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When it Rains, it Pours

Categories: Career, Making Time


Last week I wrote about how work seemed to come my way at about the same rate that it fades out of my life. Later that same week, I was checking out my Facebook feed and I saw a status update from someone in my network of contacts that caught my eye:

“Seriously, does anyone know who I can hire to create a website?

I got all excited. Although I am not a web designer by trade, I’ve certainly had a fair bit of experience putting together basic websites, including the site that my husband and I use for our own small businesses, several blogs and other sites of a similar nature. I’ve dabbled with Wordpress design and coding and so far I haven’t broken anyone’s website. I decided to reply to my friend that yes indeed, I did know someone who she could hire to create a website, and that someone was me. I supplied her with links to the websites that I currently maintain and she liked what she saw. After hearing from her about the kind of website she had in mind, I arranged to put together an estimate for her.

The next day I was working away through my marking for school and my mind was racing. I was making a mental list of all the work I needed to get done over the coming weeks and realized that I had over-committed myself. Again.

I had customers to follow up with.

I had orders to deliver.

I had events to plan.

I had ads to place.

I had projects to grade.

I had chapters to proofread and edit.

When did I think I was going to have the time to create an estimate for a website, let alone actually accomplish the launch of a high quality website the client could be proud of? There were not enough hours in the day (see the title of this blog).

this isn't happiness.™

(Image source: this isn’t happiness)

It pained me to do so, but in the end I sent a polite message to my friend telling her it wouldn’t be in the best interest of her business for me to take on the job, after all. I explained to her that I have a tendency to take on too much at once and I apologized that I wouldn’t be able to do the job for her, offering to refer her to someone else if she’d like. I turned down work, a practice that felt completely wrong and foreign to me.

Still, I’m proud of myself for understanding my limitations. I can’t do anything well if I’m trying to do too many things at once. This is one of the hardest professional lessons I’ve had to learn.

What are your professional limitations? Have you ever turned down work? How do you feel about doing so?

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3 comments so far...

  • Oh, I’m the same as you! I say Yes! and then I realize that I have too much on the go. I’ve been learning to say no, even though it’s hard.

    Angella  |  April 10th, 2013 at 2:28 pm

  • Oh my, yes! Today we had to turn down an order that simply wasn’t paying enough for the work involved. We might have been able to pull it off but at what cost?

    Laura  |  April 10th, 2013 at 11:52 pm

  • It’s really hard, isn’t it, Angella? I know, you’re a really busy and ambitious mom too and want to do EVERYTHING! It’s hard to say no.

    Laura, it’s totally a skill to determine whether some jobs are “worth it” and what those costs might be. Good for you!

    amyurquhart  |  April 17th, 2013 at 11:15 am