When working with clients during time management consultations, I am often asked about my best time management tip. Saying “no” often is truly the best way to create more time in your life for the things you enjoy.
You do not need to say “no” to everything, just to those activities and tasks that do not help you achieve your goals. When assessing where your time goes, most people are trying to fit too much into their schedule. Cutting back on low priority commitments will help you to spend your time more wisely.
Backing out of tasks you are already involved in can be difficult. It is best to find someone else to take on these responsibilities and slowly taper off your involvement. If there’s a volunteer commitment you need to drop, kindly explain how or why you’re making changes to your schedule and try to part on good terms.
In addition to cutting back on current commitments, learning to politely say “no” and decline future requests can help you take better control of your time. When asked to take on a new task or activity, do not immediately say “yes” or “no”. Tell the person that you will think about it and get back to them soon. Assess the pros and cons of doing this activity, and how and where it will fit into your current schedule. Then think about whether or not this task aligns with your current goals and priorities. At that time, the answer should be clear to you.
Being a people-pleaser and saying “yes” to all requests can make you feel good, but in order to create the life you want, you need to say “no” sometimes. There is most likely someone else who may better learn or benefit from the opportunity. Remember that dropping unnecessary items from your schedule will free up that time to do the things that you enjoy and help you reach your life goals.