by Teresa Hawthorne
It’s a struggle to decide. You don’t want to appear self-centered. You also dread dealing with the anticipated disappointment you may cause if you say no. Great for the person or thing you say yes to. But, what price are you paying for not saying no?
Picture this day in the life of a person who doesn’t say no.
It’s your turn to carpool the kids to school. You go to work, pick up the dry cleaning on your lunch hour, and you leave work later than planned. You rush to the grocery store after work, because someone decided this morning that they wanted tacos for dinner, and you can’t have Taco Tuesday without taco shells. After dinner, your phone alarm goes off. It’s a reminder you need to be at your friend’s house in 30 minutes for the first meeting of the book club she started. Finally home for the evening, you remember you wanted to get started on the essay required for your graduate school application.
Does your essay get started? No, because you’re exhausted and overwhelmed by the day, and all you have the energy for is checking your social feeds. Optimistic for a different kind of day, you tell yourself you’ll get to the essay…tomorrow.
With a repeat of the same the next day, the essay will get put off, again, until…tomorrow.
Now, substitute the elements of this situation with whatever causes you to have this kind of day. If you get the same result—your goals being squeezed into the time you have leftover or postponed altogether—it’s a sign that your schedule and how you handle your priorities could use an overhaul. And if you make no changes to what you do and what you don’t do each day, reaching your goals will continue to be put off.
How do you make changes to ensure you have enough time for your goals? Start saying no to the things that take you away from your priorities.
Easier said than done, I know.
Here’s what you can do.
Schedule Your Priorities First
Take control over what you do with your day. If you don’t control it, the demands of others will. A great way to be in control is to plan your day. With your priorities in mind, take some time the night before or first thing in the morning to write out your to-do list for the day. Block off time for the priorities you’ve identified, and if time allows, then include any extras.
Setting a course for your day in advance will prevent the extras from sending you in a direction away from your goals. When you have a plan and are committed to sticking to it, it becomes easier to say no to things that fall outside of your priorities.
Weigh Your Choices
Your time is not unlimited. You only get so much time each day to handle your business. When deciding what to do and what not to do with your time, you should consider the following:
Answering no to any of these questions is an indication you should probably say no to doing the thing. And your answers to these questions can serve as your direct, but graceful, response to a request. If going to this week’s book club meeting will keep you from completing your graduate school application, for instance, let your friend know you won’t make it this week because you’ve scheduled the time to finish your application.
Saying no is less difficult when you evaluate the things competing for your time. With your priorities in mind, you can quickly weigh your choices, choose the ones that align with your goals, and continue working on what you deem important.
Make Your Priorities Known
Share your priorities with the people around you. Let others know what things matter to you, what you are working toward, and the time frame you’ve set for accomplishing your goals. By equipping others with this information, you are training them to expect you to say no to a request because they know you have already scheduled your time.
When you make your priorities known, you are likely to receive fewer demands for your time, and consequently, you won't be faced with having to say no as often.
As you make more time for the things most important to you, remember that giving your yes to one thing means you are giving a no to something else. When deciding what to do or what not to do, it’s helpful to take a pause and evaluate whether you are working toward your goals or someone else’s. If your goals will be the things you won't have enough time for, by all means, start saying no.
Leave a comment to let us know what things you intend to start saying no to.
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Here’s to Having ~ More Time. More Space. More Life