WORKPLACE / FEB. 11, 2016
version 10, draft 10

3 Times It’s Ok to Say No to Work

Most of us, especially those of us who are freelancers, or who do some freelance work on the side have a major issue we need to deal with. We can never say no when it comes to taking on a new project. Admit it, how many times have you been swamped, weren’t sure if you’d get the time to shower for the day and then said yes to a new project?

I’m not sure whether we do it because we are frightened that by saying no we’ll lose work and money, or because we are afraid they’ll call us unprofessional, or worse: lazy!

The truth is that most people who don’t have a full-time job are always a bit preoccupied with the fact that a lot of people out there think that we should never say no to any work offered to us. Most people who are outside the freelance game think that those of us who are freelancers spend our days sitting on our bums watching telly and occasionally doing some work. This means that if we reject a project, it is because we are lazy and we don’t put in any work.

The truth is far from that, though, we are definitely busier than full-time employees because we know that not working means no paychecks and no paychecks means bills piling up. That’s not to say though that you should take on every project offered to you. There are times when it’s ok to say no to work:

1. When You Know You Are Not the Best for the Job


Being a freelancer means knowing your own strengths and limitations. And there’s nothing wrong with having limitations, nobody is good at everything. When it comes to taking on a project, you need to know that you can successfully complete it. You want to have optimal results for your client so if you are certain that what you are going to hand them will not be the best result they could get, reject it and recommend another freelancer to do the work. Your fellow freelancer will appreciate the gesture, and they are sure to send some work your way when they can, and the client will also appreciate your honesty.

2. When You Are Too Busy

son wants to spend time with busy father

There’s really no point in taking on more work if you are already too busy. First of all, if you are busy, and you to take on another project then you are sure to miss a deadline. You are also probably not going to be able to do your best work on each project, and this will hurt your reputation.

It’s true that as a freelancer you need connections, and you need clients, but if your work is going to be average then you are going to lose the clients sooner or later, so focus on building strong relationships with your clients so that they keep coming back to you.

3. When It Makes You Uncomfortable

hard work in uncomfortable office

Clients are not always logical, and you are bound, sooner or later, to meet a client who’s going to ask you to take on a project that makes you uncomfortable. It could be that it’s because it goes against your beliefs, it could be that it seems a bit foggy to you, or it could be that you just have a feeling that things are not going to turn out the best.

In these cases, it’s best if you don’t agree to take on the project as you never know what you might get yourself into. You are also probably not going to be able to do your best work, and as we’ve already discussed, this will hurt your reputation.

See Also: 5 Reasons Freelancing is Not for Everyone

Just because you are in a position in which you need to take on more work to pay the bills, that doesn’t mean that you should always say yes. Being sensible and trusting your gut is always the best policy when it comes to making decisions, and work decisions should not be any different.

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