episode 26

Project Timelines: Are You Feeling Rushed?

Are you giving yourself enough time to do projects in your web design and development business? Short project timelines can easily stress you out. Give yourself and your clients some grace (and time) to give the best to the project.

Today Sam & Karyn discuss the importance of having a clear project timelines and how to stop feeling rushed in your web design and development projects.

Show Notes:

Some reasons you might feel the need to rush a project and how to reframe that mindset
What actually happens when you don’t give yourself enough time for a project
How to set client expectations and clearly communicate what all is involved to get a project done
Red flags to look for during the sales call that will also help you work with clients that understand the value of what you deliver

Episode Transcript:

Karyn Paige, Sam Munoz

Sam Munoz 00:00
I think it’s our job as the experts in the service providers to be realistic with our clients about what can actually happen, because it does feel bad to miss a deadline. Even if it’s not your fault, then you’re going to feel frustration towards them and bitterness, because you’re going to say, Well, if they would have just given me their stuff on time, we wouldn’t have had this issue. But what if you knowing full well that they were not going to be able to deliver in that amount of time, gave them more time right off the bat. And because you’re giving them more of your time, naturally, I think it’s realistic in your brain to say maybe I should also charge more for that because they’re getting more of my time. Welcome to making website magic where we empower women to step boldly into their web design, businesses follow their intuition and claim the success they’re worthy of. I’m Sam Munoz.

Karyn Paige 00:50
And I’m Karen page, where the tech wizards behind Sam Munoz consulting on the making website Magic School of Business. were two women here to talk about what it actually takes to run a web design business that’s aligned with your vision.

Sam Munoz 01:02
Spoiler alert, it probably isn’t what you think it is ready to hear about everything from refining your business vision, networking with intention and creating a magical client experience. Let’s do it. How are you doing on this beautiful Tuesday?

Karyn Paige 01:19
I’m doing really well. This is another podcast recording where I’m super excited to get started. Because I turns out I feel really passionately about this topic. So I’m fired up and ready to go.

Sam Munoz 01:31
Yeah, me too. And I think it’s going to be really awesome because I think there will be tons of strategic takeaways from this episode, things that you can go and implement like today. And the topic for today is about project timelines. Are you feeling rushed? And another way to say that is are you giving yourself enough time to do projects in your web design and development business? And this is an insanely huge topic because this comes up all the time for people that we talk to, for people in our mentorship. It’s come up for us in our own business and just like reevaluating, like, are we giving ourselves enough time to do these projects because let’s just put it out there. If the answer is no to that question, I bet you anything you are feeling stressed out, you are feeling overworked, you are feeling exhausted all of those things that we talked about in that burnout episode previously you might be feeling all of those things so why are we talking about this episode today?

Karyn Paige 02:29
Because this is a real thing we’re talking about project timelines and feeling rushed because it’s literally happening I can guarantee you that someone listening to this right now is feeling frustrated is feeling anxious is feeling like they’re not making enough money. Whenever I’m having conversations inside the mentorship about this the first thing that always comes up is how long do you give yourself to complete a project

Sam Munoz 02:55
right because if you are feeling like your projects are going over deadline if you’re feeling like you’re not making enough money in your business, if you’re feeling really stressed out trying to meet deadlines, if you have even set one which like is an actual conversation that we should have in another episode about like the value of setting deadlines in the first place, but if you’re feeling all of those things, it’s probably an issue around the amount of time that you’re giving yourself to do the project in the first place. So being very specific, cutting the jargon as we like to do when we were saying like a project timeline, we mean like how long when you send a proposal to a client and you say the project is going to take four weeks? Like what is that timeframe that you’re giving yourself? Are you giving yourself a timeframe? And if you are how long is that timeframe? Is it super short? Is it what I used to do in the business which I can totally share from experience as an example back in January of 2018 I was like yeah, I can finish your website in seven days. Yes, I did it now there was a couple outcomes of that which I think we can talk about in terms of like what happens when you don’t give yourself enough time later on but yeah, I was stressed yeah my work wasn’t as great as I think it could have been and also like that was a lot of work. That was like stacking stacking stacking but it was coming down in terms of why was I doing that I was feeling like I needed to make more money and in my brain my brain was telling me Sam in order to make more money you need to book more projects and you need to book them now. And the truth is that is not the case you do not have to do that. But that is one of the reasons that we tend to not give ourselves enough time is because we think in order to make more money we need to book more projects that are all going to start tomorrow that’s the thing right it’s like everybody’s like we could start your project tomorrow and yeah, that’s that’s another that’s another thing. Yeah, so

Karyn Paige 04:43
so much is coming up for me when you just shared all that and I guess what I really would love the takeaway for this conversation to be as well as like, there’s another way to do this, y’all. Let’s think outside the box. Let’s think about how we can shift the length of our time. timelines and even how we see project timelines, how we feel about them, so that we aren’t feeling as frustrated, we aren’t feeling anxious, we are making more money. Because if you’re like resonating with what Sam has said so far, let’s just point out that that doesn’t sound like fun, doesn’t sound like feels good and doesn’t sound like it’s sustainable as a business practice, right? Like constantly like going, going, going, rushing, rushing, rushing, it’s like constantly running a sprint and never taking the time to like, break or slow your pace that I’m like, let’s just start throwing out options and ideas. So maybe people listening, feel less frustrated, anxious?

Sam Munoz 05:40
Absolutely. I do think that it’s important to say that not only are we probably feeling like we have to shorten timelines, because of money, like we think that that’s connected to how much money we can make. But I think it’s also that we forget how long things actually take, and all of the other aspects of running a business that have to happen, your client having to give you stuff, there’s so many reasons why we don’t give ourselves enough time in the first place. And that just sets us up for feeling all of those things, not necessarily setting us up for failure, but setting us up for a world of stress and heartache and frustration. And so what actually happened, like what are the outcomes of not giving yourself enough time, I think that the biggest thing in this is going to be like a through line for all of these other things that happen is that feeling of just frustration and anxiety and stress about deadlines. I mean, raise your hand, if you have ever felt over committed or felt like I actually don’t know if I can finish this in time and like you’ve gone to bed stressing out. And because you’re stressed out, you don’t get any sleep, but you have to wake up in the morning and start working and you’re like laying in bed like should I get up and go work on this project a little bit? And maybe sometimes you do that is what can happen when we don’t give ourselves enough time. We feel like we have to constantly work or we feel like we are going to miss the deadline.

Karyn Paige 07:02
Yes. And I always hear that. And I’m like, but let’s be real, is it really that you are incapable of delivering? Or is it that there’s been a breakdown in the project process and the management so that you actually literally don’t have as much time as you thought you had. It’s possible that the reason why you’re feeling rushed to deliver the design and the development and the deployment of your website is because there’s been some scope creep, and the client wasn’t able to give you their content in a timely fashion. And so that cut into the time that you had allotted for yourself to actually design and build the site.

Sam Munoz 07:43
The thing that is really interesting about that is that that’s something that we hear a lot is like people saying, the client didn’t give me the content in time, I didn’t get their photos in time, I didn’t get their branding and time, which like, again, I’m raising my hand, Karen, like you can raise your hand too, because we’ve been there. But the thing is, that’s an avoidable situation, right? Because you can create better systems for your clients to give you things and more importantly, like the easiest thing you can do is you can give everyone more time to actually gather those things together. Have you ever sat down in your business and tried to pull together photos, and copy and graphics and logos and colors, that takes a lot of time. And so thinking less about like hating my clients for being so slow, having a little bit of empathy and understanding, it actually does take a long time, especially if they’re creating something from scratch, or it’s like a new website, or a brand new brand or a brand new vision, writing copy, and pulling together images and all of those things, it actually does take a substantial amount of time for your client to do that work. And so if you’re not giving them enough time, yeah, you’re not going to get what you need and time, which of course is going to push back when you’re able to get your work done, and is going to be butting up against that deadline. So you will naturally feel that stress and anxiety.

Karyn Paige 08:56
Yes, I’ll ask you how long does it take for you to like, build a website? Like how long is you know, you say you want like one client a month? Okay, there’s four weeks in a month. Does that mean that the content phase, the design and dev is and like the deployment, like launch phase is all happening in four weeks? There’s some questions. There’s some things that are not in place, right? Because I’m like, sometimes it takes the client four weeks just to gather their content. I need to know more specifics when it’s like the project takes four weeks. Because again, that ties into the idea of like, how much money you want to make. Let’s throw out a number of pupils say something like you know, I would love to make $5,000 a month. So that means I need one client or I need two clients a month and I’m like, Are you starting and finishing full web design projects in a month? How and everything’s coming in on time, like your clients are giving you the content on time and you’re designing and developing and launching the thing. All of that is happening in four weeks. Please tell me how because I don’t know and then The question is like, when are you sleeping? How many hours a day are you working, if that’s the case, so there’s a lot of like, other little layers just beneath that, which it’s like, please press pause, and explain this to me. Because when I don’t understand how you’re doing it, because I don’t understand how your clients can get you that stuff. And that’s

Sam Munoz 10:22
like, you’re starting the project off with a not so great and efficient and client experience, because then all of a sudden, there’s so much pressure on your client to give you things so quickly so that they don’t delay the project, I feel that there is a general anger and frustration towards clients not giving things on time. And I understand that, and I’ve felt that feeling as well. But I also think that we have to think of the perspective of the box that we’re putting our clients in by saying, it’s a four week project, I honestly think that when we just say, you know what, I’m going to add two weeks to that, or I’m going to add four weeks to that you let the client know like this is in your best interest to give you time to get what you need. Why would someone get upset by that. And I think it’s our job as the experts in the service providers to be realistic with our clients about what can actually happen, because it does feel bad to miss a deadline. Even if it’s not your fault, then you’re going to feel frustration towards them and bitterness, because you’re going to say, Well, if they would have just given me their stuff on time, we wouldn’t have had this issue. But what if you knowing full well that they were not going to be able to deliver in that amount of time, gave them more time right off the bat. And because you’re giving them more of your time, naturally, I think it’s realistic in your brain to say maybe I should also charge more for that, because they’re getting more of my time I’m organizing things for them better. I mean, there’s so much value wrapped up into all of the things that you do. You’re not just designing the website, you’re also managing the project and you’re pulling in their content, and you’re going through it all like there’s so much that you’re doing so like, you could probably already raise your rate anyway. But if you’re extending your timeline, certainly it makes sense in your brain to also increase your rate. So that whole idea of like, I feel like I have to book more projects to make more money is myth busted right there. You don’t have to book more to make more.

Karyn Paige 12:18
Yeah. So what I’m hearing there, too, is a lot around like client expectations, and actually clearly communicating what all is involved in the project in order to get it to launch, right? It’s totally possible that there’s some communication breakdowns happening. So the first thing is like, if you’re saying yes, it takes four weeks to do the project. Is that from onboarding to offboarding? Or is that just how long it takes you to design and dev something, because if that’s what is being communicated, then it’s not clear that there’s this whole other phase where the client is responsible for gathering content, so then the client might be getting frustrated, because it’s like, well, you told me it was only going to take four weeks, but I can’t launch my website, we’re launching it three months out when I thought it would be one month out, because you didn’t tell me that there’s all this other homework that I had to do. So that might be a thing. The other thing is like literally, the client is fully unaware of what actually is involved in building a website, right? I’m gonna paint a picture for you. So I had an inquiry, someone who came to me and was like, I have an existing website, I hate everything about it. I paid you know, one of those like, kind of like Fiverr style type of organizations to build me this website. When I took a look at the website, I was like, This looks like a fake website. The person said that there was content on there that wasn’t even relevant to their business, like services, they didn’t offer the stock photos were all wrong, like the branding was all wrong. Everything was just needed a complete overhaul. And so I told her, okay, this project would probably take about 12 weeks to complete, and it’s going to cost about four figures. And she was, like, upset like she was like, exasperated, like, what? They were able to do it for me in two weeks. And isn’t I said, Well, first of all, they did it for you in two weeks. But it looks like trash, you don’t like it, you don’t want to share it, it isn’t even accurate to your business. So you get what you pay for. And three, I don’t want to turn around a full complete redesign in two weeks that might be cool over there where they’re paying sweatshop labor prices. But over in the work that I do, I want to take my time to make sure that I can design something that you’re actually going to love and not going to want to like fully rehaul because it’s not helping your business. So it was like educating this person. And that’s literally what I said and then I was like we’re not a good fit. Thank you so much for your time, right?

Sam Munoz 14:42
Karen that’s so big. That’s another level.

Karyn Paige 14:46
She was already letting me know up top like she wasn’t interested in the value in the customization in the bespoke experience. She wanted like some fast food stuff and wanted to pay fast food prices for it. And I was Like you’re gonna hate it and I just I don’t do that work, I’m just not aligned with it at all, not the right person for you.

Sam Munoz 15:06
Well, this is the same example that you gave, I think it was two episodes ago about like, not wanting like a McDonald’s burger and wanting to like, Wait 45 minutes for a delicious like gourmet burger that Yeah, you’ll pay more for because it’s a better experience, thank you for drawing that line, because that’s why the increased prices also make sense because you’re delivering a higher quality product, because you actually have time and space to do that. You literally cannot build a website that is I don’t want to like go too far into like the whole VIP day thing. But I have some thoughts and feelings around like delivering a high quality website one day. And I do think that good things take time.

Karyn Paige 15:45
Yes. The other piece of that story is I was like, the reason why it’s also going to take 12 weeks is because you’re leaving behind everything on your site, you have no logo, you have no photos, you have no copy, you need to think of the strategy behind your site, you don’t you don’t have that, like you basically are throwing away the site you have and starting from scratch. So it’s going to take you time to gather all that stuff. And I’m telling you from experience, clients need time to do that. And it will take you at least four weeks. That’s why the project takes as long as it takes because you got to do some homework to it’s not just me. And so that’s the other thing about let’s not dig too deeply into the VIP day thing. But VIP days, never just take one day, because there’s onboarding, there’s onboarding, there’s admin, there’s strategy calls, and then there’s content, there’s always these things,

Sam Munoz 16:31
which I think actually kind of leads into another point. And another aspect of all of this is that, let’s say you really can build a website in two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, that is not making space for when challenges arise. And it happens things like not being able to style a button the way you want it to images, loading funny plugin, you know, having a conflict, this one comes up so much, not being able to log into a domain registrar, because your client has like two factor authentication on it and thinking like, oh, we’re gonna launch this website in two days, and you literally like can’t because your clients not available and you can’t get into do the DNS settings, complications and challenges arise, and you have to make buffer time for that. Because if you don’t, heck yeah, it’s gonna be frustrating.

Karyn Paige 17:21
When I tell you the amount of times that I have been like, let me just do some work real quick on like a Saturday morning and like, get the infrastructure of the website set up. And then the client is like texting me the verification, because there’s two factor authentication. And I’m like, You’re not even supposed to see that. First of all, I shouldn’t even be working on a Saturday morning. Second of all, I’m sorry for interrupting your Saturday morning. And this is just a sign that I should wait until Monday. Like that’s literally happened to me, right. So again, the things that you’re saying, like there’s always something that’s going to come up, you may be like, I built websites before I’ve got this, but there will always be something that is going to throw a wrench in the works, whether it’s on the design side, or the dev side, or the content face side, let’s bring it back to again, like the clients, right, and the expectations that they have, if you’re working with a client that is starting from scratch, not only do they not have the assets, so then they have to figure that out. There also could be a piece in there where they are procrastinating or coming up against their own mindset blocks about what’s required. And so they’re having difficulties coming up with their copy, because they’ve never written an about page before. Or they’re having difficulties delivering brand photos, because they’ve never been a model before. And they don’t know how to tell a story through like brand photography narratives. They also have to book a photographer and figure these things out, like I’m speaking from experience on a project that I had where it was supposed to take, like three months, and it ended up taking six months because the client had to stop in the middle of the project, get their stuff together. It was also during the holidays, she was also moving like there’s life, how about that life gets in the way. And sometimes we have to create buffers for that life happens,

Sam Munoz 19:09
where life happens, right? Not necessarily getting in a way. But it also it is happening at the same time. And if we’re not also considering the fact that we also have lives that we’re trying to live to, then you might end up booking all of these projects and like having all these timelines that are not realistic. And then that’s starting to take time away from the things that actually matter in your life. And then you’re having to fit all this work into less time. Like it’s just it’s so much instead of giving yourself the time that you need so that you can actually log off when you want to all of a sudden you are not accounting for those content issues and you’re not accounting for these little technical glitches and you’re having to like stress and fit it in. Obviously like there’s more to a project process and timeline than just the time frame. But this is something that is easily controllable and I I kind of want to go back to the idea of the, like the selling portion where, you know, you gave the example of that client who was like, No, I want it done. Now, the immediacy to me is always a red flag. If the client is like, I need to launch my site tomorrow, I’m like, we’re not a good fit, because then that means that you don’t understand how much work is involved in what I’m doing. And therefore when I tell you that it’s going to be $10,000, you’re going to be like, why? If it’s, if you can get it done tomorrow, why would I pay $10,000? That’s because it’s not going to be done tomorrow. And that’s because we deliver a high quality experience. It’s not just the website, we’re doing all sorts of other things, connecting your stuff together, giving you strategy, helping you call your photos, I mean, raise your hand, how many times have it has a client, given you 500 photos for their website, you have to go through that that is your time. That’s your expertise, that’s your expert lens, picking and choosing the photos like there is so much that goes into what we do, I think we created an Instagram graphic, which maybe we can link here. But like it’s like all the other things that you do outside of just designing the website that’s involved, and has to be included in that timeframe. And so when a client is like, I want it tomorrow, they are not going to be the type of client that understands the true depth you will go into in their project and why it is going to be a four or five figure investment for them. The immediacy is always scary to me, because it’s always one way, it’s always one sided. It’s like I want you to finish it now. But I’m going to take three months, three weeks to give you might content, even though you needed it yesterday, that’s a red flag. So be really mindful of that. And again, when you stick to timeframes, and when you actually create timeframes that are realistic, you will be able to easily identify those red flags. Yes, it

Karyn Paige 21:45
reminds me of many as Dr. Maya Angelou had that famous quote, where it’s like when somebody shows you who they are, believe them. Like if they’re giving you all that urgency and immediacy upfront on the Discovery call, that is just a taste of what you’re going to experience in the project. And like you said, it’s going to be one way urgency, there’s never going to be a space where you’re allowed to be urgent towards them and rush them, right. Oh, wow. And again, like what you’re saying about the value of what you’re delivering, right, it makes me think of the things that I started creating, to make sure that projects would stay on schedule, right? Like I started creating prompts for people to write their own copy, like this is the kind of stuff that I need from you like even giving examples, or I started creating brand photo shoot guys like this is these are the kind of photos that I need you to take. So give this to your photographer, you know, like all of this stuff, like really again, like strategic thought work, workbook style stuff to make it easier for the clients to deliver their content. That right there already is like increasing the price, managing the project, increasing the experience, guiding them, like through strategy that already can make sense for their business. And sometimes that stuff would have to be customized depending on the client. So it’s not like I just have this one, like cookie cutter guide that works for everybody, right. So those things take time to create, they take time to think of like the thought work to like let’s also talk about the thought work that we put in to the work that we do and how that takes time. And you have to create space for it to happen. Like we’ve touched on it before. But I always think about giving yourself the time to design giving yourself the time to improve your craft and master your craft. Every time you’re on a project, it’s coming up for you that you feel like your designs aren’t good enough. A way that you can improve your design is to give yourself the time and the flexibility to be more creative to play around with things without feeling rushed. And so the quality of the work you deliver improves when you give yourself the time and space to let the creativity flow.

Sam Munoz 23:56
I love what you were saying about creating all of these assets for your client to make it easier for them to do their job in the project. And again, you can’t really expect them even with all of that guidance to have it done in a day these things on their end take time to they want the end result of their website to be amazing. And you do too like nobody wants to receive like crappy content that was like quickly written because they’re stressing out about a deadline like giving your clients time to finish their portion of the project. Even with samples and templates and all of those things they need space to do their own thought work. I actually haven’t really like I’ve I we have extended timelines right but I haven’t really thought about it in that very client centered way and how giving that can be as a service provider to give your client the time to finish their stuff. And how kind of that can be like that is such a kind and generous thing to say like we’re gonna book your project in there. Ladies, there are so many ways to fit this in where you’re still consistently making money and we talked about that in the mentorship about like, the strategy behind like stalking projects and like, what phases this one and because you can absolutely be like in a phase zero with one client where they’re giving you content while you’re in a phase one, with the next client actually doing the work, there’s ways to do it, and ways to do it very strategically. But it’s so giving to say, we’ve got your project booked, you’ve given us a down payment fabulous, you’re going to go ahead and do this work for the next month, I’m gonna check in with you, we can have a call to make sure you’re getting your stuff done. And then we move on to the next phase. That way you feel like you have enough time to do all of your work. And when it’s my time to step into the project, I have everything I need. And oh, by the way, I’ve given myself enough time and grace, to know that it’s not all going to go right. That is a kind thing to your clients. And it’s kind to yourself limited timelines. Rushing and urgency is only stressing you out. Again, speaking from experience,

Karyn Paige 25:56
Hmm, yeah, to exhale, not because I felt that same. It’s the other piece too of like, the limited timelines is like, yes, you can do it in a short amount of time. But you don’t have to? And do you want to, you know,

Sam Munoz 26:11
just because you can doesn’t mean you should go back to episode should you be offering everything like, just because you can does not mean you should. So let’s talk about kind of just some more high level ways to fix this. And again, if you are looking for depth in terms of like the strategy, and how to like actually fit this in and create a plan, we definitely deep dive into this in the mentorship when we talk about your process, project management, onboarding, offboarding. That whole section is all about this exact thing with you know, timeframes and timelines and how that relates to your pricing. But some more realistic things that you can do and get started on right now I would say the very first thing that I would recommend you do is do a time audit to see how long things actually take you. We use this free tool called toggle. And we can link that in the show notes. It is super easy. You can like add different projects and keep it all organized. But you literally like just push a button and it starts tracking your time. And every time you’re working on a client project, because again, you might be like mid client project right now. And you can’t go back and like add stuff to your timeline. That’s okay. But like start to take note of how long things take you How long is it taking you on back and forth with clients, maybe just writing it down on paper, like it took my client four weeks to give me their content, great, make sure you give them that much time next time. So just like doing a little bit of an audit, and observing how long things already take you and take your client, that’s a really strategic thing that you can start doing today right now.

Karyn Paige 27:36
Yeah. And so once you have that data, you can actually look at your full project timelines and be like, is this actually realistic, if you are feeling rushed, maybe you say, well, it takes me you know, 40 hours to do, you know, certain phase of the work. But I only want to allow myself 20 hours a week to do that. That means it’s going to take me twice as long to complete everything based on what I want my work life schedule to be. Once you have that data with the time audit, it’s about really being realistic and honest with yourself are my project timelines, realistic, manageable, sustainable. And if they’re not, then it’s time to make a change. The easiest

Sam Munoz 28:17
thing that you can do is if you’re giving yourself like five weeks and you’re feeling stressed out about it at a minimum, add an extra week, just give yourself a little bit more time. Even if you don’t know exactly how much time you need. I always try to like overestimate how long things are going to take. So if I think it’s going to take eight weeks, I’ll give us 10 weeks because I don’t want to be rushed. I don’t want to feel like the quality of our work is diminished because we are running up against the deadline. And at the end of the day like this is only going to serve you and your clients better and you can position it that way. And make it a bonus and a giving thing like I said before, like this is a gift to you and to your clients to give everything a little bit more time.

Karyn Paige 28:56
Yes. Cheers to give giving cheers to thinking of it as gift giving to yourself or your clients. Like I said at the top of this episode, I hope that we created some different options and presented some other ideas of how to even look at Project timelines and realizing like it doesn’t have to be constant frustration and rushing and urgency. It can be something different, it gets to be something different and you get to design that and define that for yourself.

The Making Website Magic

School of business

A 6-month mentorship program created for women looking to learn the simple magic behind crafting & selling web design packages to dream clients through discovery calls & intentional networking.

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