Why we have to learn to say no to more work

Updated: Aug 1, 2019

I listened to a podcast recently, which explored the question of turning down short term work in order to work on longer term gains from marketing your own business. For me though, the question isn’t if you should do this, but when.


When do we say enough is enough? Because for me, it wasn’t when my daughter was six weeks old, and I was making myself go to meetings that could easily have been on the phone, leaving me doubled over with c-section recovery pain, and worrying about leaking milk through my shirt while a potential client chatted away about his summer. Even though it should have been.


It wasn’t when I’d put my plans to get married on hold to move down the country for the security of a job. Even though it should have been.


It wasn’t when this move made me more miserable than I’ve ever been in my life and I barely recognised myself or the parent I had set out to be. Even though it should have been.


It was after I’d hit my limit. It was after I’d moved back to where I knew I needed to be. After I told myself to get stricter with the hours I worked. After I started to feel like a good parent again. But nobody should have to hit a low point in order to bounce back up. Try and make your when a little earlier than crisis point.

Are you taking on too much to run your business effectively?

Freelancers, sole traders and business owners in every industry need to be able to see what they’re committing to. If that’s working 70 hour weeks, just to get everything done, or taking on work that fills up every evening, just to pay the bills, it’s not right.


Work should be something we enjoy. We’re self-employed because of an idea we once had that made us think ‘I’d like to do that’, and if you’re not liking it anymore, something has gone wrong.


Nobody is going to love their job every day, forever, but it should usually make you happy with what you produce. When the work you’re putting out isn’t what you recognise as your best, or even good enough, it’s time to say enough. Don’t squeeze it in. Don’t make it another task that makes you want to cry because you can’t go to bed yet even though you’ve been awake for 17 hours. Something has to give, and if it’s not your work, it’s likely to be your wellbeing.


The same thing goes whether it’s client work or your own marketing. If you can’t fit it in, that’s ok! There are literally millions of people in the UK that would be happy to help you. Take five minutes and make a list of the tasks you dislike the most. What can you outsource? What could another freelancer do for a skills swap (if your budget is limited)? What do you need to just get off your plate?


This month I’m not taking any more bookings in order to get stuff done. While it’s summer (and all childcare chaos ensues), it’s even more important to acknowledge what’s realistic. Don’t let your business, or you suffer. It’s summer. Enjoy it.


If you need help outsourcing your digital marketing, copywriting or PR, I still have a couple of spots left in September. Get in touch to secure a space at lauramsmith11@gmail.com or 07817321793.


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