When it's OK to say "No"

Do you ever look at your calendar to find you've double-booked yourself? Is it hard to tell someone “no” because you hate disappointing people? Are you finding it difficult to find time to complete necessary tasks like laundry and sleeping because you're so busy? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, keep reading. We're going to help you learn to say “no” without guilt.

First, you have to stop associating the word “no” with the feeling of failure or letting someone down. Over-committing yourself means that you won't be able to give your best effort. You can schedule five client meetings and do them all half-heartedly, or you can commit to two and do them both well. We all have limited energy, and if you're spread too thin, you'll waste that precious energy just trying to get from point A to point B.

American poet Maya Angelou once said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is true about saying “no.” It's all about how you say it. Explaining why you can't help someone lets him or her know that you care enough to want to help, but you just aren't available. Most people are understanding and will appreciate that you took the time to explain. Keep in mind, people may follow up your explanation with other pleas aimed at changing your “no” to a “yes.”Be polite but firm with your answer.

Schedule time for yourself. You know what you have to do to be successful. Eating, sleeping, exercising, completing personal tasks/errands, and spending time with loved ones are all necessary. Write these on your calendar like you would a showing or an open house. Know that you cannot double-book these time slots because you are already busy. Providing yourself with the time you need to get things done helps avoid stress and gives you time to breathe.

Remember that you are just one person, and you won't ever be able to do it all. Do what you can with the time you have available, and don't worry about the rest of the tasks you can't tackle. Take solace in the fact that doing your best is enough.

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