This little tale I’ve stylized in the previous installments has occurred over and over again. Time after time this series of events happens to people who can’t find a way to say “no” to something they shouldn’t have said “yes” to in the first place. I’ve seen it so often that I’ve practically become a consultant for this type of situation (or at least I’m often asked to function in that capacity). Part of the reason I’m asked to take this role is that I learned the hard way to say “no.” Now I say “no” quite frequently.
Part of why I’ve gotten so good at saying “no” is necessity. Having a child, being responsible for 400+ students, a number of teaching assistants, and my own doctoral coursework has required that I use my time much more efficiently. One of the quickest ways to free up time is to say “no” to every request. While this doesn’t work for everything it is certainly a step in the right direction.
One of the quickest ways to get into the habit is to simply say the word “no” to every request as a default response. It’s amazingly freeing just saying the word. It’s implication is that your time is valuable. The side-effect of saying “no” right off the bat is that if the request was going to be unimportant the person won’t bother you with it at that moment and (here’s the added bonus) will bother you less frequently with unimportant interruptions.You also won’t commit yourself to tasks you’re unable to complete.
Imagine if the VOLUNTEER from the story had simply said that they didn’t have the time (or “no”)? Imagine if the WOMAN wasn’t concerned about the VOLUNTEER’s feelings and simply took the help being offered at her front door (saying “no” to the VOLUNTEER’s help)? Imagine how much more work would have been done, how much quicker it would have been done, and how much easier life would have been for all? Imagine. It starts with saying “no.” (Weird, huh?)