The BIGGEST single problem that stops you getting more done is you. But in second place comes everybody else. Maybe Facebook is joint second but really it’s the way that whenever you need something from somebody, there is a delay.

However, think about what happens when you need something from someone. Whether it’s the tiniest contractual detail or it’s approval before you can go on to the next thing, the process works the same way. You tell them what you need, they don’t answer and you’re left hanging around. You’re human so you can’t help but churn over it. Is it too soon to chase them? Is it too late to go stand on their desk until they do it?

Set parameters

Rather than waste your time and energy dwelling on what may or may not happen, I’d suggest you set some parameters. Phone them up and when you get their inevitable voicemail, leave a message like you always would do except add this to the end: “I’ve sent you the email with the terms and conditions that we discussed. If you don’t get a chance to ring me back earlier, I’ll ring you on Friday to check that everything is OK.”

By doing this, you’ve prompted them to call back if they want to (or not, if they don't want to) and you've given yourself permission to stop thinking about it until Friday. Basically, you’ve taken control, acted professionally and can now move on to another job.

There’s no guarantee that you’ll get them on Friday but there wasn’t a guarantee anyway. What there is now is the fact that you don’t need to think of them until then.

I don’t mean to suggest that people are rubbish at phoning you back because they’re rubbish. You know that it’s really just that they’re busy. One thing that leaving this type of message does is tell them that you get that, you’re fine with it, in fact you understand it because you’re busy too. We’re all professionals, that’s what you’re saying. It’s like when you haggle over a contract fee - even though behind the take-it-or-leave-it bluff you really, really need that money, if you look like you don’t need a job, you get it. If you sound like you’re busy, you’ll get busy.

Plan ahead

After weeks, even months of chasing someone, it’s often the case that people suddenly make a decision and want information about what you do at the snap of their fingers. Rather than be caught on the hop, I’ve always got several different CVs ready to go – e.g., my one for journalism mentions Radio Times a lot; my drama one plugs the Doctor Who radio plays I’ve written. Also, I have bio text and head shots ready.

Build a stack of information about yourself so that you can tweak it for the next time rather than waste time writing everything from scratch. A good tip for writing bios is to write down two things you’ve ever done that are relevant to the work you want and one thing that is notable or perhaps a bit unusual but ridiculously far away from what you do.

For instance, the last thing I did that needed a bio was a gig being a judge on a television awards panel. I wrote that “William Gallagher is a Radio Times writer, author of BFI TV Classics: The Beiderbecke Affair and he’s flown helicopters”.

I was the least of all the judges on that panel but my bio went first on the programme and I think it’s because I was the first to reply to the request and I included some information that was remarkably different from everyone else. This happens: I’ve been given my pick of a slot just because I was so fast responding. And I can be fast because I have this stuff ready.

Actually, just between us, I also use some technology. If I simply type my little code phrase “xbio” into an email or into Word, then my Mac pops out a 400-word bio that I’ve previously written. I then edit it, of course, and I bend it to suit the project I’m on, but it’s easier to change 400 words than it is to start anew. Technology is truly the creative freelancer’s friend and you’ve already spent a lot on your computer…next time we’ll deal with getting much more out of that.

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