The Power of Saying No

Finding the time to do everything we want to do is impossible for most people. But there is a simple way to find more time. Embrace the habit of saying NO.

Saying yes

Saying yes to every demand guarantees we will run out of time and won’t be able to do the things that matter the most. When we say yes to a request from someone else it may be to suit their agenda and not our own. Having the insight and guts to say no is one of the most useful things we can do, as it creates the extra time and space needed to retain control and remain unrushed. When we agree to go to a meeting or make a presentation or meet for lunch we immediately commit to giving away a huge amount of time. We also reduce the chance of achieving our goals when we engage in something that isn’t a priority. Time spent on unnecessary activities takes away from time spent immersed in useful work and with family and friends. When we’re asked to do something our inclination is often to say yes because we fear letting someone down or missing an opportunity. But fear isn’t a good enough reason to avoid saying no. It is always flattering to be asked as it appeals to our ego and sense of self worth. But protecting the time we have is vital, not least because not doing so leads to feelings of distress and dissatisfaction.

Social media and the internet take a toll too, as smartphones scream for our time and attention in a way that is difficult to avoid or ignore. Clicking on a simple email or Instagram post is distracting as one link leads to another in an endless loop of wasted time. The promise of each pop up link is tempting but controlling our impulsive nature is the best way to protect time. The secret is to identify the things that are important and be disciplined enough to stay focussed and prioritise what matters. Making the right choices on a regular basis saves huge chunks of wasted time and creates the space we need to function properly and perform well. Adopting the habit of saying no is the best way to avoid wasting time and make best use of what we are given each day.

Saying no

Saying no is of course difficult as it raises worries about missed opportunities, new social interactions, experiences and friendships. But getting the right balance is essential to living a good life and spending time with family and friends. It is impossible to do everything so the sooner we learn to say no the sooner we can live with less stress.

So, developing the habit of saying no is a difficult but necessary discipline to live life in a way that makes sense and keeps us sane.