How to say no when working from home

Last July, I was able to leave my full-time job to turn my side hustle into my main source of income. Grayson did the same thing with his business in November of last year. Since then, I have enjoyed a lot of success in building my freelance business, but like with any kind of business, I have also experienced some lows, made some mistakes, and learned some things along the way.

One thing I learned is that I love working from home. I can work when I want and take time off whenever I want as long as I plan for the time away so my work gets done. But there are drawbacks as well, such as how to say “no” when you work from home.

It can be difficult to deal with friends and family members who don’t understand what you do or how you make money working from home in your pajamas. To them, it appears that you have all the time in the world to do favors and errands, when in reality you may find yourself working far more hours as an entrepreneur than you ever did in your day job.

If you find yourself in this situation, rest assured you are not alone. Here are some tips for how to handle friends, family members, and clients who expect you to drop what you are doing to help them because in their eyes you don’t have a “real job”.

Realize that Saying “No” is Ok

Trying to be superhuman is exhausting. You need to realize you can’t do all the things or you are going to stress yourself to your breaking point. Sometimes saying no is OK and it’s important to realize that. One person can only do so much before getting burned out. That’s not a way to run your own business.

Know the Consequences of Your Answer

Saying yes and not following through on a task can hurt your reputation. You don’t want to be seen as unreliable. However, before you decline a task, think about what could happen if your answer is no. Could you instead ask for more time to complete the job? Will saying no get you the reputation of not being willing to go the extra mile for your clients? Or if you say no to your friends and family too often, they may start to think you love your business more than them.

On the other hand, there are consequences of saying yes too. You simply can’t say yes to everything. Even when you think you are saying yes to every opportunity that comes your way, you really aren’t. Saying yes to every new client, task, or social outing with friends and family means you are saying no to other things like downtime for yourself, or a full night’s sleep. Think carefully before you say yes or no.

Give an Alternative

If you can’t complete a favor that is expected of you, give the person who has requested your help an alternative for when you can help. For instance, help your friend paint her living room next week if you can’t squeeze it into your schedule this week. Or, offer to find someone else to help them if you really aren’t available. When you provide options it shows that you are genuinely trying to help in other ways instead of flat out saying no to something.

Choose Different Phrasing

Instead of flat out saying no, try saying something else that compliments the person asking for your help. “Thank you for your confidence in my abilities for this task. However, I do have several other projects I am working on right now, which means I wouldn’t be able to fully commit myself to this new task.”

Something along those lines lets your friend or family member know you feel their request is important enough that you want it to be done well, but you simply don’t have the time to complete it right now.

Saying no to someone can be stressful. But learning how to say no when you work from home by using the right tactics can help you stay true to yourself, your family, and your clients so you can continue to provide the quality work you are known for.


Do you have other tips for saying “no”?

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