10 Reasons to limit your availability to get more work

by Matt Rowan

Going on Holiday may result in more work:
Why not always being available is the best idea.

Preparing for a Holiday/Vacation.

I get to a point when a holiday stops being a luxury and feels like a necessity. I work hard and I am productive, but get to a point where I need to stop, step away and have a break. We all get to a point where we need to step away from the everyday work and a change in perspective and wind down is needed. 
I usually know a few months before when a holiday is needed, and book out the time in my diary so that I can then schedule projects around this, letting clients know my availability. Inevitably, on the run up to going away, usually a week before I get unusually more busy. But it was when I was doing my two week preparation with clients – informing them I will be away and will need to wrap up a project that I realised something – 

Going on Holiday may result in more work.

It seems counterproductive, a juxtaposition, but may actually be true.  Whilst contacting all current projects, and long term clients to tell them I would be unavailable, it had a knock on effect. Booking out my time on NEW projects for when I return. 
The mental jog, or nudge in the ribs to say – here is Matt, our designer. “we should get him booked in for a meeting on his return” brought me to the idea that my availability may result in more work and bookings. 
Never was this more true than when I went away for 6 months working and told clients, and I managed to pre-book 3 months of project work, meetings, and calls in my diary. Freeing up my time by knowing my schedule of work. It was amazing!
And, so, this is what this post is about. 10 Reasons why limiting your availability can mean more work. 

Going on holiday might lead to more work

1. Exclusive or Elusive?

There is an heir of mystery about your diary, your workload and your current availability, and you can use this to your advantage. Clients and customers don’t need to know how your day is scheduled, and what you have planned and this is good. It means you plan your day around how you can be best productive. This should include your annual leave, holidays and time away from working.

It may sound a little counterproductive to not be ‘available’ to clients, but not answering on the first ring of the phone, or within 2 minutes of their email mean clients learn that you are not at their beck and call. You are in demand, your time is important and you value it, as should they. Setting in place systems to limit your time on emails, call answering and scheduled meeting times and finishing all reinforce the importance of your time – both for you and the client. Schedule both for your sanity and productivity, but also for your clients. Dedicating time solely to their discussion, meeting, or work, rather than jumping from one to another.

Schedule your time

2. Always available or in high demand?

The day to day tasks of your business, can take over your day resulting in the feeling that you are busy, but not making any progress. The ability to check off the list the response to a client can feel like you have made progress, but the change in focus, may have the opposite effect. You are reacting to other people’s agendas, and not your own. Block out time in your diary for WORK, be clear with clients, and work on one thing at a time. The response can wait, so can the call unless scheduled. Customer expectations  need to be managed so you can manage your business and time effectively, and this includes your availability.

3. Planning and Productivity

  • Emails – By scheduling time for emails in your day, you have put aside a specific time to respond. Keep this within hours of work, or if outside your working day make sure to schedule the send with your email client so that they are received at a suitable time. Emails have statistically shown to take up a significant amount of time, and drain productivity within a working day. Pinpoint problematic email chains too – Could this be solved by one scheduled call, rather than a long backwards and forward email chain? Effective management of communication allows you to focus on your work and not just talk about work.
  • Phone Call meetings – In the age of Zoom, Skype, Google meet, and Microsoft meetings make sure to use your time wisely. Set not just the time of the meeting, but the schedule and the ending. Otherwise a meeting could be hours, wandering in topic and subject matter and not productive.  Agenda for a meeting is also good to pinpoint and keep to task. 
  • Pre-plan meetings – pre-plan at least a week in advance, and ask others to stick to the agreed time in the diary. Starting a week with scheduled tasks makes you know what is possible, how you can use your time wisely and means you can be prepared and focussed on them in the prescribed time. Follow meetings with an email of your notes. This qualifies your understanding of the meeting, allowing them to clarify anything, or agree with the direction from the meeting. 

plan your work like you planned your holiday

 4. Plan in advance to a holiday

In many cases before going away I have had a scheduled meeting and discussion about the work that needs to be undertaken on my return. This takes off the pressure for both the client and yourself on your return, and you have clearly defined goals and tasks set up to boost your productivity upon getting back to work.​

By planning well in advance of ​any holiday/time off you are giving yourself clear defined goals, but also giving clients a timeframe in which to work with. I contact people several weeks in advance to her being away, this gives them a chance to respond to you in time. This would be either for work before your holiday, or to set up work for when you return. 

  • Give clients a time frame, a scheduled time to respond and yourself time to do work before, or plan for when you return. 
  • This allows you to put them as a matter of importance in your diary as a consideration and shows that you value them as clients.
  • Plan up to a month in advance, have in place a list of those to contact, those to inform and build a plan of action for your return.

5. Contact potential new clients, but also old clients

Use your time wisely, and use the fact that you’re going to be unavailable as a legitimate reason to contact current and past clients to inform them. This opens up  a great opportunity to say ‘Hello!’ to potential clients, and to those you have worked with before. 
Cold emails without action can be hard to write, but emails with a purpose, to inform or with reason to contact can be more effective. You have a good reason, and you have defined a timeframe, purpose and reason and just saying Hello… 
An Example email may simply be: 
Hi Chris,
I do hope you’re well,
I’m just letting all my current and past clients know that I will be unavailable from the 20th of August until the 4th of September 2020.
If you would like to discuss any design requirements for graphic design branding identity design prior to going away please do let me alone know and we can schedule a time for a discussion before I am away. 
We have just released a new blog article on my website, and completed an interesting project and identity design which might be of interest to you.
In addition, we are currently running a fantastic deal on scheduled payment plans for new projects if this might be of interest to you please do let me know.
Look forward to hearing from you,
Matt Rowan
Craft Graphic
The sense of urgency, deadline, and use of your time effectively is a great reason to get in contact, whilst showing an interest in them as a company and that you have put them first.
The simplicity of the email, to start a potential conversation, without any expectations is a great opportunity. 

plan accordingly so as not to leave your clients in the lurch

6. Never leave anyone in the lurch. 

Obviously, with the idea of contacting your clients and informing them that you’re going away, it’s also important never to leave any client in the lurch. Leaving a project halfway through because you haven’t planned your time effectively undermine​s​ you as a ​reliable ​business and the service and solution that you provide your client. Taking on new projects and filling a diary without scheduling a suitable time to undertake the work you’re already working on his poor planning and productivity. Clients don’t return to people that schedule a holiday halfway through a project​ without notice.
  • Contact all current clients, and previous clients that you think could lead to more work
  • Plan out your diary and time.
  • By Pre-planning, informing and reminding existing clients that you won’t be available, you have given everyone suitable time to plan.
  • Schedule meetings before leaving, speak to those that require any help.
  • Plan meetings for your return 

7. Inform your networks through Social media, and newsletters and schedule your posts

If you are an active​ user of social media, use this opportunity to send out a post a simple graphic or schedule a blog post for whilst you’re away to keep interested and work accounts alive and relevant.
Depending on your type of business, social media accounts could be used for sharing your discoveries or journeys your holiday period. Social media can also be used to schedule certain posts or things of interest you found whilst away.
Otherwise posting through social calendars that allow you to schedule post while you’re away can be in an effective way to keep consistency and so scheduling some time for you to undertake this work before you leave is important.
This is just one more thing that would allow you to leave knowing you that everything is going to be effective and automated and allow you to relax. Also, think about newsletters e.g. if you are using mailchimp or similar, they have the ability to schedule posts and blogs through your CMS, and can be very effective whilst you are not there to be monitoring and in front of your computer.

8. Prepare for sign off

Setting a suitable out of office or on your emails prior to going away gives you a sense of relief that any contacts while you are away will be redirected accordingly knowing about your availability. Allowing you to relax in the knowledge that everything is not going to fall apart if you don’t look at your emails. The following is an example of a template which we use.
Thank you for contacting Craft Graphic, I’m currently unavailable until the 28th of September.
If your enquiry is urgent please contact me on the following email address, and otherwise I will endeavour to respond to your email as soon as possible on my return.
Many thanks
Matt Rowan 
Craft Graphic
The alternative email address could simply be a further email address under your account, but this filtration of your emails into important and urgent emails allows you to deal with any requests that may be needed to be dealt with on whilst you are away. This could be redirected to your personal account, or alternatively dealt with by a colleague in an emergency situation.  A similar out of office voicemail would be ideal to set up as well. This could be checked by a colleague, or simply dealt with on your return.
Don’t feel guilty, as this is your time and your work although important to you, must be compartmentalised in your life. With an out of office, phone, email all set up you can prepare to sign off.
Here are some links to some simple and effectivie Out of office email examples: 
Ready for your return

9. On your return

Picking up on productivity on your return can be difficult and knowing you have a scheduled task and events on your return with a reminder of everything ready to go soon as you step foot in front of your desk again can help to get you working quickly and effectively on your return.
Make sure you can effectively switch off during your time away by making a list of projects you are working on for your return. Write yourself an email of all your scheduled tasks that are currently undertaking that need to be picked up on your return.
You can then turn off your computer knowing that soon as you return you can open up your document and remind yourself of where you left your project work. It doesn’t need to be on your mind while you’re away and there won’t to be anything to remind yourself to do.
  • Make a list of all current work, future work and where you currently are on projects.
  • Be ready on your return date in your emails to pick up ready where you left off. 
  • Prime your productivity, and be excited to get back to work because you have recharged.

Switch off and return back refreshed

10. Go away on Holiday, free in the knowledge that your computer is closed and so are you. 

Stepping away from the computer and away from work can have a benefit to your business. Coming back to the computer with a refreshed and reinvigorated outlook on your work can make you more productive. Rather than sitting in front of the computer and not achieving anything. Sitting down with a task at hand starting and completing it is better than spending time procrastinating and dragging out work without an end in sight.
  • Try to remember you are entitled to holiday.
  • Down time is as important as work time – limit your availability.
  • Manage your time, and be productive. 
  • Allow yourself to switch off, and come back refreshed
  • Be ready to remind yourself of your work
  • Enjoy your holiday, you deserve it
Please do share your tips on winning work, productivity and how you deal with being out of the office.



About Craft Graphic

Matt is a Graphic Designer and Web Designer based in the UK. Read about him, and his design work at craftgraphic.com

We work with a wide variety of companies from start-ups through to medium and large size companies to support their branding and identity work.
Our work has included customer type places for brands which have featured in a wide variety of formats from TV & film through to packaging and print.
Creativity is key to our work, but so is understanding the real problem I understand underlies the project. Every project starts with a conversation about how we can help where you want to be as a company.


Let’s Talk

Craft Graphic
Western Rd
Lewes BN7 1RP 

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