I have been coaching clients to improve their time management for many years. I regularly encounter people who are completely overburdened with work. If they could double the length of every day, they still would not be able to meet the demands which have been placed upon them; including the demands that they have placed upon themselves. It is pointless trying to help these people organise themselves and their time until they have mastered one vital step – they must learn to say ‘No’.

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Why you must learn to say ‘No’

The reason why you must learn to say ‘No’ is very simple. There is only so much that you can complete in one day, week, month, year etc. You may temporarily be able to push yourself beyond your limit but it will catch up on you and cause you to burnout. When you try to do too much, chaos and pandemonium ensue, leading to a reduction in your productivity; not the intended improvement.

3 Situations where you must learn to say ‘No’

The following are the 3 most common situations where you must learn to say ‘No’.

1. When it is not your work

Your work doesn’t come from thin air. The majority will be assigned to you by others. Sometimes you will just be told you have to do it while other times you will be asked to help out. This is all well and good but there are only so many hours in the day that you can work. You have clear goals and objectives; at least you should have. The only way you are going to meet those goals and objectives is by dedicating the majority of your time to the achievement of those goals and objective. Any task which does not help you achieve these goals and objectives must be considered a potential distraction where you may have to say ‘No’.

It is easy to say 'yes' when a friend or colleague asks us to help out or has a 'quick question'. We all like to be helpful and I’m not saying you should say ‘No’ to everything. But you must only say ‘Yes’ when you actually have the time to help. If you always say ‘Yes’, even when you shouldn’t, you will soon find that people take you for granted and you begin to resent them for asking.

2. When you just don’t have the time

There will be times when even though a task may fall within your responsibility, you simply do not have the time to complete it. You just have too much on your plate. The answer is not to work more hours. The answer is to either say ‘No’ to this task or say ‘No’ to another task in order to make room for this new task.

3. When you get too ambitious

When it comes to eating, we often use the phrase ‘Your eyes are bigger than your belly’; meaning that you thought you could eat more that you really could. This also applies to goal achievement. It’s great to dream big but your dreams can lead you to believe that you can do more in a shorter space of time than you really can. You can only focus on 1-2 major goals at any one time, as long as they are not conflicting goals, so you must avoid trying to do more than you really can. You need to learn to say ‘No’ to yourself so that you can focus your energy on the 1-2 most important goals. Other goals can be kept on your someday maybe list for later consideration.

Prioritise Your Priorities

The most important reason to say 'No' is so that you can put yourself first and focus your time and energy on what matters most to you.

'Prioritise Your Priorities: How to Say 'No' to Others to Yourself' will teach you how to say 'No' without upsetting others.

prioritise your priorities package (2)


Saying ‘No’ is not the most pleasant thing to do. It often feels like you are letting somebody down but if you always say ‘Yes’ you actually are letting somebody down - you. You simply do not have the time to help everybody and meet your needs. You must put yourself first and then, you can look at how you can help others. To do this, it is essential that you learn to say ‘No’.


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