Taking Back Your Time By Saying No More Often Than Yes

The following post is from Lisa of Working Naked:

source: Horia Varlan

When my sons were younger, I was at the top of the volunteer list (translation: sucker). Whenever someone called me to help with an event, class project or anything else to do with school, I said yes. I did the same thing with two professional associations I was in.

One day I had a revelation. I was spending more time volunteering my time than growing my business. I’m all for helping others, but eventually you have to say no more often than you say yes.

How many times have you said yes when you meant no? There are only so many hours in a day, and if at some point you don’t say no, you’ll never get ahead (or get any sleep!).

Before you say yes to everything, consider a few questions.

What are you willing to give up?

When you say yes to one thing, often you’ll have to say no to something more enjoyable. Look at your schedule and determine if you really have time to tackle one more project. If not, be honest, be direct and say no. Something I’ve finally started telling people is that I could say yes and do the job halfway or say no and let someone do it right. Everyone goes for the second option.

Could you recommend someone else?

When there’s no more room left on your plate, let the person know that you’re too busy to meet his or her request, then recommend someone else for the task. But keep in mind that whomever you recommend is a reflection on you. Don’t suggest someone unless you have first-hand knowledge of his or her capabilities.

Will others be flexible?

If you know you won’t be able to meet your client’s deadline, discuss a more realistic date. If you can’t compromise, be diplomatic and turn down the project. Some clients will gladly wait for you to begin working on their project. They’d rather know up front that you can’t start a project right away than find out later on that you need to delay your start date.

Will you be miserable after you say yes?

The saying “No good deed goes unpunished” still rings true. You can say yes to someone, yet cringe at the same time.  You’ll know that your yes should have been a no when you’re stomach is tied up in knots. Consider how you’ll feel after you commit to a project and let that feeling be your guide.

The bottom line is that none of us can do everything, and all of us could use a few more hours in the day. Take back your time by doing one thing…saying no more often.

At what point in your business did you finally start saying no?

Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of WorkingNaked.com and the author of five books about working from home including, Organize Your Home Office for Success. Lisa works with entrepreneurs and home-based employees through seminars and individual consultations, to create functional home offices that meet each individual’s working style.