Saying no (even when it hurts)
A few weeks ago I wrote about how business development executives need to model a healthy work life balance to retain talented junior staff. In response, quite a few folks said "Yes! But also, how?" In this competitive market it can be hard to say no to anything.
As a personal example, my consultant life isn't too far away from the business development life in house. It's feast or famine here. In a year where I didn't work for six weeks thanks to the furlough, it's really hard to say no to anything. I've been playing catch up all year, so when (suddenly but inevitably) all sorts of clients come knocking it's really easy to want to say yes to all of them.
But I can't.
I'm a one woman show over here. If I overcommit, I will be stressed. I will lose sleep. I'll probably injure my back again. My mental health will suffer. And above all those personal traumas, I won't be able to provide the kind of quality service for my clients that they deserve.
It can be really hard to be a one person company.
But guess what? You are in exactly the same position. Even if you work on a huge team, you are only one person. You only have 24 hours in a day - and you should spend 8 sleeping and 3 eating and a hour being active, so really you only have 12 hours a day. Not to mention time commuting and being social. Because you are a person and you deserve those things.
Become fierce with protecting your time.
One way to get started is simply to list out everything you need to be working on - personally and professionally. Having a clear list of everything you have on your plate makes it immediately clear if you don't have time for new projects. Once you have a list, prioritize it. I like to categorize by urgency and by difficulty. Then I look for three things I can take off the list. Maybe they come back later, but if they aren't urgent, I don't need to worry about them now.
This works for me and it can work for you too.