Tip for a Tuesday | Saying “No”

As I write this blog post I am trying to stay ahead of my schedule to hopefully give myself some time off in the future….but I know myself and when that free time comes, I will use it to try and better my business in some other fashion. Instead of letting myself have a day to myself.

(P.S. Real life…this blog post was written September 2017 and I scheduled in February 2018, so while I slacked a little bit, I did eventually stay ahead of schedule! Yay me!)

This is a very classic Mary thing to do. I am a “Yes”er. I say Yes! to adventures, I say Yes! to busy schedules, I say Yes! to time away from my loved ones for someone I don’t know. I am a “Yes”er. But I’ve learned to say “NO”.

When I started booking for 2017 summer/fall back last winter, I told myself I was overworked and absolutely WOULD NOT work Wednesdays. Wednesdays were going to be “Mary’s Day”. I was going to not send a single email, or work on any photos, or take any photo shoots. But as the inquiries started coming in, and the fact I want to take most of the winter off, I decided to fill most of those Wednesdays. 16 out of the 20 working weeks I had scheduled for last summer/fall to be exact. Classic sign of a “Yes”er, with the inability to say “No”.

But how can you say no when the inquires are coming in? When you have slots open to serve people, to make an income, to put your work in front of more eyes, how do you say no? That’s where I was at with my Wednesdays. I figured, one more day a week won’t hurt me, I can do it! Then amidst my busy season when I have 4-5 shoots a week with a full wedding day ahead of me, and Sunday comes around with “nothing” to do, I work because I am behind on my post processing. 

Saying “No” is a hard thing to learn. You have to learn to say it frequently when needed and in a way that doesn’t discourage or hurt the people you are saying no to. In this case it was turning away work so I could have time off. How did I do it? I completely blackened out days in my planner that I currently had open. I mean marked those suckers fully, so nothing could be written in the time slots. When I got a call asking for a date, and when I flipped through my trusty Erin Condren planner and saw I only had black out dates left – I was forced to say no. I was forced to send that business elsewhere.

The first few times was really hard on me. But after my first day where I didn’t have a photo shoot, I felt a lot better. When my work went from 5 shoots to 3-4 shoots a week, with a forced non-shooting day – everything got easier. My workflow, my editing, my client experience improved because I was able to say “No”.

Another “no” instance I want to just touch on is donations. As a small business I am hit up almost every other week for donating to a cause or event.  Now I do not want you to get me wrong, I 100% support donating and donating locally, but after you receive 14 Facebook messages asking to donate, you start to get a little itch. Financially I cannot afford to donate to everyone, so I am forced to say no. What made this easier for me was to choose the businesses/foundations that mean the most to me and to donate to those. Once I have and my donation budget is maxed out, I say no. I say no thank you. Do I give myself wiggle room to the adorable young kid who walked up to my door and rattled off a speech they were extremely nervous to give? Absolutely, because that took courage and strength to approach a stranger and ask them for support. But as for the many other things small businesses are asked to donate to, I just had to learn to say NO to stay a financially strong business. 

So grant yourself some grace. Say no when you are in a place where you can’t do anything else. Say no when you just don’t want to do something. Say no when it doesn’t feel right.

From this “Yes”er to you, it’s okay to sometime be a “No”er.



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