Throughout our lives, we have been taught that saying yes is how we will find success. Saying yes to our responsibilities is something we should do, but saying yes to everything is a recipe for disaster. Learning to prioritize where our time and energy goes is the first step in deciding what tasks and projects we can take on, and learning when to say no.
Over-commitment is a problem for many of us. We do not want to close the door on opportunities, and we want people to be happy with us, so saying no is difficult. When we over burden ourselves with busy work, we leave ourselves no time to do meaningful work. Learning to respect our limits is not shirking responsibility — it is having self-respect.
We look to successful people and wonder how they do it. The truth is we all have the same 24 hours in a day, we must choose how to spend it wisely. Time is your greatest resource.
I spend a couple of hours each day growing my business. I must say no to something else in order to have the time to do this. Things that get in the way of that, like aimlessly surfing the internet or watching TV get kicked to the curb.
I also have to say no to things that seem helpful, but are unsustainable, like working into the wee hours on a daily basis. It’s important to have room in your routine for healthy habits like proper diet and sleep, so that you can do the best work possible. Having enough time and energy to continue my professional development also helps me deliver the best work possible to my clients.
For those people who work on a team or in an office, being able to say no is also important. Being a people-pleaser is a slippery slope. In an office setting, if you are not familiar with a routine, or you are already overloaded and you say yes to a colleague request, that is akin to dishonesty. It isn’t fair to you or your teammate. It is better just to say you are not familiar with that procedure or have several other deadlines that cannot be pushed back.
There are several reason people refuse to say no. They may be scared they will lose their job, or people will be angry with them. Teammates in a good workplace will understand if you explain the reasons you cannot fulfill their request. Setting reasonable boundaries for yourself is also a survival skill.
Your health and sanity are important, protect them by not overloading yourself. Saying no isn’t about being unfair, it’s about realizing what you can and cannot do and managing expectations.