Do You Need To Be Available 24/7?

Do You Need To Be Available 24/7?

By Rich Steve Beck

As an audio engineer running your own business, there's always that feeling you should be available anytime a client might call. After all, the industry never sleeps, and projects can have those "all hands on deck" moments. But is 24/7 availability sustainable or even necessary?

The Illusion of Urgency

Sure, some situations truly demand immediate attention. But often, clients create self-imposed urgency due to poor project planning or unrealistic expectations. It's easy to fall into a trap of always being "on-call," sacrificing your personal life for the sake of perceived client needs.

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The Downside of Constant Availability

  • Burnout: Always being available is a recipe for burnout. Work-life balance suffers, and your passion can dwindle.
  • Decreased Productivity: Ironically, trying to be always available can make you LESS productive due to mental exhaustion and the inability to focus.
  • Resentment: Feeling obligated to be available at any moment can breed resentment toward clients, damaging relationships.
  • Diminished Value: Clients may begin to assume your time is less valuable, leading to unreasonable requests and a lack of respect for your boundaries.

Setting Healthy Boundaries

So how do you balance client expectations with your need for rest and sanity? Here's how to find a middle ground:

  • Clear Communication: Set office hours prominently on your website and in your contracts. Communicate expectations for response times during and outside these hours.
  • Emergency Protocols: Have a clear policy for what constitutes a genuine emergency (e.g., project-threatening technical issues) that warrants an immediate response.
  • Mindset Shift: Clients often mirror our own behavior. Stop answering emails at midnight, and they may start respecting your time.
  • Technology as Your Friend: Utilize auto-response emails, scheduling apps, and tools to manage client communication even when you're offline.
  • Outsource When Needed: For times when 24/7 availability is essential, consider partnering with another engineer or outsourcing specific tasks.

The Bottom Line

Striving to be always available is a recipe for dissatisfaction and, ultimately, poor work. By setting boundaries and communicating clearly with clients, you can maintain a sustainable business model AND protect your well-being. Don't be afraid to unplug – your work will actually benefit from the rest and recharge time.

Discussion: Do you struggle with 24/7 availability? What steps have you taken to prioritize your work-life balance?

Rich Steve Beck is the creator and owner of Produce Mix Fix Conquer/We Are PMFC and PMFC Atlas. As well as being a Mastering Engineer, Blogger, Podcast Interviewer and Community Leader, Rich has 20 years + experience in finance, insurance, account management and online marketing. This will be a regular series supporting new up and coming audio engineers and producers as well as hopefully throwing around some fresh ideas to industry veterans to help assist sustainability. Cherry pick what is helpful, leave behind what you don't need. Good luck on your audio adventures! 

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