Thursday, June 8, 2006

Thank You For Your Time

People probably don't get it, but I write "Thank you for your time" out by hand at the bottom of my emails, above the pre-generated sig lines.

Time is my one finite commodity.

If someone puts a project request up on a site or write to me asking for a bid, they've spent time on that, and in return they're looking forward to quality in the response. I find that many of my competition on such venues are a disaster, a blight on my industry. Their responses are form letters, no consideration is given to whether they fit the job or why, generic quotes are pasted in, if any time has been spent on the response at all. They're quite stingy with their time, and I'll bet it shows when they're on the clock.

When I write to someone, I'm hoping that they read what I have to say. From the moment they open my email, to the moment they close it, their time is being spent on me. Time they will never get back. They're moments closer to the end of life on this fair Earth. My response, even if it ends up being the bid they choose, has just sucked away some portion of their time above and beyond the responses I have no control over.

I send out my blessings for the time they are spending on me every time I write "Thank you for your time" and click send.

At the same time, I have to acknowledge that the return-on-investment of me spending my time on these people hand-writing to them probably far overshadows the quality of responses I receive, if any. I get few if any clients through such competitive venues. That's why, if I know I don't fit a job, I am not going to waste my time writing to the person, unless--

Unless somehow I'm going to serve them in a very quick and definitive fashion.

I often write to people who seem to need a little advice. I have no intention of taking their job, it probably doesn't fit me, but something they said implied a need for direction. Sometimes I'm misguided, and should keep my fingers on the mouse, move on to the next ad. Sometimes I earn a bit of respect for my wisdom.

A long time ago I decided that the chance to help people is well worth spending my time on. If I save someone a moment of time, maybe that's one more time they smile at a child, blow dandelion seeds into the wind, procrastinate one less chore. Perhaps I'm saving some people far more than just a moment. Minutes. Hours, even! Those bundles of moments we measure.

I want to take a moment, if you have read this post, to thank you for your time. I really appreciate that you've listened to my babbling on this. This is a very important and dear topic to me.

With luck, I will eventually have sufficient referrals, print ads, and repeat business to leave off reading Craigslist and other posting venues, and spend more time creating, advertising, dreaming, and contributing to the works of others. In the meantime, here's a toast to the customers I have found at such places, the associates within my field, and to all the moments where people really connect and collaborate, whether for a minute or a month, and then sit back and salute a job well done.



[tags]time, gratitude, clients[/tags]


  1. I think this is a great post. Thanks for writing this.

  2. You are quite welcome! I hope to write many more inspired pieces -- preferably with less typos :)

    I was once a SciFi/Fantasy addict, but my life took some bizarre twists, and I decided that my life was so much more fascinating I should stop wasting my time emulating fantasy in mind, and start living my life. I also used to play role playing games, but found that there was always so much overhead at the games I spent as much time waiting as playing and fitting routine group events into my schedule that were not advancing my life, only avoiding it, were slowing me down. Now, I only occasionally take a break (because we all need breaks) and play a video game like the Sims. I know this is only a break, progress can be easily saved, the game premise is not so enticing that I spend time thinking about it when I'm done for the moment, it's easy to completely forget details and pick up where I left off even months later, and it's completely separate from peer pressure or my relationships with other people -- I only play when I want to play. I can choose when I need it and walk away from it knowing that I have plenty to do.

    In respect for my time, and the time of others, I'm starting to contribute at the GTD-PHP project, a personal productivity aid based on the book Getting Things Done. I'm using the system myself, now, although I have not fully utilized it yet, but it is helping me both to organize my personal commitments and my business commitments and projects.

    In closing, I would like to thank you for reading this, for being the first person to comment on it, and giving me some validation for having spent some of my time on it. I hope that some of my posts bring you something new to think about that eventually somehow enriches your life.



  3. Oh, yes, One more thing!

    I'm getting to the point where instead of sitting around waiting for the next Craigslist posting, I'm networking extensively in my local area and check Craigslist every 1-3 days. Most posts I could have answered, I skip or read and move on. I now only answer posts (in hopes of getting the contract) that I really feel I have something unique to offer (such as someone looking for a wiki installation), or are within my local area (the Hudson Valley and more specifically Orange County, NY).

    I am getting clients through my local connections in the Orange County Chamber of Commerce and several networking groups. I highly(!) recommend that people on Craigslist get off their butts, be a little less of a geek, and find some local networking groups.

    Good luck out there. The competition is fierce. Market yourself face-to-face and you'll come out ahead of people offshore.


  4. [...] look back, for a moment, to my post “Thank You For Your Time” — are you expressing gratitude to people for their one finite commodity, their [...]