Welcome to another #IMTTT segment. In keeping with February’s theme of self-love this week’s focus is on the art of saying ‘No’.

In an effort to avoid hurting people’s feelings many of us struggle with saying no to our friends, family, and even at work.

As creatives many of us find it difficult to say no to opportunities, out of the fear that we will miss out on something great. As a result we often find ourselves frazzled, overtly stressed and burnt out.

In the last segment we discussed the importance of writing things down. If you have been using the to-do list, you will already have a rough idea of how many of your tasks you are completing during the week. With this knowledge you should be able to make a sensible judgement as to whether you have the capacity to take on anything else.

Before making any decisions there are the 4 questions you should be asking yourself.

When is the deadline?

This is the first question you should ask as it helps you decide whether there is enough time to do the project. Here you are asking yourself whether there is space in your schedule to fit this project in. Equally asking this questions allows you to consider whether there are any existing projects you could move around in order to facilitate the one in question.

Asking for a deadline inadvertently forces you to ask yourself, do I have time to do this?

If you are struggling to fit this deadline around what’s already on your plate, the answer is no.

It’s time to politely decline that offer.

How much of my time will it take?

If the deadline of the project seems reasonable the next question you need to ask yourself is how much time and effort you need to dedicate to it.

Speaking from experience, balancing full-time work with my creative pursuits, often time an opportunity will arise with a deadline that seems quite far away. However it will involve several days in a particular month being dedicated to the project. I tend to limit such projects to a maximum of 2 a month because while the deadline is reasonable finding the time to dedicate to such ventures has proven very difficult.

If you don’t foresee having enough time to put your best foot forward with a project, it’s time to say no.

This brings me on to question number 3.

Can I balance this with the other things I have going on?

This question can be broken down into two sub-questions:

– Will the new project affect the quality of my other work?

– Can I complete this task to a high standard?

So you have established that the deadline is reasonable and you think the you have the time to dedicate to this project, but now you need to ask yourself if you can do so whilst maintaining the standards of your existing ventures.

Regardless of which of the creative industries you belong to everyone will tell you that consistency is key.

If your standards start to slip your audience will notice the difference.

This is where planning and keeping on top your work is essential.

If you cannot pursue this new project without compromising the standards of your other existing ventures it is time to say no.

Now for the final question.

Does this opportunity fit in with my brand?

Be careful with saying no flat-out here because sometimes the link is not immediately obvious. This is definitely something that is down to individual discretion and ultimately the point at which you have to trust your own intuition.

Regardless of how great the opportunity first appears, if it doesn’t fit in with your vision and what you are trying to achieve it might be time to politely decline.

Learning to say no is imperative for the maintenance of our wellbeing. Hopefully this post will help you to know when to say no and put yourself first.