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“Just” Saying No is Hard, But You Need to Learn How

saying noSaying no is hard. And it can be especially hard in a business setting. But a lot of the time management tips from professional organizers are focused around a central idea: Learning to say no is crucial.

We all want to be team players, and we all want to be part of as many interesting projects as we can. That said, saying yes too many times to too many people leads to burnout. It’s as simple as that. Saying yes too often means you’re not serving anyone, including yourself.

Our NYC professional organizer recognizes, and knows herself, that the urge to overcommit is based on reasonable-seeming enticements:

  1. The project or event is interesting and worthwhile.
  2. We don’t wish to disappoint someone.

The second reason is the biggest one for so many of us having impossible schedules. Saying no is not personal. But it is most certainly a skill, one that like all skills requires practice, and nuance. Below are four favorite ways,  all extremely effective time management tips, to gracefully decline invitations and requests.

  1. Unfortunately, I’m in the middle of several projects right now. This lets people understand that your plate is already full. They will recognize that you have prior commitments, ones that you want to complete to the best of your abilities without spreading yourself too thin.
  2. I’m not the most qualified person for this particular project. If you are a financial expert and someone is asking you for marketing strategy work, there is no shame in expressing your concerns. By being direct about your skills and limitations you are serving the person making the request and those to whom you are already committed.
  3. Right now, I need to focus on my career. We have all learned the hard way that no one can be all things to all people. With varied personal and family interests outside of work, the opportunities to get involved, especially if you have a reputation for getting the job done, are abundant.  Constructing healthy boundaries for yourself creates a buffer of sanity and calm in your world. This is absolutely not selfish.
  4. Simply No. There are situations in which, when given with both courtesy and respect, this is the best response of all. When you know that just isn’t enough time to take on another task, delivering the message in a polite and considerate manner with an explanation as appropriate is the best approach.

You may be surprised: But you absolutely can control your schedule. Our NYC professional organizer reminds us that time management only becomes possible at all when one is not overbooked. Saying no increases productivity and sanity in equal measure.

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