It’s Okay to Say No


Opening a coworking space is a mountain of a project; while we’re fortunate that there are three of us dedicated to the task, we’re unfortunate in the way that our other jobs and responsibilities prevent us from putting all available time into it. We all want the business to succeed, but resources are spread thinly. When a task needs done I’m one of the first to jump up and say I’ll take it on and make sure no one else has to worry about it. Mix that in with a tendency to strive for perfection and suddenly my spare hours to spend on the coworking space project aren’t anywhere close to enough to complete all the things I commit myself to doing.

One of the projects I recently jumped at the opportunity to take on was the implementation of a customer relationship management system (CRM for short). Plenty of free solutions exist for a CRM system, but the lack of integration with access control systems, payment gateways, and other customer-facing portals turned me away from the free solutions and led me down the path of building the system from scratch by myself. On a 40+ hour work week where this is my only project, developing a CRM system would not have been such a beast, but my weekly 10 hours (most of which get spent on other tasks for LifeSuccess.com and greenCOW) made the completion of this task a pipe dream.

Dumping my spare hours into building this system quickly turned into an unnecessary burden on a few levels. Most obviously it was a leech for my time. A project like that can easily take over 100 development hours. I was locked into spending every extra moment of time over my next few months on this task as opposed to the plethora of other things that needed to be done for either company. I found myself pumping hours of time into this project where little to no tangible progress was being made — just because I wasn’t pleased with the other solutions out there, and I felt I had a responsibility to the rest of the team.

The second burden was implicit. I was perfectly aware that my time was not being used effectively because of the project I agreed to take on. That realization slowly took a toll. Eventually I started feeling guilty about working on the CRM project because I knew that my time could be better spent elsewhere. As a result I would try to work on other things, but then I would feel guilty that this massive CRM project was sitting on my desk and I was working on something else instead.

It became cyclical. It was getting worse. My overall attitude was suffering from feeling overwhelmed, and it started negatively affecting completely unrelated parts of my life. I needed to fix this, and today I did.

Today at our weekly meeting I came forward with this struggle. I explained to my team that I bit off more than I could chew and I needed to just plugin a free solution for CRM so that my time could be spent doing other things we needed done. I am fortunate to work with a team that is understanding and willing to change course if it means getting to our destination more effectively.

If you’re like me you’re a people-pleaser and a “yes-man.” While that’s okay to do from time-to-time, I learned there can come a point when you’re spread so thinly you aren’t able to operate at 100%. The takeaway here is to be conscious of how much you have on your plate and to be unafraid of saying “no” from time to time if it means keeping you in your most productive state.


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