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Are you a people pleaser? Do you always say yes even when it’s really inconvenient for you? Many of us struggle to say no when someone asks us to do something. We want to be seen as helpful. We don’t want to let anyone down. But saying yes to every single request can really hurt your productivity. Important business tasks get pushed to the side in favor of errands for family members. Social engagements get turned down in favor of last-minute requests from clients. Something’s gotta give!
Here are some tips and tricks to help you say no and increase your productivity.
Define what’s important to you in your career, relationships, and personal life
Let’s face it. We’re not super heroes. We can’t do it all. Not unless we want to burn out! So we need to figure out what things are most important to us in our lives and let the rest go. Obviously, family and friends will be top of that list for the majority of people. Other things that might be important to you are hobbies, your job, or certain charitable causes.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re saying yes to then you can start saying no to things not on that list.
Saying no in your business
Say no to fun stuff if you need to get things done
One of the worst things about being a freelancer is that it’s hard to keep to a Monday to Friday schedule. It often feels like you’re working around the clock to get your business off the ground and keep those clients happy.
While I think it’s essential to take at least one day off each week (easier said than done, right?), sometimes you have to work at the weekend to make sure that a project is completed on time and to a high standard. It’s especially important at the beginning stages of your business when you’re trying to become established. In this case, you’ll need to turn down invitations to do fun things even when you don’t want to.
Try to look on the bright side. When your business becomes successful, you’ll have more freedom and resources to control when you take time off.
Related Content: Too much life in your work-life balance? Here’s how to fix it!
Say no to clients that you don’t want to work with
Recently, I said no to two reasonably high-paying editing jobs. You probably think I’m crazy for doing that! Especially since my business is still new, and I’m not earning as much as I’d like to yet.
So why would I even consider saying no to paying work?
Basically, I weighed up the pros and cons of each job, and the cons won. Both jobs were in niches that I’m not familiar with and have no interest in working in. And both emails from the potential clients had red flags in them indicating the clients would be difficult to work with.
What kind of red flags am I talking about?
They expected turnaround times that weren’t feasible.
They said my rates were too high. (If anything, my rates are too low!)
Overall, they just gave the impression that they’d be difficult to work with. (High expectations of quality but not willing to pay for quality.)
I thought long and hard before I said no to these opportunities. Really it came down to two questions:
- Will this job move me closer to achieving my goals?
- Am I willing to miss out on other opportunities by saying yes to this one?
I couldn’t answer yes to either question, so I had to say no. I have no regrets. No amount of money is worth working with nightmare clients.
Don’t feel like you have to take every job that comes your way. Your mental health is more important! Of course, we can’t go through life only doing the things we want to do but saying no more often will make you much happier.
If you prioritize working on projects that interest you and working with clients who are a good fit for your business, you’ll be more invested in the projects you’re working on which means you’ll put more effort in and in turn both you and the clients will be happier. Win, win!
What would you do in this situation? Do you agree with my logic or do you think I’m crazy?
Say no to scope creep unless the pay increases as well
This one is a tough one! You want to go above and beyond for your clients, but the more extra work you do for free, the more they expect for free. If you think the scope of the project has grown, politely let your client know that you will need to increase your fee as the amount of work and time commitment has increased.
Saying no when you work from home
Setting boundaries with your clients
When you’re a freelancer or you work from home, people tend to expect you to be available to them 24/7. It’s not like when you have an office job and the office closes at the weekends.
Of course, you can choose to work at the weekends if you want to! That’s your prerogative as a business owner. But if you want to have some downtime, I recommend putting an out of office on your email account and letting people know that you’re away from your desk, but you’ll reply to them soon. This is especially important with repeat customers who can quickly get used to you replying to them straight away.
· Define what your office hours are. Before deciding on what your office hours should be, consider when your are. This will be the time when you are most alert and have the most energy.
You will also need to consider when your clients are most likely to need you. Are you in a different time zone? If so, you might need to allocate a couple of hours at unusual times to work.
When you have decided what your office hours are, put an out of office response on your email so that current or potential clients know not to expect a response right away. You could also include your office hours on your website contact page and in your email sign off.
· Close the door to your office when you’re not supposed to be working. If you don’t have a dedicated office and work from the kitchen table, then clear away your work documents at the end of the workday. This will signal the switch from work time to life time.
· Stop checking emails past a certain time. I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to stop yourself from doing this is to turn off notifications. Having them on just increases the temptation. The accessibility of technology makes it hard to switch off, but if you actively avoid checking your notifications, you will feel like you have so much more free time.
Setting boundaries with your friends and family
You may also need to set boundaries with friends and family. One of the most difficult things about working from home is that other people assume you’re available at the drop of a hat. So they ask you to run errands for them or meet up for coffee several times a week.
Of course, the ability to meet up with friends for coffee whenever you want is one of the perks of working from home. But it’s the WORK that pays for these coffees, so you still need to prioritize it.
Don’t feel bad about saying no to some requests. Explain that you have work to do. They will understand.
Once you’ve set your office hours, let your friends and family know that you will be generally unavailable during this time as you need to focus on your work.
Setting boundaries is a good thing. You’re not saying “Don’t ever ask me to do anything”; you’re saying “I’m busy between these times, but I can do something after that.”
You might also like
- How to be more productive when you work from home
- How to identify and fix your productivity leaks
- 3 Ways Meal Planning Can Improve Your Work-at-Home Life
- 6 Challenges of Working from Home and How to Overcome Them
- 4 Simple Ways to Stay Active When You Work from Home
- 6 Steps to Quitting Your Job and Becoming a Freelancer
How to say no without offending anyone
One of the main reasons we say yes to things we shouldn’t is because we’re afraid of offending people. But if you say no the right way, this won’t be an issue.
Step 1: Thank the person
Thank them for thinking of you. This shows that you appreciate the fact that they thought of you when they were looking for someone to help them.
Step 2: Point them in the direction of someone who can help
Pointing them in the direction of someone who can help will show them that you do care about solving their problem, but you just don’t have the time or skills to help them yourself. They’ll appreciate that you’re still being helpful.
Are you ready to start saying no so you can regain control over your productivity?