I have a hard time saying no, and I suspect I'm not the only writer out there with this problem. We are stereotyped as being procrastinators and chronically late on deadlines, but often the problem is something else entirely: We find it too difficult to say no, even when we know saying yes is going to overload us.
Over the past year, since I made some changes to my life and started freelancing seriously again, I've come to realize how important it is for me to get better at saying no. I don't say yes because I'm afraid of saying no; I just fail to be honest with myself about whether I want to say yes.
I think I'm a pretty strong, independent woman, but the truth is I still get myself into pickles because I feel obligated to help people. Whether it's a friend who needs a favor, one of my families when they're in a bind, or one of my freelance clients, I have a hard time saying, "No, I don't have time for that, I'm sorry."
I mention the other examples -- friends and my babysitting/nanny work -- because even though that's not about freelancing, it still affects my freelancing. It's all income, but I tend to accept babysitting even when it complicates my schedule unnecessarily, and even when I know I won't back off my freelance work to account for my additional time commitments.
I'm equally as bad about accepting freelance work. A client gives me a big project or asks for a rush job, and I find it hard to say no, even if I know I'll find it difficult to complete the work in time. The result is that I sometimes have to choose between missed sleep or missed deadlines (or split the difference).
Like I said, this is something that I've become increasingly aware, over the past year, that I have to change. Today I practiced saying no. It was hard, but it had to be done, and I feel pretty good about my decision.
What about you? Do you find this difficult, too, and if so how do you try to overcome it?