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I was overwhelmed when I first started working from home until I improved my time management skills and learned to say this one thing. No! It wasn’t easy and I felt horrible because I’m a people pleaser. But it did get easier as time went on.
This thing about working from home is that you’re generally not tied to a routine, that is especially true if you working for yourself. On the other hand, it’s easy to let things pile on and add to your already busy schedule. And I’m not talking work wise.
You know what I mean. Your husband ask you to pick something up at the home improvement store… since your home now and have so much free time. Your sister calls and wants to chat… after all you’re not doing much now that you’re home. And then the neighbor stops by, uninvited, for coffee and details about the latest Walking Dead episode… and now that your home she wants to make this a daily routine.
That’s doesn’t even count all the stuff you want to say yes to, such as the field trip to the zoo for your son class. Or volunteering to coach your daughter’s soccer team. And then there’s the church group that ask you to join their fundraising drive.
With all the extra demands, interruptions and commitments you’ll find you won’t be making nearly as much money as you thought or need.
What to do?
Value Your Time
I always use my answering machine to monitor incoming calls. If no one leaves a message or screams “help” I know I’m okay to call back later.
There’s only one of you and a finite amount of time during the day. Sure you need to prioritize everything, but make sure there’s some time in there for you and your goals. While your family should always be your number one priority, it doesn’t mean you have to chat with your sister just because she wants to. You can always call her back later, when you have the time. After family your work at home goals–and time–should be second on the priority list. Next time something or someone comes up unexpectedly, ask yourself, “is this really the best use of my time?”
Have a List of No Responses
Like the Boy Scouts, you should always be prepared with a no responses. The no’s will be different for each of the people you interact with, but it’s good for you your sanity and your time to have them ready. It might be as simple as “I have to call you back in a couple of hours,” with no reason given. If you feel you must have a reason, then keep it short. “I have to get this done by 2 PM,” or “I have some other commitments right now and won’t have time for that.” Sometimes you might have to be ready with the “no” beforehand a possible time saboteur so you might want to call that next door neighbor and schedule a chat for specific time.
Don’t Feel Guilty for Saying No
I know it’s hard to say “no” when you’re people pleaser, but it does get easier over time. What you will also discover is that over time you set some boundaries. Not just for yourself, but also with all those people who are taking up your time on a regular basis. They’ll soon realize that you have a real job even if you are working from home.
I’ve just touch the surface of how to say “no.” It’s all about balance and not making yourself crazy. It so easy to feel overwhelmed when you keep saying yes when you know it isn’t right for your goals. One of the best books I’ve found to help is When I Say No, I Feel Guilty. It’s been around for awhile and has withstood the test of time. It’s an easy read filled with practical ideas. Maybe soon you’ll be saying, “My time management skills improved when I learned to say… no!”