It seems like I work all the time, including nights and weekends — but really, it just seems that way. I treasure my “off” time just like everyone else does. With a virtual business (and an office just steps from my bedroom), it can be hard to actually have a day off.
I do monitor email constantly so if something urgent comes in over the weekend, I will probably deal with it. Having said that, if a client asks for truly urgent stuff on weekends or holidays (because they didn’t plan ahead) and I have to work during off hours because of that, I’m going to bill extra for it. If I see it on Saturday or Sunday, and it can wait, I will probably respond and tell the client that I’ll do it on Monday.
Here at my house, we call this extra charge the “Stupidity Tax.” I may not charge much extra, but if I feel that the client just didn’t plan ahead, and has forced me to work when I’m not supposed to be working, they have to compensate me for it. Here’s a recent example:
A client sent me an email at midnight on Friday (that would be late at night Friday, early morning Saturday), with something that needed to be posted immediately. Well, according to him. He was appearing at a conference the following weekend, and wanted a sign-up section on his website so that conference attendees could reserve a meeting time with him, before arriving. He needed it done immediately because he wanted to send an email to a large group on — you guessed it — Saturday morning.
Knowing that this is an annual conference in his specialty field, and knowing that he surely planned far ahead to attend it, there was really no excuse for sending me an update request well after close of business Friday, with the expectation that it be done on Saturday. What if I were out of town? What if I were sick? What if I already had plans?
Now the reality is that it took me 15 minutes to do that work, but I billed him for 30 minutes. A 15-minute penalty is not a lot, under the circumstances, but it’s the equivalent of a shift bonus, or overtime compensation one might see in a more traditional work setting. If he had given me the heads-up a few days before (“Hey, I’ll be sending you something late on Friday that needs to be posted ASAP, will you be available?”), I might have been much more lenient!