Rolling Back Your Business When You’ve Overbooked Yourself

How to handle being overbooked professionallyIt’s all too easy to find yourself in the position of overbooking yourself. In fact, I speak from personal experience because I have done this numerous times. If you find that you’ve taken on too many clients, too many projects, or simply have a personal issue that is emerging up from the woodwork and putting you under stress, how you choose to react could impact you both professionally and personally.

First Steps on Handling Being Overbooked

If you believe that you are overwhelmed, the first thing I encourage you to do is to send out a lifeline and ask your current clients for help. Reach out to those clients who are most likely to be amenable to an extension on the project. They may be willing to cut you some slack and give you a couple of extra days to get caught up.

Many people are extremely understanding if you are going through family challenges or not feeling well and in fact, many would prefer that you do not work on their projects during this time when you may not be the sharpest tool in the shed and instead focus on other concerns.

Prepare to Avoid this Problem Down the Road

Another thing to consider as you look for immediate opportunities to minimize your exposure to stress is to see how you can avoid this situation in the future. Most individuals who are facing business overwhelm or find themselves overbooked with clients are doing so because they are in a service industry or a product-based business that revolves around ‘feast or famine’.

For product-based businesses, for example, the holidays are a particularly busy time as people are looking for gifts for their loved ones. Freelancers, on the other hand, tend to experience busy periods in the early fall and in the late spring. Understanding these ebbs and flows can allow you to either book in more hours to work on these additional projects and take time off throughout the rest of the year, or to consider whether you want a more streamlined client load spread across the rest of the year that doesn’t allow you to ever get overbooked.

Why Being Overbooked is Detrimental to Your Business

When you’re overbooked, you’re simply not functioning at your highest capacity and you may even find yourself unhappy with your business overall. Doing everything you can do to consider eliminating these roadblocks can go a long way towards giving you peace of mind and making you feel more positive about your business again. Getting overbooked is something that happens to everyone but what you do have an opportunity to handle on your own, is how you respond to it.

Being upfront with your clients and clarifying that it might take you some extra time to respond to emails or tackle that new project, is a great way to articulate your needs. Another thing I strongly recommend doing, if you find yourself overbooked, is to put a notice to all potential new clients that you are not accepting anyone else’s work until a certain date.

Giving yourself a couple of weeks to get caught up can give you the chance to plough through the work immediately in front of you and combat the overwhelm you’re currently experiencing. Being overbooked is not something you should strive to do on a regular basis. Sometimes it is unavoidable because you simply could not anticipate that three of your dream clients will want to hire you this month.

Giving those clients realistic expectations about how often they can expect to hear from you and the turnaround they can envision in their projects is your job. Getting overbooked can be handled and avoided by knowing your own personal limits and giving clients better expectations.

Laura Pennington

Laura Pennington burned out teaching 7th grade in Baltimore City and realized that traditional education was not for her in the midst of pursuing her PhD in public policy. She launched a freelance writing and virtual assistant career that allows her to work from home on her own time, teaching others how to build at-home businesses and providing content and strategy for major companies like Microsoft. She is a soon-to-be military spouse who has moved four times in seven years with her Navy man. She is a former competitive tap dancer and enjoys spending time with her cats and reading books like a good nerd should.

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