Most people find themselves stretched very thin between commitments with home, family and volunteer work. Yet even as busy as we are, we often find it difficult to say “no” when asked to take on another task. It is important to learn to say “no” decisively and unapologetically when we have no more bandwidth for more projects. Here are some tips to help you.
- You don’t owe anyone an explanation. We are programmed to believe that we must explain and apologize when we must refuse something that is asked of us. However, we have no real obligation to explain why we don’t feel we should take on another project, and we don’t owe anyone an apology unless it is something we previously committed to.
- You can’t do a good job at anything if you’re spread too thin. You may actually be doing the group a favor by turning them down if you already have too many commitments. If it makes you feel better, suggest someone you think would be a good person to take on the task you don’t have time for. But remember that it is better to turn a group down than to say “yes” and do a poor job.
- Evaluate your commitments regularly. Keep a detailed calendar so that you know exactly where you’re spending your time. This will help you to have a realistic picture of your current commitments and where, if any, there is room for something additional.
- Remember to have “down time.” Too many commitments make it difficult for you to take the time to recharge your batteries. However, doing so helps you to be better at everything you do. A little time away brings a new perspective that can help you solve problems and renew your commitment to all your activities.
Saying no to activities you don’t have the time or talent is nothing to be embarrassed about. When you choose your commitments wisely, you can spend your time where it is the most beneficial and where you can offer the most value.