The Art of Saying No by Cindy Stradling CSP, CPC

Nearly all professionals lead really busy lives, managing multiple priorities at home and at work. It’s easy to let yourself get spread too thin, if you don’t master the art of saying no.

There are many reasons we say yes to things that we don’t really have time to do. Sometimes, we say yes because we don’t have a good grasp on how our time is spent, so we don’t really know that we are over committing. However, sometimes we say yes to things we don’t really have time for because we simply have trouble saying no, out of guilt or fear of letting someone down.

However, when we over commit ourselves, we often fail to do a really good job at any of the tasks we attempt. It is important to remember that it is better to do a few things really well than to do many things but do these poorly.

To help you determine which things you should say yes to and which you should weed out of your life, make a list of the things you are dedicated to supporting. In addition to your business, consider things in your home life and your community that you are passionate about. Perhaps you find it very important to volunteer at your child’s school, or you love to work with your local animal shelter. Those things are important to your personal happiness. In addition, it’s important to schedule enough time with your family and friends to properly maintain those relationships.

Once you have your list, write down the amount of time you believe you need to devote to each of these areas each week. Once you’re finished, you can easily see whether or not you have any time left in your week to take on additional activities. When your schedule is full, it’s full. If there are other activities you’d like to pursue, think about when your schedule will permit you to add these activities, but don’t commit until your schedule is really free. For example, if you volunteer at your child’s school during the school year, you could put a different activity into that timeslot over the summer when your child is on summer vacation.

By having this kind of control over your schedule, you will feel less guilty about saying no to other things, because you will truly understand where your time goes, and how much you have left over. This is when you know you have mastered the fine art of saying no.