Learn to Say No and Take Control of Your Time

Learn To say No

Learning how to say no and being prepared to do so is one of the key steps on the path to taking control of your time. When we were young we used to say no all the time, but our parents or guardians very quickly ensured that we discovered that the word was unacceptable and so we grew up either not able to say no to others or at the very least feeling very uncomfortable when we do so.

It’s time to start taking control of your time and the first step is to realise that sometimes it is good to say no, learn to say no and you’ll experience the benefits outlined below amongst others:

You’ll suffer less stress – Over committing or over scheduling your time will cause your stress levels to increase. Learn to say no and you will automatically reduce your stress, even if you feel uncomfortable the first few times you do it. The freedom you experience and the time you free up will soon overshadow the fear of saying no.

You’ll Be considered very professional – Everybody realises that not everybody can do everything. If you agree to do something for someone else when you already have that time scheduled for something else, that is not professional as you will have to let someone down, either yourself or the other party. The professional person says they can’t help. Don’t feel that you have to make excuses, just be honest and state that your calendar is full.

You’ll do more of the things you enjoy – If you learn to say no, you are giving yourself a choice, I’m not advocating saying no all the time, just think before doing so. Saying yes all the time means that you spend many hours helping others when you would rather be doing things that you want to do. This in turn makes you frustrated and regret agreeing to help in the first place.

You’ll gain more respect – If you look at any group of people you will see the 80/20 rule is very evident, as in 80% of the work is done by 20% of the group. Sometimes the 20% are also the yes people or those that are unable to say no. They are in fact just trying to be helpful, but many times get taken advantage of, even by nice people. Eventually people lose respect for those that allow themselves to be taken advantage of. Learn to say no and stand up for yourself in the right way and you will gain the respect of others.

Saying No allows you to say yes more often – This may sound counter-intuitive but it’s true. If you learn to say no to things that don’t advance your business or life in any measurable way, you’ll have more time to say yes to things that do.

You will always do a thorough job – You have come across them I’m sure, those people that say yes to everything and never complete or do “half a job”. They don’t do it on purpose, it’s just that they say yes so often and end up with so much to do, that it is impossible for them to do everything 100%. Learn to say no and complete everything you take on, to the best of your ability and save yourself the embarrassment of having to hand back a half finished task.

Pause, Breath, ask and Check Your Calendar – This is a great strategy to help you learn to say no. When someone requests something of you, even if it’s something you know that you want to do, get into the routine of taking a pause, take a breath, and ask when it needs to be done by, when they answer, then check your calendar. Following this routine will give you the opportunity to choose whether you wish to say yes or no.

Far too many people automatically say yes when asked to do something. Learn to say no and you will soon take control of your life and start to live it on your terms, you will feel less stressed and overwhelmed and you will achieve more on a daily basis.

Till Next Time

Mike Gardner – The Time Doctor

Ps – If you have found these tips useful you may like to consider joining my Facebook Group, The Time Management Academy. The group has over three hundred members who along with myself, are dedicated to sharing skills, techniques and resources in order to significantly benefit you in your journey to have more control of their time and a more balanced life.

Click here to join The Time Management Academy


Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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