Episode 054: How to Know When to Say NO


Show Notes

Hey babes! This is a big one. Today I want to talk about the value of saying no. It's so important to have the word "no" in your vocabulary. And by that, I mean not saying yes to everything or even things you've already committed to. Start getting comfortable saying no. It’s essential for your mental health and your business health.



About Michelle

Michelle Lynne began her interior design career after spending more than two decades working in Corporate America. She began in the home staging arena and has since built a successful, award-winning, full-service interior design firm, employing talented designers and serving clients across the country.

In the summer of 2018, Michelle began focusing on a big gap she saw missing in the interior design industry: teaching interior designers how to run the business of an interior design business. She now engages in private coaching and leads an in-depth, 12-month group coaching program, both options focus on teaching designers profitable processes, systems, strategies and mindset needed to run a streamlined, profitable interior design firm.

Her motto is simple: we rise by lifting others.


Connect with Michelle

You can follow Michelle on Instagram or join her Free Facebook Community! You can learn more about Michelle's program, Designed for the Creative Mind right here. You can also learn more about Michelle's Interior Design Firm here.


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Hey, y'all, welcome back to the podcast. I am so excited to be here. It's just me this time, and today I want to talk about the value of saying no. Not necessarily just to clients, but let's start with that. Oftentimes, we feel like everything that the client asks for is something that we need to say yes and make happen. 

But oftentimes, the client who is asking for something doesn't know that what they're asking for is not the best solution. And it's our responsibility to say no, so I'm gonna give you a quick example there. But then I'm really going to dig into what I want to talk about from more of a personal standpoint, as well as professional but having to do with our own individual no's. 

Debbie, one of my senior designers, is currently working with a client who wants to create a spa-like bathroom, and have more of a wet area or a shower that doesn't really have any glass. And as we go through the different configurations in the bathroom, it's really just not realistic. 

Also, because she has 15 foot ceilings in her bathroom, if she doesn't have some sort of an enclosed shower, the way the space is set up, then it's just not going to retain any sense of warmth while she's showering. So we're coming up with other solutions. But at the end of the day, what she wants without the major renovation that we know she doesn't need, it's just not going to be feasible. 

So sometimes, it's just as important to tell your clients no than it is to tell them yes, because at the end of the day, if we were to give her what she thinks she wants, she would be disappointed. So it's our job to re-educate her as to why what she wants isn't going to work. And we're going to give her the option of the major renovation, but also come up with some other solutions that should be satisfactory in the meantime. So that's just kind of a side note. 

What I really wanted to come on to today and talk about with you is that it's important to have the word "no" in your vocabulary. And by that I mean that you don't have to say yes to everything or even everything that you're committed to. 

What brought this to mind, for me in particular, was last week. It was spring break here in Texas and my little hurricane, Genevieve, my three and a half year old daughter was home from school. I had run out of pre-recorded content for this podcast. We record episodes a couple couple weeks in advance, sometimes a couple months just depends on how far ahead we can get. And technically, I was supposed to record a solo podcast last week, and I just decided no, I wasn't going to. 

It was hard for me to say no. But once I said no, and I made that decision that I'm not going to fulfill my commitment, then it was freeing. I felt very liberated because I didn't have that circling over my head while I was playing with my daughter or trying to get some work done while she was at gymnastics camp or, you know, some of the other things that were very, very pending. 

So I want to share with you a little bit of a tool, and I might have shared it in another episode or on a blog or somewhere before, but it's kind of a measure of how I make some of these decisions when I'm asking myself can I say no? Can I not say no? Is it important to say no? Is it not important to say no?

Because at the end of the day, just remember you cannot pour from an empty cup. It's important for us as business owners, as friends, as partners, as wives, as mothers, as sisters. There are so many roles that we have. We have to make sure that we're maintaining our own physical and mental health in order to operate at our best level. 

So saying no last week to the podcast, which is something that I love to do. I mean, hell, who doesn't love just sitting here and giving you my opinion? Who doesn't love sitting around giving their own opinion? So I was sad to say no.

The measure or the matrix or whatever you want to call it, here's how I go about measuring what I say yes to, what I say no to, and how I prioritize a lot of the things that are basically going to be required. 

There's four different buckets that they fall into.

The first bucket is it’s not urgent and not important. Think about this for when you're planning your day. A lot of tasks and a lot of projects fall into the category of it's not important or it's not urgent. Think about some of the emails that are just sitting in your inbox. Yet you still feel like you have to go through your inbox and address every single one of them. Can you just delete it? Do you need to say no, thank you to everybody who's trying to get you to do whatever? So if it's not urgent, and it's not important, feel free to say no. 

Okay, bucket number two is if it's urgent, but not important. What I mean by that is, is it urgent to you or is it urgent to somebody else? Is it somebody just trying to spin you around trying to get what they want, even though it is costing you some sanity, some time or whatever. Urgent, but not important. 

So there's two of the four buckets. Not important and not urgent is one, urgent and not important is the second. 

Then there's the third bucket. Important and urgent. Now oftentimes, we're flying by the seat of our pants, and it's urgent and important, probably because we've over committed ourselves, overbooked ourselves, taken on too many projects, underestimated the amount of time a project would take, or the attention a client would need. 

If it's important and urgent, that's what sucks the joy out of a lot of our jobs. So that could be meeting the receiver to let them into a client home who's traveling. And you booked it weeks ago, but then you booked a client appointment before or after it and then they're running late. So that is what gives you anxiety. Think about what stresses you out. Oftentimes, it's urgent and important. 

The fourth bucket is it's important but not urgent. Now, this is the sweet spot. When you are working on things that are important, but not urgent. That means that you are working in the zone of your genius, and you've given yourself enough time to implement it. 

Think about that glorious client design that you just have so much fun doing while you're still being efficient, and you're not just wasting time and lollygagging. You're getting stuff done. But you've also set expectations with the client that it's going to take you X number of weeks or months to get it done. 

So you don't have them breathing down your neck, you haven't told them that you could have it to them within four weeks, when it's really an eight week design project. You've given yourself that space to breathe. It's important but it's not urgent. You haven't backed yourself into a corner saying that you would have it done in four weeks. 

So let's take a look at those four buckets.

  1. Not important not urgent
  2. Urgent, but not important
  3. Important and urgent
  4. Important but not urgent.

These are four categories that you can pretty much drop any task or project into. Measure it, analyze it, and determine where it falls on your day-to-day task list, where it falls on your week-to-week task list, and your month-to-month task list, or if you're ever going to get it done at all. 

So that's where, last week, when I really wanted to record a podcast, I went back and tried to practice what I preach. This is what I teach my team, Debbie and Megan and Nicole, when it comes down to taking a look at getting their things organized. 

I didn't practice what I preach. Recording a podcast was not important, and it wasn't urgent. What was important was spending time with my daughter. What was important was getting some of the other money making tasks done that had to be done while she was at gymnastics camp. 

So years ago, I would have struggled with the fact that I quote, unquote, dropped the ball. But what ball did I drop? Did I let anybody down? Was anybody waiting with bated breath for my next podcast to drop? No. 

So when you have these tasks that you have committed to, society says that if you commit to something, and this is just integrity, if you commit to something, then you follow through with it. But what if you've over committed? Should I have not done some of the tasks that were client-related and not give them deliverables when they were expecting it, versus recording a podcast? 

So look at your list of things to do, look at the things that are stressing you out, and drop them into the four buckets of prioritization. Then go through and analyze the things that you don't need to be doing anymore. 

And heck, on another topic, take a look at the things that you can be outsourcing. So, side note, whenever you're listening to this, I will be giving a webinar on business of home, May the 11th talking about outsourcing and the CEO mindset. This falls into part of that. You are the CEO of your business, you are the CEO of your life, you are the CEO of your body. You make choices that are in the best interest of each of those.

You're the CEO, or you're the CO CEO, with your partner if you're married, running a household. But you know what you can handle. Because, again, if you're running yourself ragged, you're not doing anybody a favor. Look at the reason why. Are you doing it to be a martyr? Because so many times we think that being busy is a sign of honor, a sign of superiority, and a sign of success. 

Y'all, I would much rather follow Tim Ferriss and his 4-hour workweek idea and be successful, than  a 44-hour workweek and be successful, wouldn't you? Who says we have to be busy in order to be successful? Who says we have to do it all and be all? 

Going down a tangent. My daughter's fourth birthday is coming up in June. We've gone to a couple of the kids' birthday parties this year from her new school. I'm looking around going my poor kid. I'm not one of those Pinterest moms. 

You know, I'm not sure what we're going to do for her fourth birthday. But I'm not going to be the one who needs to get out there and have the best birthday party. You know, is it for her? Or is it for me? Is it for bragging rights? Because I out Pinterest-ed another mom? Is it so that I can post it on Instagram and get people saying how cool it is? 

What's important? What's important is that my daughter feels loved, that she can celebrate with people who love her, and that she knows that the day is all about her. She's not gonna remember the fancy goodie bags, or all the decorations. I mean, she will. 

But figure out what's important and what's urgent. Figure out where your priorities lie. Is it more important for you to spend an extra 30 minutes sleeping in every morning or going to bed a little bit earlier? Or is it more important to obsess over all the details of the birthday party, the outfit you're going to wear, or the project that you're putting together that's pretty damn good but you want to make it perfect. 

I'll tell you what perfection is. Perfection is perception. If you are obsessing about an item on a project, a lamp, to just finish the room off rooms. You just want that perfect lamp, so you're going to go spend six hours looking for the perfect lamp. This is where you need to just say no. It's important but it's not urgent. 

The entirety of the room is important but not urgent. If you're getting down to the wire and you're still looking for that perfect lamp and you're going over the estimated number of hours that you need to be spending in order to remain profitable, this is where you just say no and you take care of yourself.  

That's your mental health. That's your business health. And health, in my experience, that thing that you obsess over to try to get anyway, is the one thing the client wants to have a change order for. 

So just keep things in perspective. Say no to all of the extraneous. If it doesn't fuel your soul, it's not important. And I know we can find things to argue about that with, but just on a quick podcast note, that's my message to you. 

Don't feel like you have to say yes to everything. Start getting comfortable saying no. Say no to your clients when they're asking you to do the virtually impossible. Tell them, heck, I don't want to disappoint you and embarrass myself. No, that's not a good idea. 

Let's talk about things that stress you out. An example of mine is going over for Thanksgiving. And I know we're in the middle of March and I'm talking about Thanksgiving, but my in-laws. They all love to cook and they're all very good cooks. 

So they asked me to bring something over. I'm a good cook, but I don't always have time to cook everything that I'm supposed to bring over. So there's a couple things that I make homemade, and other stuff, y'all, I just go to the market here and buy green beans almondine, put them in a pan, and take them over. 

I don't tell them I made it. If they ask, I'll tell them that I didn't make it. But why should I bust my ass trying to cook, and bake, and do all the things while I have to run a couple of businesses, and be a mom, and be a wife? 

Something has to give. And I don't want it to be my mental health or my physical health. Is that selfish? No. So get comfortable saying no. Get comfortable prioritizing into those four buckets. 

I'm going to repeat them one more time. I hope you write them down. 

First one is not important and not urgent. There's a lot of shit we do every day that's not important and not urgent. 

And there's stuff that's urgent but not important. Is it urgent because it's urgent to you? Or is it urgent because somebody else has made it urgent for you? 

If it's important and urgent, these are the things that we want to get out ahead of in advance. Prioritize them weeks, if not days or months, before so that they aren't important and urgent. That's when you're just running fire drills. 

And then finally, the most rewarding space to work within is the important but not urgent space. For example, I'm recording my podcast today, right now, in between some other conversations that I'm having. This is fun. There's no stress, I get a chance to give you a TED talk. 

So anyway, I hope that this gives you some breathing room. I hope that you give yourself permission to say no or at least maybe not now. I'm still recording the podcast as an example. I didn't say no completely. I said no, I'm not going to do it this week, but I will happily do it next week. So here I am. Mom, if you're the only one who missed that podcast, you know, I'm taking care of myself. 

And for the rest of you, join me in my Facebook group. It's called the Interior Designers Business Launchpad. And yeah, yeah, I know it's Facebook, but it's a great place to have a large group where we can interact. 

We talk a lot about business, processes, and procedures. I go live once a week and talk about a variety of different things. So you can just catch all sorts of little nuggets from a variety of different locations. 

And while you're at it, while you're here, listening to the podcast, if you would drop a review, wherever you're listening. I would really appreciate it. It really does help the podcast and its relevance. 

So until next time, thanks for joining me.

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