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Productivity Tip: Learn how to say no

Those of you who have no trouble saying no can just skip the rest of this post.

Some of you, however, may be like me. I like making people happy and don't like disappointing them. I also dislike conflict. I like helping people. So when people ask me for things, I used to usually say yes....even when I knew I'd probably regret it later.

I'm gradually learning how to say no.

While it's true that saying yes to one "just have a quick favor to ask, would appreciate just a few minutes of your time" is no problem, saying yes to a LOT of these favors accumulates. And in my experience, "just a few minutes" inevitably turns into hours or sometimes days.

What's hardest: saying no to projects that DO sound like a lot of fun and/or worthy and that I really, really want to do. There are many of these. One of my challenges (and I suspect some of you feel similarly): I want to do EVERYTHING. There are so many good causes, so many people I want to help, so many projects I'd love to be a part of.

By saying no more often, however, I'm able to focus and enjoy the projects I say "yes" to more fully AND have more flexibility about when I do take on a new project. 

Good luck!


Reader Comments (2)

My favorite is that people invariably underestimate how long their "little favor" is going to take.

Not quite as bad as the client who asks for "one more rewrite" or "one more fix" and you feel you really CAN'T say no. Happily, that's what an agent is for! (at least the good ones!)

January 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDenis Markell

This is my LIFE. Even friends-of-friends have started doing this now - I got a phone number of a girl my sister's Godmother met in an Apple store... she thought I'd want to call the girl because "she wants to write." For heaven's sakes, nothing is stopping the girl, let her write! I needn't be involved, surely?!

And, then there's the organizations I love - the alumni, the community church, the high school or junior college writing classes... and I do one thing, and it acts like an avalanche against the door marked "Don't Even Ask," insinuating itself against my better judgment and coldly shoving it aside.

As I've gotten older/snarkier, I've really rolled that "no" word around in my mouth more often. It always seems like every favor is a little one... but at the end of the day I have to remember that unless *I* take myself seriously as a writer, NO ONE ELSE WILL.


January 15, 2015 | Unregistered Commentertanita

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