It’s Okay to Say “I Can’t”

I started doing what will hopefully become regular creative freelance work last week.  When I first picked up what I’m working on, the shop owner said “see you in two weeks” and I told her that I wanted to try to get them done in one week and set a time to meet with her.  I had high hopes of having a fast turn around and bringing in oodles of cash to put towards savings and towards the business.

But as it turned out, I couldn’t do the job in one week.  I mean, I could have, if I had been willing to do a few all-nighters, but I couldn’t bring myself to wreak havoc on my system like that anymore.  It’s just not worth the stress.  And I was stressing.  I had this huge ball of it sitting on me.  I was stressing about the quality of my work.  I was stressing about my tools not working properly.  And I was stressing big time about not finishing the work in my self-imposed deadline.  I felt this intense pressure to perform, and I almost cracked beneath it.

I emailed the shop owner yesterday and told her that I do need the extra week.  And immediately, a lot of the stress lifted.  Over the next couple of months, as I gain confidence and get faster at my work, perhaps I can build up to a weekly turn around time, but if not, then that’s okay.

The trick to staying sane while trying to juggle many projects is being honest with yourself about what you can do, being kind to yourself when you need a break, and prioritizing your deadlines (whether they be actual deadlines from a client or self-imposed ones).  It’s like yoga, and you need to accept the present state of your body-mind.  There’s a time and a place for killing yourself over a project, but it shouldn’t be on a regular, weekly basis.  Life’s too short for that kind of stress.