A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. – Mahatma Gandhi
Imagine a CD box with slots for 24 CDs. Your box is totally full of all your favourite albums. But then you see something that you want. You must take out one of the CDs in order to fit in the new one.
Time is like that CD box — a finite resource. There are only 24 hours available to be filled. When we say “Yes” to another project, another request, another errand we are saying “No” to something that we already have planned. It might be something you are happy to let go — giving up watching TV in order to read a new book — but sometimes you have to give up the time you spend meditating, making love, playing with your kids or sleeping.
Saying YES to something always means saying NO to something else.
So why do we automatically say “Yes” when people make requests of us?
Guilt — I said “No” last time so I had better say “Yes”
Desire to please — If I do this for her, then she will like/admire/respect me more
Fear of rejection — If I say “No” she’ll be upset and won’t talk to me
Feeling needed — She needs helping and I’m good at helping people
Path of least resistance — I’m too tired to get into an argument now, I’ll just do it to keep the peace
So here are a few creative ways to say “No” and consciously choose to be in control of your time.
I’ll let you know — I need to see if there is room to move things around in my schedule. I’ll get back to you tomorrow
Soft no — I would love to help you out but I don’t have enough time to do a good job. I’m going to have to say no this time
Delegate — I can’t fit that in right now but maybe Jane can help you
Outsource — Oh I used to worry about that too, but now I pay someone to do it and it means I can go for a walk instead
Hard no (mmmmm hard) — Fuck off! (obviously not recommended for mothers, children, spouses or bosses)
PS — please don’t say sorry — managing your time efficiently is nothing to be sorry about.
Do you automatically say “Yes” without thinking about what you’ll have to give up in order to do another thing? How do you say “No”?