It’s OK to Say No to More Work
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There is no “me” in the team
I am a freelance writer and editor with a current position that I really enjoy. My problem: this department likes team building. In a bi-weekly meeting, the senior manager brought us together to discuss a “fun” issue and reported back through a discussion forum. Since I’m listed as an optional attendee for this meeting, I stopped going. I hate this kind of forced corporate unit.
When I am not attending these meetings, the other person assigned to me will contact me later and ask to do the discussion. I accepted twice. I’ve spent 30 minutes in a chat outside of work. I don’t think I can charge ethically on my bill.
This company relies heavily on contractors to do their jobs and prides itself on treating us “like employees”. I fear being seen as “anti-team”. That’s not inaccurate, of course, but could it hurt my chances of continuing as an entrepreneur in a job that I enjoy? The editing and proofreading I provide is appreciated; they said it! Why are hugs with the team considered so important that I wonder if I’ll be kept for what I’m paid to provide? I’m not sure if I feel authorized to draw limits entirely based on what I’m comfortable charging. What should I do?
– Anonymous, Chicago
Work is work, whether it is proofreading or participating in team building activities. Reduce your billing discomfort and bill the company accordingly for all the time spent doing team building and other mandatory fun activities. This kind of obligatory fun seems to be the core of this company’s culture, so you need to decide if you can tolerate it. You are paid fairly. Your work is respected. You like your job. It’s not such a bad circumstance. That said, your limits are important, so if you really want to freelance for companies where there is no mandatory fun, now is the time to find another job.
Daily business briefing
Burn, Baby, Burnout
I started a very successful business 11 years ago. The demand has been overwhelming. I have a few good team members, but because the whole industry is booming, I can’t hire enough good people to keep pace, and I don’t expect this condition to happen. end so soon. I say ‘no’ to a lot of potential clients and am already good at setting boundaries around my weekends and pursuing my hobbies, but I always find myself resenting every new client request and trying to give quick solutions instead of creative solutions. I really want to get away.
My business coach, lawyer, and most trusted consultant all think there has to be a way to get my work scaled down where I charge more and set more limits. I’m ready to try this, but it will probably take me a year to get out of the hole I’m in.
Should I stop? Take a sabbatical? How can I adjust my attitude so that I’m not miserable and doing a bad job over the next year or so while waiting to see if I can implement changes that keep this demand under control?
– Anonymous, Philadelphia
Congratulations on your success! It is important to take burnout seriously. You cannot adjust your attitude to get out of burnout. You can’t stop burnout a year later. You’ve been working really hard and you need a break now, so take this break. The respite will allow you to return to that job refreshed and able to do your best job. Take a sabbatical. Tell yourself, as often as you need to, that the business will be waiting for you when you are ready to return. The world will continue to turn while you are gone. Throw money on the problem i.e. if you offer a sufficiently competitive salary you will find people to keep the business afloat while you make time for yourself.