Time is a precious commodity and the parameters keep shrinking as you allow more people to make demands on your time. It’s difficult trying to keep up with work, school, religious, community, political, and social schedules. If you don’t get a handle on all of the requests and take a step or two back, you may reach a boiling point and things could get ugly.

Keep in mind there are just so many hours in a day. Some of those hours need to be spent sleeping, taking care of your family, and taking care of yourself. If those essential areas are left untended, life will start to unravel creating unnecessary stress and chaos. Projects are left unfinished, appointments are missed, bills go unpaid, and loved ones may even feel unloved.

One of the biggest favors you can do for yourself is to learn how to say “no.” While it does require a little finesse and perhaps some practice, it only takes a few minutes out of your busy schedule. This leaves you with more time to do the things you really enjoy! Here are some helpful tips:

Be politely firm.

Simply say something along the lines of, “I’m sorry, but that will not fit in my schedule.” It’s okay to be apologetic, but only a little. Don’t be rude or confrontational even if the other person is. You also don’t have to offer an explanation if you don’t want to. However, if you feel compelled to do so keep it short and simple. Remain firm even when the requester continues to press you – and they often will.

Don’t say “yes” when you really mean “no.”

Sometimes it’s really difficult to say no, especially to colleagues, family, and friends. Hopefully, those will be the people who are the most understanding. And, if they’re not and still try to coerce into doing something you really don’t want to – remain politely firm. You will feel bad a lot longer if you say yes to something you don’t have the time or desire to do, than if you just say no and get it over with.

Give yourself some time.

If this a committee that you would really like to serve on, or a project that would be fun and rewarding, or you feel guilty giving a straightforward “no,” you can opt for more time to think about it. Respond with, “Let me think about it and I’ll get back to you,” and then take some time to do just that. If you decide to squeeze a new commitment into your already jam-packed schedule, consider giving up something else to make room.

Offer a compromise.

Again, if this something you would really like to do but simply do not have the time to invest, compromise by offering to do something else that will not take a lot of energy and resources. Perhaps it could be a quick task, or an errand that you could do simultaneously with another.

The bottom line is not to allow yourself to get overtaxed and stressed out. This could create another subset of issues such as anxiety or insecurity. If getting control of your daily routine seems insurmountable, consider talking to a supportive counselor or therapist who can help you develop an effective action plan with realistic goals.


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