Saying No

The hardest thing is, when you think about focusing, is saying no.

~ Steve Jobs

Some may have realized this a long time ago. But I know quite a few freelancers in my business having a hard time keeping a balance of work load. This includes me.

Keeping work load down and having a balanced schedule is key to keep happiness, health and well being.


Sure, saying no can be really hard. I find that most of the times I say yes to work it’s about greediness. You just want more and more money or credit for something you create. In some ways this can be a good thing that maybe motivates you, allthough life would indeed be dull if the only thing that keeps you motivated was money.


Strangely fear has struck me when making desicions about work. I’m really afraid that if I say no this time, the client will never hire me again. Thinking this way will soon burn you out. The imminent likelyhood of you doing a good job somewhere and word of mouth begin spreading while you keep saying ‘yes’ will force you to work long hours, having less fun at work, evolving slower and so on. This is wrong.

Saying no to something just allows you to spend time and focus on more important stuff.

Never too late

A great friend of mine once told me that “It’s never too late to say no”. Soon thereafter I took on a job with a lot of risk which eventually resulted in a complete failure.

If I could have said no even a week in or two, I’m sure the client and myself would have been a lot more happier with the end result than we are now. I won’t go into details, but hey, we all make mistakes right.

Even if you have already said ‘yes’, you can always say no.

Creating Quality is About Focus

It takes a great amount of effort to create something of great quality. It also takes a lot of focus. Since I started consulting about four years ago, I’ve always tended to have lots of ideas and a lot of different duties, working on two or three projects in parallel.

This is really good if you want to produce work of low quality but on a greater scale. You’ll never become an expert if you do this. You’ll only keep struggleing when planning your days and get lots of interruptions that will cost you even more focus and time.

Promise yourself to dare saying no. Increase your hourly rate if money is an issue, but make sure to produce good stuff. That is what will differentiate you from the others.

So before I go and say no to a big deal, this sums up my thoughts on the issue quite well:

We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.

~ Steve Jobs, Business Week (12 October 2004)