my office bulletin board. highlights include Emily McDowell's business card, the original ELISEJOY mission statement, an expired polaroid of E, all the photobooth strips, and a "let that shit go" print from Your Joyologist.
I shared last month that one of the ways I keep my work tasks manageable is by saying "No" a lot.
This is my main thought on "No" : it can be really hard to say it, but it's WAY HARDER to not say it and sign on to something you can't or don't want to do. Ultimately, saying "no" is better for you and the person you're saying it to. Who wants to work with an uninterested participant? No one.
I got a few questions about what I say "No" to or how I draw the boundaries. I haven't really thought it through, so it was interesting for me to dive deeper into this. It turns out that for me, there are five big hoops any one request has to get through. There are always exceptions, but for the most part, quickly asking and answering these questions can help me decide yes or no about a project or opportunity.
*Please note, this is all work related. Saying "no" to personal things is less technical.
Is there a decent financial payoff? If yes, a project has cleared hoop one and I'm going to consider it. If no, I might say yes, but it needs to be worth it on the other four aspects. Speaking at WDS is a perfect example of something that didn't pay me but was an absolute swish through the remaining four hoops making it worth the amount of work.
Does it match up with my current mission? Because I've blogged for nine years about a variety of things, I get a variety of requests for "partnerships." Sometimes people want me to blog about or contribute to articles about wedding things or scrapbooking things or military things or baby things. Obviously these are all interesting areas, but they don't make sense for what I'm working on and sharing right now. Opportunities that are DIY project, craft, small-business or goal-setting focused tend to get my attention these days.
Is the timeline reasonable? I hate to scramble. I'm never going to deliberately commit myself to a scramble.
What's the opportunity cost? Every time I sign on to anything I'm signing away my free time, time with Ellerie, time with Paul, time for my own blog, time for my own business. Is this option worth that sacrifice? This is the big one. A lot of smaller projects get passed up because I know that energy needs to be spent elsewhere.
Does it make me excited? I'm looking to connect with a project. This is really a gut feeling but to put it into words: I can tell it's a good fit when I immediately have an idea for where I could take this. The Canon sponsored posts (here's one of those) are a perfect example... when that opportunity came up, my brain was whirling with project ideas and I couldn't get started fast enough. The "this is so exciting!" projects are the ones that keep this interesting.
I wouldn't suggest that these five questions work for everyone or every field. I couldn't have used these questions five (or even two!) years ago because I was still figuring out what I was doing. I had to try a lot of things to learn what actually made sense. I continue to experiment with timelines and work loads to find what's the best. When I was just getting started, every opportunity felt exciting (which is great and normal!) but experience helped me realize the difference between "new-project rush" and "lasting, motivating rush."
I don't doubt that as I get older, my family gets older and my business gets older my "no" threshold will change again. That evolution is all part of this.
My recommendation if you're struggling with saying "No" is to really think about what your priorities are. They are most likely different than mine. Consider past projects that succeeded and past projects that sucked. What were the differences? How can you set boundaries to avoid the bad ones for next time?
Want more on this topic? I recorded a fun podcast episode with Tiffany Han last summer that talks about saying NO. And how when we say NO we are really just giving ourselves the opportunity to say YES to other things.
And speaking of podcasts...this week on ELISE GETS CRAFTY, I'm chatting with the women behind Dear Handmade Life and Craftcation (a conference I'll be speaking at next month!) about the value of building relationships offline. Subscribe on iTunes or stream here.