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SENSE & SENSITIVITY, A COLUMN BY HARRIETTE COLE

Stepping back may be freelancer's best option

Friday, June 21, 2013 - 7:13 am

Q.: I have been working with a small-business owner on a very exciting project. I was clear about my role, and I even got it defined in writing. Twice already I have been asked to pitch in at the last minute and help out with responsibilities that are not in my purview and for which I am not being paid.

I do not have time to get sucked into extra duties without pay. I am a freelancer, and I need to work on getting more clients . Do you think I am being stingy with my time? – Making Boundaries, Shreveport, La.

A.: It is very important to create boundaries about roles and responsibilities in business. When you put these details in writing and review them with your clients, you create a better chance of remaining clear as the project gets under way. In some instances, it makes sense to pitch in and do more. Many projects start in a particular way, and additional needs are discovered as time goes on.

That does not mean, however, that you are beholden to fulfill them. What you can do is renegotiate your contract. Or you can you are available only to do what is outlined in your agreement.

Be kind and be clear. This will allow your employer to evaluate what the needs are and how he or she intends to fulfill them moving forward.

Q.: I am feeling overwhelmed. I am weighed down by piles of debt. My home is in disarray. I go to sleep in the middle of the day to shut it all out. What can I do to turn myself around? – Afraid, Racine, Mich.

A: Start by making a list. You can write topics to organize your list. For example, one topic is bills, another is home, another is personal. Under each, write what needs to get done. Figure out tiny tasks that lead to fulfilling each goal. You can list each creditor you owe on a separate line. Then contact each one to say that you need extra time to pay your bills, and ask for mercy. In your home, list each room or area that needs your attention. Choose a day to work on one thing at a time. If you approach each task as one thing to do rather than the whole job to be done, you make your work more manageable.

By the way, taking a nap is OK. Schedule that, too. Just remember to schedule getting up, moving your body and completing at least one task on your list each day.

Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.