When was the last time you said “No”?
This is a lesson I have to keep teaching myself, because (for some unknown reason) I keep forgetting this simple concept that everyone should know:
You can’t pour coffee for everyone when your kettle is empty!
This doesn’t just apply to business. It applies to EVERYTHING!
You are a kettle. You need time to be filled up with water and boil before you can pour anyone the tasty, caffeinated goodness that they are so desperately craving. But… if you have run out of water or coffee granules, you need time to top up and those caffeine addicts are just going to have to chill.
Maybe it’s after hours and all the stores are closed, so you won’t be serving coffee AT ALL? That is totally okay. If your friend makes you feel bad about this, your friend’s a bitch.
I am clearly a bit of a slow learner. I like making people happy, so I am generally happy to go the extra mile to help someone out. I like to think it’s because I am a nice human being, but it always plays out in the same way:
1. Me, having said “Yaaasss! Of course I can help you with your ‘little’ thing. Nooo! I know times are tough, so I won’t charge you!”
The sad part is that I genuinely do want to help these people out. 99% of all the times this comes out of my mouth is because this is for a good friend/family member/favourite client/worthy charity. I will NEVER do this for clients I hate (because f%ck those guys!).
2. I accidentally repeat step 1,
several times in a week, which results in hours of time being taken out of my day for these “quick” favours.
3. I find myself STILL working, at 3am, going “WHHHHYYYYYY did you do this AGAAAAAAIIIINNNN, Dumbass!?!”
Here are some of the hard lessons I have had to learn from this 3 step process:
1. If they ARE your friends or good clients, they will be happy to pay full price for your services.
If they are not happy to pay, then they don’t see the value in your work and shouldn’t be asking you in the first place.
2. If it’s for a charity or a good cause, you have to remember that you are not the only one helping this cause.
If it is going to put unnecessary strain on you, YOU CAN SAY “NO”! You will not cause the African children to all starve to death, you will not be held responsible for global warming and you will not be the reason a rare species of fish are being over-fished. Make sure you are not going extinct first.
3. Charge for “quick” changes.
These “little” things add up and can take hours out of your work day.
4. Work to a schedule.
I write my day schedules in my diary, so that when people do ask me for a “small favour”, my diary scares the shit out of me and it’s easier to say “not today, but maybe next Tuesday?”.
5. You can’t help everyone.
You will just wear yourself out.
I try to keep a handle on over-extending my own helpfulness with give-a-phuck rocks (“Gaps” for short). I allocate 3 “Gaps” a week. These are the only “give-a-phucks” I have to give. After this, there are no more “Gaps” to give. See what I am getting to here?
Every time I say “yes” to a favour, it uses up one of the “Gaps”. If it’s a big favour, it uses two. In fact, I usually use all of these by Tuesday. After they are gone, I have no more “give-a-phucks”. My rocks will only come out again next week and I will decide who I want to delegate them to then. This way, I know I have been helpful and given back to someone in some way, but I am also aware of not over-extending myself.
I gave all 3 of my “Gaps” away today.
All of them. One day. And now I am tired, but I am also an idiot, because I had previously scheduled my “Gaps” for this week already, and they were not the ones I gave away today.
*Let’s out sigh and takes a sip of Cinnabon Hug in a Mug (which you TOTALLY have to try! It’s amazing!).
I can only hope that these lessons sink in for good, one of these days.
Until then, I will have to put a hold on pouring coffee for anyone again until my kettle is replenished. I need my current water for my Cinnabon Hug-in-a-mug…
So, if you need a “quick favour” this week, my answer is “NO!”. And I don’t even feel bad.
Anyway, I want to hear from YOU!
What do you do to keep your kettle full and prevent yourself from over-extending?