time management, task list

Just Say “No!” – Time Management Essentials

In the 80’s and 90’s, thanks to first lady, Nancy Reagan, this phrase became very popular.  Back then, it was used in advertising campaigns to raise awareness of drug abuse. Now, it’s one of the most important time management strategies you can employ to create more success in your life!

How often do you agree to do things you really don’t want to do….or worse….things you know will take you in the exact opposite direction of what it is you want?

We live in an age where it’s so easy (almost too easy) to communicate.  We email, we text, we call, we use social media, we stop in, we page, we leave messages, we Skype, we use Google Hangouts, webinars and conference calls…..the list seems endless! One of the best time management skills you can develop is the ability to remove distraction.  And the biggest distractions are technology (we’ll get into that one in a later post) and people.

Don’t get me wrong, I love people.  Social skills are crucial to successful business.  (Not to mention the extreme satisfaction that can be enjoyed when we connect on an emotional level with someone.)  However, it’s important to create a good balance between our relationship building (whether personal or professional) and our ability to focus our energies on our task list. As a general rule, we say “yes” to things all the time we don’t really want to do.  We want to help, to be approved of, to preserve our relationships, or perhaps, we just don’t want to be alone.  Most of us get all caught up in worrying what everyone will think of us if we say “no.”

Think about how many hours you could save if you carefully considered each request prior to giving up your precious time and chose only those things you really wanted to do.

Now, I know you may be thinking that I sound like a bit of a hermit, but think about it…..if you say “yes” and only half-heartedly participate, aren’t you doing them a greater dis-service? Wouldn’t saying “no” and allowing them to find someone else who is passionate about their cause or about spending time with them be of greater benefit for them?  Or better yet, direct them to another resource who may be interested in their offer or request.  You are actually using your time management skills to help someone else find a more interested client, companion or contributor.  Don’t you think they would be grateful for such an opportunity?  Much more so than if you said “yes” and weren’t really emotionally invested in whatever they’d asked you to do.

It’s time we stop being so sensitive about the word “no.” It’s just two little letters. It’s nothing personal.

Successful people say “no” all of the time in favor of their priorities. It’s how they maintain enough freedom to say “yes” to those things that really excite and motivate them.  Not many of us would consider this a time management strategy, but believe me….it makes a huge difference!

When faced with someone who does take your “no” personally, feel free to use this statement:

It’s not against you; it’s for me.

You may love them, support them, encourage them, acknowledge them, be happy for them and genuinely care about their success….that doesn’t mean you have to be willing or able to fully participate.

Time management and its link to our inability to say “no” is prevalent in both personal relationships as well as corporate culture.  I could tell you story after story about company cultures which don’t allow (or at the very least, strongly discourage) employees to say “no” and how that keeps them constantly in a reactive, unproductive mode.  Getting caught up in allowing customers, clients or employees to drive  daily actions by catering to individual “emergencies” rather than setting boundaries and sticking to them is a great way to throw any semblance of time management out the window.  Unfortunately, this creates an environment where time and staffing are consumed with extinguishing a lot of little individual “fires” while the entire house burns down around them.

Yes, it’s important to work as a team and be helpful, but in many cases…

…a little extra training and some developed communications skills can go a long way to solve some very serious time management issues.

There’s just one more quick point to make before I wrap this up…..I know you may be thinking “Good relationships are based on compromise.  I may not want to do what you’ve asked, but I want to nurture our relationship so this time, I’ll do it.  And, I hope, that next time I want to do something you don’t like, maybe you’ll oblige for me.”

Okay.  I get it.  And yes….this is an important aspect of relationship.  However, I would counter that if you want to spend time with someone and want to support them in their interests….it does not fit into the realm of the discussion of this post.  It’s about weighing your want to do the actual activity versus the want to nurture your relationship…and sometimes, the relationship comes out with more importance. You’ve just made the decision that you want to do it.  Does that make sense?

So, let’s all take a moment to practice – yes, say it with me, out loud, right now……

“I’m not interested.”

“Thank you for asking, but I need to decline.”

“I’m sorry, but my schedule just won’t allow it right now.”

“No, thank you.”

“I’d love to help you, but I’m not in a position to do so right now.”

“No.”  ⇐  Yes, that is a complete sentence.

It takes practice.

When you are able to say “no” from a place of love and appreciation, the energy is such that they will be grateful for your honesty and forthright response.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with the amount of items on your task list and feel as though there are never enough hours in the day, I would welcome the opportunity to support you in improving your time management skills.  Reach out to me through my Contact page.



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