I wrote two paragraphs of a post about setting limits with clients (an extended whine concealed behind a facade of ‘how to’) but I was interrupted by a phone call (from the cause of the whine).

While I was gone, my cat threw up on my laptop.

I guess mammal vomit focuses me, because after I cleaned my big 17″ Dell laptop (it was five years old but had a fabulous keyboard, and I’m saddened to report it remains in a coma), I abandoned the post and drove a stake through a client’s email project (sfx: “ka-ching”).

Finally.

In our 24/7 ‘Life as an ongoing stream’ universe, finishing anything is cause for celebration, not to mention an invoice.

That’s a reflection of the state of online marketing, but it also reveals the multi-tasking, multi-harried mindset of our clients.

They may hire me to do “a” job, but given the integration essential to success in online marketing, I’ll likely to find my fingers in a lot of media pies.

In simple terms, I used to call my clients when I wasn’t working for them.

Today, they call me.

And I’m almost never entirely not working for them.

Right now, I’m running 1.5 projects too many — and I have two prospects pestering me for proposals.

In the bad old days, you’d take both those projects, work a few late nights and a couple weekends, and send the invoice. Today, both those projects are essentially open ended, so accepting them as I used to accept a direct mail letter would be a colossal mistake.

When your projects take on aspects of moving water (I’m irresistibly drawn to nature analogies), intentionally overloading yourself comes with a one-way ticket to prolonged stress.

I’m being forced to revisit my assumptions (more accurately my knee-jerk reactions) about which projects are doable and which represent more weight gain, hair loss, and reddened eyes.

I’m also being far more vocal about project limits and clearer about the hourly rates charged when I cross the line from “email wizard” to “social media integrator” to “online presence manager.”

After all, I’m facing a double whammy; I’ve gotta take the cat to the vet and shop for a new laptop.

Keep writing, Tom Chandler.