Time management doesn’t always involve Doing Something.
In fact, an important aspect of Time Management is knowing how NOT to Do Something.
For example, you’re asked to do something you don’t really want to do or have time for, but you feel guilty saying No. So you agree to do it…and then feel overwhelmed and maybe even resentful.
But saying No is not being uncooperative. It’s recognizing your limits and acknowledging you have a finite amount of time. You don’t want to do a sloppy job by overwhelming yourself. It’s also being selective in what you choose to do because you don’t want to take away from the truly important things in your life.
So how can you say No nicely and without guilt? David Posen in his Little Book of Stress Relief says, most of the time, you don’t even have to use the word No.
- Express your wish to help: “I’d like to do that for you, but I’m not taking on new projects at the moment.”
- Give an explanation: “I have an appointment” or “I have another commitment.” No need to get personal.
- Offer an alternative: “I won’t be able to do it, but I can show you how to do it.”
- Suggest someone else for the task: “I think Ashley would be better suited for that, and I know she loves to do (those kinds of things).
- Admit your limitations: “I don’t have experience in that, so I can’t help you” or “I’m not comfortable with that.”
- Offer to do it later: “I can’t help you now, but I can do it next week.”
- Offer to do a part: “I’d be happy to do this part for you.”
- Ask for the priority: “I’m in the middle of several projects; which one would you like me to set aside to do this?”
- Give yourself time to think about it: “Can I get back to you? I’ll have to check my schedule” or “I’ve had a few things come up and need to deal with those first.”
- The simplest way to say No is to smile and say: “No, but thanks for asking” without launching into why. Besides, most people aren’t really interested in your busyness – they’re too busy themselves.
So, evaluate and come to terms with your limits: what you’re able to do, what you’re willing to do, and what you want to do. After that, don’t hesitate to say No without guilt. You’ll have more time to enjoy the things you really want to do.
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