Protect Your Time By Learning to Say “No”

Some choices you make about your time seem automatic. You probably spend a certain amount of time taking showers and performing basic self-care activities.  Everything else though, comes down to you determining priorities and making a choice.

It’d be wonderful if you were able to say “yes” to projects and people that fill you with excitement and deliver the best possible profit. But in order for that to happen, you’ll need to say “no” to a lot of lesser things.

Expect Invitations

People will invite you to spend time in a variety of ways for both personal and professional purposes.  Depending on the person making the request, you may feel pressure to comply.

Saying “no” may not feel easy.  Thoughts like these might run through your mind…

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

  • I want them to like me, so I’ll say yes.
  • I don’t want to let them down, so I’ll say yes.
  • I’m afraid they’ll fire me, so I better say Yes.
  • I’m afraid they will never ask me again, unless I always say yes (for my freelancing – this is my thought process!)
  • I’m hoping they’ll be grateful for my sacrifice, so I’m a reluctant yes.

What Do You Want?

Think back through your most recent ‘Yes’ decisions. If by saying yes, you’ve been making the decision entirely with the other person in mind, it’s time to shake things up a bit.

What if you included yourself in this process?

I realise, total self-interest isn’t right in every situation, but it does need to be part of the process or life is going to be rough.

Ask yourself some open-ended questions like these…

  • Do I want to do this? 
  • Is there a way I can say yes and enjoy it?
  • Is there a request I’d make in return?

How to Decline Invitations

If you’re a lifelong martyr and you always say “yes” to everything asked of you, saying “no” will be deeply uncomfortable. This can be done with kindness and gets easier. The formula is:  No + Appreciation.

  • No, thank you.
  • I appreciate you asking, I’m not interested in participating.
  • Thanks for the invite, I’m going to stay in tonight.
  • It’s good to be included in plans, it doesn’t feel like a fit for me though. Thanks for asking.
  • I’m glad you reached out, I love being recommended, however, I can’t take another client right now. (This one I have used with great success)
  • Thanks for offering me more work, my schedule is full though. Is this something we can schedule for next month?

Note, the formula is not: No + Appreciation + Excuse.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

You don’t have to provide a reason for saying no.  In fact, giving one only creates frustration in most cases because they may try to ‘solve’ your excuse.

You’re not responsible for how someone responds to your no, so waste no time worrying about it.  You’re taking responsibility and control of your time and that’s worth celebrating.

Remember, when you say no to something, it means you can say yes to something else that might excite you.

Here’s an idea: Buy a little journal and log in it every time you say no.  Jot down how it felt, what you worried about and anything else you think of. Over time, this journal will be a walk down memory lane. You’ll notice how much easier it gets and how much more in control you feel of your time.