Raise your hand if you’re too busy. If you’re an “Uber-doer”, and multi-tasking is a way of life. If you are perhaps reading this blog while reviewing your to-do list and/or thinking about your day’s schedule.
One reason you are too busy may be that you can’t say “No”. If so, I feel your pain. I, too, am an uber-doer. It’s been me wide awake at 3 in the morning after remembering that I was supposed to bring snacks to my kids’ classrooms in 5 hours with no brownie mix in sight. Chances are you were probably awake, too, wondering how you were going to hit a pressing deadline.
It’s a miserable feeling, right? How in the world did we get here? Why can’t we say “No”?
- We think we can do it, even when we know how busy we are.
- We’re afraid that saying “No” will make us look bad.
- We feel it’s important and worry that it won’t happen if we don’t do it.
- We think we don’t have a choice.
It’s also quite possible we like being that busy guy/girl. Society has informally labeled “Busy” as “Good,” so we think that the busier we are, the more invaluable we are. This, of course, is flawed thought, obvious the moment we drop the ball.
Beware the barrenness of a busy life.
What kind of life do we have when must-dos outnumber want-to-dos? An unhappy one. The costs are numerous. “Too busy” gets old fast; it’s mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting. And because we are human, we are going to mess up, and so are bound to disappoint others and ourselves.
If any of these costs feel familiar to you, it’s time for a change. As you know, change requires bravery, especially if you are afraid of looking bad or letting someone down.
Here are some ideas to manage your way to “No”:
- Reframe your “Busy is good” mindset and focus on quality over quantity.
- Be honest with yourself and release those tasks that aren’t doable before they become a problem.
- Give yourself permission to complete the tasks already on your plate before taking on something new.
- Evaluate new opportunities in terms of what you can really do.
- Then, say “No” as needed.
If you are worried about turning someone down, soften your response. Say that you’ll do it another time, to indicate that you really do want to help. Offer to take a small, manageable piece. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find the right words, but if you can’t, say “No” anyway. You’ll notice that while people may not like it, they really will understand.
Don’t be afraid to a stand for yourself and the kind of life you want to have. The things you have to do will always be there, but saying “No” will give you the freedom to pick and choose the things you really want to do, as well.
Let me know how it goes. None of this is easy work, but if you share your stories, you will help others in our “Brave Community” tackle the difficult challenges they face.
Be brave. Choose your life. Just say “No.”
Anne Sanderoff-Walker said:
My most recent “No” came when asked to chair an event I had chaired three times in the past. I offered to mentor the new chairs and the event is being planned with new vigor and fresh energy. I look forward to attending without stress. Remember, “No” is a complete sentence.
Lisa Pote said:
You’ve raised such a great point! Sometime, our saying “No” creates an opening for someone else to take that task and make it even better than we ever would have.
I think I’ll pin that on my wall, ” “No” is a complete sentence”. Thanks Anne!
I vividly remember my first “No” – it was absolutely freeing!