How to Turn Down Work When You’re Too Busy

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Learning to say No!

Whether you’re a full time or part time blogger, completing an internship, or have clients chasing you for more work than you’ve got time to complete, chances are we’ve all experienced that feeling when you simply can not take on any more work.

In my previous jobs, especially while interning, I learned the importance of being the ‘Yes’ person. Showing willing to complete every task, and go over an above what’s expected, but now that I’m self employed and have hundreds of offers coming in every week, I’ve found that saying ‘No’ is an equally important skill to have. Here are a few tips and thoughts on how to turn down work, while still being polite, professional and friendly.

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  1. Be Honest When You Simply Don’t Have Time.
    Sometimes, by just being honest and saying that you simply do not have the time to complete a task, is a much better solution than accepting something, and then letting someone down. Whether that’s a new responsibility at work, or a blog campaign, whoever is setting you the task will understand – as long as you give a reason.
  2. Set Your Priorities
    Think carefully about what tasks you have to do, and which are the most important. Which tasks can you complete the quickest? Get those done sooner rather than later to shorten your to-do list, and then think about the benefits you’d gain from completing the work offered to you. I know in lots of instances, you don’t often have a choice, you can’t frequently choose to turn down work, but if like me you’re self employed, choosing between different campaigns and jobs means you have to think carefully about the long term benefits of each.
  3. Remember Who Has Helped You.
    Keep a mental note of who has helped you out in the past, so that you can return the favour when they ask you to do something. Equally, I’m sure every workplace has that one person who always asks, and never gives anything in return. I’m far more likely to accept work from someone who has helped me out in the past, whether that’s on a personal level, or a work level.


4. Know you’re worth!

If you’re the intern or assistant in a workplace, you’re probably going to be asked to make the coffee at some point. We’ve all been there! Everyone has to start at the bottom and prove their worth in order to move up the ranks, so think twice if you think a job is below you, especially if you’re just starting out. Equally, no one is too good to go and pop the kettle on. When I was Marketing Manager at my previous job, I would still offer to make the tea every now and then – it’s important to keep it down to earth and be willing to be a team player.

When blogging, don’t feel obligated to accept every campaign that comes your way, and especially if it’s unpaid. Brands often ask a lot from bloggers, and knowing when you’re going to benefit as much as the brand is going to benefit is key. Equally, know when to ask for money! This is something I actually get asked a lot, and I always say that if there are clues that the brand is asking you to partake in a full on campaign, chances are they have some budget behind it. If they ask you to publish a certain type of content, by a deadline, or include a specific product, then it should be paid. If they’re just asking to send you something, and if you like it then you might like to write about it, it probably won’t be paid.

5. Know when to Ask for Help

There’s always someone who will try to fob their work off to someone else. All offices have one. Then equally there’s the opposite type of person who will be super friendly and offer help whenever possible. If this sounds like you, and you’re constantly doing work for your colleagues, you’re probably exhausted! Next time this happens, why not take a look at what could be done by someone else, and see if you can switch tasks? Perhaps the person giving you the task actually does have time, but may have difficulty with the task, and would happily do something for you in return.

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6. Be realistic with your promises.

If I am turning down, or postponing a job, I find it so important to let the client or brand know when I will be free, or have time to complete the task. Create a proper ‘waiting list’ and prioritise the jobs that you don’t have time to complete yet.

7. Use your time wisely.

A final point is to ensure that the work you do accept is done well and to the best of your ability. A trap I often find myself in, is too many jobs half done. I like to stick to a To-Do list, and work much more productively if I complete one task before moving on to the next. Ironically writing this blog post has been the total opposite – I must have ticked off 5 or 6 other things from my To Do list while this post has been in  my drafts. A few things that help me to complete my tasks on time include setting myself a proper work schedule – such as working on a post for an hour, uninterrupted, without checking emails, and, of course, coffee! (Quick tip for Nespresso lovers, I recently discovered who sell capsules that work for Nespresso machines, but much cheaper!)

Read More : 10 Things to do before 9am for a Productive Day

With a well time-managed schedule, hopefully you can achieve more in the time you have, but why not spend those valuable extra minutes on some me time, instead of taking on extra work!

What I Wore

Leggings by Sweaty Betty
Jewellery by JewelleryBox
Boots by Emu
Top by Club Monaco
Sunglasses by Valentino via Garment Quarter

What are your tips for managing your workload? Do you struggle to turn down work, even when you’re busy?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!