Have you ever signed up for an event that you wished you hadn’t? Have you ever taken on a project to later find out that you have taken on way too much? Have you found yourself scrambling through daily life completing task after task without concept of what is most valuable of your time? Are you guilty of saying yes to every task, event or request that comes your way? Last week I wrote about the value of time and making time for the things that matter most. Making time for what matters should always be priority. This, at times, does involve having to say no to requests or offers that are not on your list of priorities.
Our innate nature makes us want to help others as much as we can. However, while giving your time is definitely helpful to others, we must be conscious of the effects of too much giving and not enough giving back to ourselves. Sometimes, we have to reverse our mindset and help ourselves by taking items off our plate that may be weighing down our energy. Saying yes is easy, when in the moment we are not thinking of the work and coordination that is involved in that ‘yes’ word so easily uttered.
I have definitely felt guilty of having to say no to requests that I knew I could not fulfill. I have learned to change this mind-frame by following some of the advice listed below.
- Make a list of your priorities. Whether this is a mental list or something you write down, list the people, tasks, events, and requests that bring value to your time. This may include your family, close friends, your task list at home and work, or events that bring happiness. Stay true to this list of priorities. Do not take on anything that does not bring value to your time and energy. As you relish in your free time, you will thank yourself for not taking on the extra projects.
- Value your time. By saying no to the extras that life can bring, you are actually saying yes to more family time, more time for self-care, more time for rest and rejuvenation. Do not feel guilty for saying no; feel confident that you said yes to everything that matters. Free time is a hot commodity and its absolutely necessary. If you find yourself with some extra time with nothing scheduled, celebrate that. Free time can mean a family hike, a family movie night, a date night with your significant other, a glass of wine and a book, or time for enjoying the quiet and reflecting on life.
- Think for a moment. Before blurting out your “Yes, I’ll do it” or “No, I am sorry, I cannot” take some time to decide on a firm answer. Weigh this commitment against your priority list: Does it fit? Does it bring value to my time and energy? Will I regret committing or not committing? Provide a firm response within a day of the request and own your reply; regardless of your response, do not feel guilty—own your decision.
I am guilty of over-committing and over-doing. I have taken a step back and I now only commit to things that make sense. I put family time very high on my list of priorities and volunteer my time and energy in activities that give back to my family and myself. I engage myself in my work and continuous personal and professional development. Before I sign up for anything extra I make sure that it is aligned with my list of priorities. I encourage everyone to do the same!