management systems because Post It Notes are just not cutting it anymore. I looked at Basecamp and Project Place but ultimately settled on Walter Wynn‘s suggestion of Teamwork. (Everyone uses Basecamp, and while I’m sure there’s a reason for that and it is jolly nice, I like to throw money out of the mainstream every now and then.)
So far I am delighted with Teamwork; it’s really easy to use, it has everything I want, and when I sent in a suggestion about how they could improve their conversions from their Features Tour, I got back a very nice and responsive email right away. The later discovery that Teamwork is based right here in Cork, meaning I can go round and break their kneecaps if they go out of business and take all my projects with them, was just a nice bonus on top of a great product.
I started entering all my projects, and nobody was more surprised than me to find out that I currently have no less than 15 open gigs going. Except possibly the two clients who I had forgotten about entirely, which if nothing else points out how very, very badly I need to plug into a project management system. Also how much I need to apologise to them, pull my finger out, and deeply discount their invoices.
Even before today’s headcount and dropped client fiasco though, I had begun to grasp that this workload isn’t particularly sustainable. I mean sure, you can survive on four hours of sleep per night for a week or so, but after that you really can’t remember anything, let alone produce anything. Sleep: it does a body good.
So for the past few weeks I have been working with two entirely fabulous people I am incredibly lucky to know. I am still doing 100% of the design work, but a lot of the actual CSS and XHTMLing has gone out to my new CSS Overlord Guillermo Moreno, who quite frankly kicks ass all over town. He’s going to be a superstar when he grows up. (At this point, however, I still worry about keeping him up past his bedtime.)
My very talented friend Katherine Nolan has also been doing the heavy lifting on the e-commerce side of things. We actually met on a forum for our favourite shopping cart software almost 10 years ago, but at this point, I’m about 5 versions behind and she is much better equipped to
hack sort out the cart system than I am. (She also happens to be the world’s leading expert on Coranto, which can be very handy.)
So hopefully in the next week or two, things will calm down here and some of the decks will be cleared. It is frankly very hard for me to to let go of any part of what I do because I am a complete and total control freak when it comes to work, but I couldn’t have put any of this stuff in safer hands and I’m really pleased with the work that’s come out of these projects.
So there you go: no woman is an island, and 15 projects is too many. Who knew?