Guru's Escrow system is an excellent way to protect both of us - especially during our first project together. Essentially, you pay Guru, Guru holds the funds, you get your completed project, then you request Guru to release the funds. Because this system works so well, unless you have an extensive record of prompt payments, I require new clients to pay through the Escrow system.
Also, I highly recommend Guru's e-check payment system. It saves you money by allowing you to accumulate loyalty dollars, and it also saves me the expense of credit card or Paypal processing fees. A win for everyone!
Typically I check email 2-3 times per weekday, and will respond immediately to your requests at those times. While I may check messages during the weekend, most often your request will be answered on Monday morning.