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Help! I am SO SLOW....ADHD?

Hey all,



TL;DR - 


I am super slow writer/editor who keeps getting clients who need oter work with the writing - but it's work that I don't do/don't know how to do. Client has told me to stop submitting anything for now while he focuses on getting SOMETHING on his website. Client had me doing videography, video editing, voiceovers, and audio editing, which I have little experience in. Afraid I'll lose client. I am a subject matte expert and spokesperson and this is in a field in which I am an expert for real.


Even my TL;DR is long.


I have severe ADHD. I take meds and have a social worker.


I have a 5 yo and I also tutor.

I was doing well a first. I DID forget my deadline once, thought it was 2 days later than it was.


I feel like I have been put on minutiae and not able to really use my professional experience to improve the course they have developed. I am a subj matter expert and an educator.


I have a bad habit, also, of noticing when stuff outside of my purview is not up to par, then getting sidelined by that.


I take FOREVER to do things. Like, it takes a little longer to get tasks completed to my satisfaction, but also it takes forever for me to fit clients into my schedule. That's horrendous, of course. I know how irresponsible that is or sounds. I am trying to give my 100% attention to the work, and when I see that that's not possible, I try to make room for it later. I don't want something that I have to re-do because it was half-assed.

So I bound between taking care of home and kid, or taking care of client.


I consistently underestimate how long things take, and overestimate how fast I can learn, and how much I know about something. This is my whole life, really.


Even though I tell clients that I don't actually know how to do something (e.g., voiceovers or video taping and production) I get roped into it somehow and just "do my best." I am assured that I sound capable and it's not hard. Then I try, then I have an angry client, or a project that has stalled. this happens ALL THE TIME. Like, the client thinks I am great, then wants to use me for something else, and eventually I get in over my head.


I also feel like I don't know what the client wants. I ask, and am often brushed off and told it will be fine or something. Knoiwing this is crap, I insist, and then they either go silent or give vague answers. My time is precious - as in, my uninterrupted time can't be squandred or I literally have to wait a day or two until my next uninterrupted chunk. (Sometimes).


So. I really have tried to be clear about what I can and cannot do well. I work to get a clear picture of the desired deliverable from the client. I worked for dozens of hours (and under-charged out of guilt) for a landinng page video that will never see the light of day. 


I have committed to not staying up late for projects anymore. I am not young, I am immune-supressed, and my son wakes up with the sun, which rises early in June. So I am trying to do this in tiny chunks.

I have gotten sick on this project and ended up in bed two days.


Most recently, I was given a milestone and told by the client's manager who said that, that in his experience, it should take four hours to record scripted (I wrote the scripts) voice-overs (I am the spokesperson) using a new software that I am just getting the hang of. One section (of about 40) of one tutorial was 33 minutes raw/not edited. The manager said we would deal with extra time when we could. My bad in this part is not broaching the over-hours subject because I was afraid I was too slow. I have no clue how long things SHOULD take.


How long SHOULD this take? I am not counting editing the scripts, which I had already done, but then discover needed more once I started recording. I am not charging for that, but it takes literally hours and hours per recording session. I have probably spent nearly 30 hours on this 4 hour project.


ALSO - I am tempted to keep working so that when he wants the work it is already. That's dumb, right?


I have poured so much effort and time into this, missing out on my son's first kite flying excursion. and tons of hours of fam time. It kils me for it to not be used. 


They are paying by the hour, but not in the hourly format. I think they don't know how and I want to send them a tutorial from UpWork. I cannot prov how I spent my time except for videorecording myself. 


Anyway, I have about 10 hours I'm willing to claim so far, have three to go in my estimate, but have not charged them for it, and have not requested funds yet because I have not recorded all 4 things fo the milestone. It has been, I think, five weeks on this milestone. for something that should have just taken 4 hours (allegedly). But, I am not including set-up time, learning the software, adjusting the scripts, and creating the companion images for the slides. I have made three slide-shows. So I got distracted by things that were NOT in the milestone, but that needed to be done. I also am limited, due to noise, on when I can actually record. I also do not get resources that tey oomise, like a vector image of their logo to use, or a quick Zoom tutorial on the software. I get sick of waiting an asking and just jumpo in. Those things cost days at a time.


And I had to wait for mics to arrive, and that took two weeks for one ond 8 weeks for the other because of COVID. We have had multiple delays due to COVID-19: shipping, videographer cancellation, etc. Oh, and make-up. 


But I am still slow. 


Yeah, It took me time to get a prof outfit, rig lighting, put on make-up, Magyver a teleprompter...this is all stuff that I was NOT going to be doing, but had to to get the job done, and they will not use that video. I tried so hard. And the client to his manager communication sucks, so I am working on one thing and then the manager knows nothing of the request from his supervisor..


I have been in situations like this before and do not do well.


I recognize that I am slow. Slow Slow. I want to be faster, but get super picky. I mae a video for them after protesting that I couldn't and they said it was fine, because it's COVID and I couldn't get to the videographer due to lockdown. 


I know I need to be fast. I really try to be fast, but then am beside myself at the quality. I am just not very fast yet. 


What do YOU all do? How are you so fast? 


I am sorry this is super disjointed. 


And long.




Community Member

Hey Maureen,


I've been at this for many years, and have learned a few things along the way. You and I have a thing or two in common, I do believe - for I'm disabled as well. 


I'm a firm believer in going after gigs you KNOW you can do in a timely fashion: and if you get one, complete that before starting another. Know what I mean? If a client tries to rope you into doing something you're not familiar with - there, I'm at a loss. It's happened to me, but there's not much they can throw at THIS ole fart! 


I don't know diddly about video either. Was it in your contract? If no, evidently the client has accepted that you're going to need some time to learn. Don't feel guilty, and for gawdsakes don't get stressed. Stress makes MY situation a lot worse; I don't imagine it does any less for you. And don't short-change yourself on hours, either. If they know you must learn, I do believe that's on their ticket. Anyone who's been at Upwork a while know if that's true or not?

Thank you. I have had clients pay me for learning and also give me passwords to websites or set up training for me. 


I like this client, and feel they havre been fair, but I know that it is ALSO my ability to get distracted easily.that has slowed me down.



Community Member

Wouldn't your life be easier if you had a bricks-and-mortar job, with a manager or supervisor who only assigns tasks that fit your capabilities, and who is ultimately responsible for getting projects done on schedule? Failing that, maybe you could set up an agency and work with a partner who could handle the client-facing side of things - someone who would have less of a problem saying "no" to tasks outside of the scope, and who could help to keep projects from running off the rails. 

Community Member

I'm so glad I'm a chad.

Jennifer M wrote:

I'm so glad I'm a chad.

What's a Chad?

I googled it and the first result was the country.
The second result was the Urban Dictionary definition, and I'd hazard a guess you don't mean to say you're one of those. 

re: "...and I'd hazard a guess you don't mean to say you're one of those."


Don't dismiss any possibilities when it comes to Jennifer.

Jamie F wrote:

Jennifer M wrote:

I'm so glad I'm a chad.

What's a Chad?

I googled it and the first result was the country.
The second result was the Urban Dictionary definition, and I'd hazard a guess you don't mean to say you're one of those. 

Jennifer M wrote:

Jamie F wrote:

Jennifer M wrote:

I'm so glad I'm a chad.

What's a Chad?

I googled it and the first result was the country.
The second result was the Urban Dictionary definition, and I'd hazard a guess you don't mean to say you're one of those. 

Too funny! And I'm a chad too!

On a more serious note, this should be pinned on top of the new to upwork section. It would get more attention from those newbies absolutely refusing to read any of the helpful hints until they have either: worked for free, cashed a bogus check, or both. 

Community Member

You can remove a lot of the stress of "having to be fast" by only taking fixed rate contracts. It really isn't fair on either party if you take (and bill) much more time than the average freelancer would.


Be upfront with clients that you may take a little longer (no need to expand on that with clients) and always build in a buffer for deadlines.

Community Member

There are several solutions. What the best one is will depend on what the issue is; you've only reported symptoms, not underlying condition.


One is to block out a time when you are "at work." That means your offspring, your sisters and your cousins whom you reckon up by dozens, and your aunts don't bother you from ten a.m. to two p.m. Be firm about it.


Another is to offer to find qualified people to do this other work. That takes time, also, for which you should be paid. My former partner made a living doing that on Upwork (eLance at the time). She would find videographers and Martian-Lemming translators and seven-legged dancers and whatever else was needed. If the client needed her to do it, she would manage their work. I used to take on complex projects requiring subject matter experts in multiple domains, finding people and managing the project in addition to doing whatever my own slice was. This isn't easy. It's much more difficult than just freelancing in a single domain.


The best might be to find people who do project management and partner with them. You've got the client and oneslice of his pie; the PM takes responsibility for the rest. Consider posting a job as a client asking for Project Managers to spend half an hour communicating with you about how to do this and what a partnership would look like. Hire the most likely four or five for half an hour each. This isn't free, of course, but Upwork's paranoia about freelancers talking to anyone, ever, outside of Upwork's micromanagement, means we need to invent workarounds.

Hi Maureen. I can sympathize,  as I have some of the same tendencies myself,  though probably not to the same degree. Over time I've got a bit better at saying "no", but I still find it difficult, and feel bad afterwards. I tend to think,  "surely I could have fit that in; it's only a few hours work". But everything always takes longer than I think it's going to. I'm currently doing a job which has been quite good financially, even though I haven't charged for all my hours because I think I've been slow.  But it's really not work I like to be doing, and I find it quite stressful. I guess if I was more of a "chad", I would charge for all the time or end the job.  But I don't want to let the client down, as the work is urgent and it would take time to get another person up to speed.


I find it helps to be honest about your limitations. If you tell your client that they're giving you too much work,  or work you're not suited to, then, if they still insist, you will probably find it easier to accept that it's their responsibility,  not yours. And that should make it easier to say "no".


As for being quicker, I don't really have any answers. But I find that stress and rushing mean that I make more mistakes and end up taking longer. So taking on less work-- and being less stressed--may help. 


Good luck!

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