Learning to say NO is a key principle of time management.
Every day we are bombarded with requests large and small: from loved ones; from friends and neighbors; from potential clients, from co-workers, bosses, and employees; and from people we hardly know or don’t know at all.
Frequently you should say Yes.
But you must also learn when to say No, and then actually say No.
Why Should You Say No?
Because you have your own priorities, your own deadlines, your own life. While minding important responsibilities — like those to your family, for instance — you must also keep time for what makes you happy and what excites you.
And Time Is What Saying No Is About
Say No and you have more time for everything that is important to you.
Say Yes and you have less time, and you may also feel dragged down psychologically from having one more task on your to-do list, plus some guilt for not standing up for what you want. And more stress.
So you must value yourself and your time and your goals, and always keep your needs in mind whenever someone asks you to do something.
6 Tips For Saying No
- Don’t just say the single word No, which will seem rude to many people.
- Be polite but firm.
- Don’t be overly apologetic. You can say, “I’m sorry, but I can’t do this because…” and leave it at that.
- Tell people that you have all the work or commitments you can handle right now.
- Tell people you need enough personal time for yourself.
- Prevent requests you’ll need to decline by telling people that your schedule is full for the next day, week, or month.
And 4 tips specifically for self-employed people — say No to:
- Projects that don’t pay what you want.
- Projects you dread doing.
- People that are unpleasant to work with.
- Projects you don’t have time for.
My biggest problem has been that last one: saying Yes to projects I don’t have time for. It’s hard for me to turn down work that pays well or that I think will help me build a relationship with an important client. I’ve almost always met the deadlines, but sometimes at the price of long work days, little time off, and increased stress.
1. Practice saying No. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. If necessary, take some time when you are alone and practice saying No in different typical scenarios.
2. Think about a recent time you should have said No, but didn’t. How did you feel, both during the request and when you were complying with the request? What would you have done with your time if you had said No?
Do you need to say No more? What will you now say No to?