Time Management: The Power of “No” vs “Yes”

Cindy JobsOrganization

24 hours a day. 7 days a week. That’s all we get. It’s finite.

How much do you value your time?

As I get older, I’m more aware that time really is finite. I can’t make more of it; I can only use what I have more wisely.

I used to think I could do it all.

I used to think that if someone asked me to do something, they really need MY help, not just help.

I used to think if someone asked me to join them at an event or to chair a committee, the request was an honor and privilege and that it would be rude to say “no.”

I don’t think that way anymore.

As a general rule, we are all people-pleasers. We want to say yes. We want to help out. We know our contributions will mean a lot to people. But, for every “yes” comes a commitment. It may not be much, but any “yes” takes precious time and energy that could be utilized another way. Time and energy that could be used to support our family, our faith, our job.

If you are already feeling overwhelmed and you can’t decide between “yes” and “no,” ask yourself the following questions.

1. Does this obligation fill you up? Does your brain say “I just can’t imagine NOT doing (insert obligation here).” It could be anything: a trip, a sporting event, serving on a committee, a new challenge at work.

a.  If you get excited just thinking about it, then “yes.”

b.  If not, then “no.”

2. Does this task have to be done?

a.  If it has to be done and you’re the only one that can do it, then “yes.”

b. If it doesn’t need to be done, and/or you aren’t the only one that can do it, then “no.”

3. Are you just doing just because you’ve always done it? Sometimes we are stuck in a rut, and we just don’t know how to back out of a perceived commitment. Let’s use the example of a Book Club. Maybe it doesn’t fill you up anymore, but people just expect you to participate. Chances are the Book Club will get along just fine without you and you will alleviate some stress and gain some time. Refer to #1.

4. Are you doing it just because people expect you to do it? Just because you’ve always run that report, brought in donuts, made that first pot of coffee, doesn’t mean you still have to. Possibly the report doesn’t need to get run, most of us certainly don’t need those donuts, and someone else can make the coffee. Refer to #2.

I say “yes” a lot.

I love the Therapy Dog work I do. When someone asks if I can come for a visit, I say “yes.” It fills me up.

I love helping my clients, even if they are hard to fit in my already-crammed schedule. I say “yes” more times than not.

I love taking my grandson when the kids have conflicting schedules. It’s not always convenient and sometimes I have to shuffle my schedule, but it’s always rewarding, so I say “yes.”

Saying “yes” can open us up to many great adventures, opportunities, and experiences, and that is wonderful. But, every time you say “yes” to a commitment that takes your time and energy and doesn’t fill you up, you may have to say “no” to something that would.

24 hours a day.  7 days a week.  That’s all we get.  It’s finite.  Use it wisely.

Cindy Jobs

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Member Color - WebNational Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), Seattle Area Chapter President

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