Saying ‘NO’ to the Wrong Project

Freelance Project

Freelance Project

As a freelancer, you are in charge when it comes to accepting offers on various projects. However, sometimes it can be difficult to choose, because every project brings something different in terms of time, money, and experience. Unfortunately, some projects might just not be worth it.


There are several aspects of the issue that need to be considered. First of all, will the project help you in terms of experience? Will the project look good on your resume, and thus help you receive future projects? If you need to work with outdated technology, doing a repetitive task, chances are you won’t gain new skills along the way. Most of the times, an upgrade project is much more interesting than a project involving old technologies. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule; mainframe specialists still have pretty good jobs, despite the fact that the technology they work with should have been put to death years ago. In the SAP integration world, PO BPMN and HCI projects seems to be quite hot at present.


After considering the aspect of experience, you need to look the metaphorical elephant in the room straight into the eye, and address the ever-present issue of money. Even if we don’t like talking about the financial side of our jobs, at the end of the day, we work to provide a livelihood for ourselves and our loved ones. Ask yourself whether you’ll get a decent rate for your work. Is the payment worth your while?


You need motivation for any project – it can be either something you really like, or something that pays a really good rate.


Will you have the opportunity of using your specialised skillset? Do you find yourself thinking about all the details of the project before even starting the actual work? Then congratulations, you have just found the motivation you needed.


I can honestly say that I really enjoy doing architecture-type projects, where I get to design a lot of the infrastructure, and improve SAP PO integrations; however, when I’m asked to just follow some guidelines created by others and mass-produce mappings, I negotiate a higher rate. Work is not always pleasant, there’s no denying it. Consequently, whenever you are about to accept an uninteresting project, at least make sure you are paid well.


Some of you might wear rose-tinted sunglasses and ask: ‘why should I accept ANY uninteresting jobs?’ The answer is simple: sometimes you just have to. Sometimes, there’s a shortage of new offers, and paychecks are handed out to you for tedious work in return. If you can afford being without a project for a few months, then you are of those lucky freelancers who can say ‘no’ anytime they want. However, most freelancers cannot afford to be out of work for extended periods of time.


What I suggest is that you accept projects that lead to either financial or intellectual gain. It is your right to say ‘no’, just as it is your right to negotiate a higher rate.


Before reaching a decision, also consider the time that you’ll need to invest in the new project. Never forget that your family also needs you – nurturing these bonds requires time. If you end up jumping straight into bed at the end of every day, ignoring your family, chances are the project just isn’t worth it. I am aware of the fact that the concept of work-life balance is so over-debated, it has become a cliche; you can’t spend all your time next to your loved ones, and as much as you like being paid at the end of the week/month, you cannot spend every night working extra hours either, lest you wish to experience complete burnout. The balance between one’s working hours and free time needs to be established individually; just make sure you don’t end up doing a sloppy job at your workplace – or at home.


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