How to Decide When to Say No

Do you say “yes” far too often for your own good? Want to know how to decide when to say “no” instead? The next time someone asks you to do something, take a look at your obligations first. Do so in the following order:

  1. Calendar
  2. Task Manager

Why in that order? It’s because the calendar can be glanced at quickly and if you have enough empty space, then you’ve got a better chance of saying “yes” instead of “no” to that project or task.

Your task manager is next because you can look at what you’ve got on your plate and make an assessment based on facts as opposed to feeling. You only have so much time to get what you need to get done, and if your task manager is teeming with stuff then it’s best to close some of those things off first before adding more things.

What happens when we’re asked to do stuff is that we want to please. We want to do as much as we can so that we can achieve as much as we can. But the truth is that while it may not be better (or possible) to say “no” more often than “yes” to things, it is better (and possible) to assess where you’re at before you commit to more things. After all, David Allen is spot on when he says that while we “can do anything, but we can’t do everything.”

If someone asks you to do something and you need that time, simply reply with:

“I just need to take a moment to see what else I’ve got on the go. I’ll get back to you by [insert timeframe here] to let you know where I’m at. Thanks.”

No matter whether you’re really in tune with your task manager or not, take the time to assess where you’re at by physically looking at your calendar and your task manager of choice. Only then can you make an informed decision — which is the ideal type of decision you should be making for as many things as possible anyway.

Photo credit: el_valdez via SXC.HU