Robert was stressed. He had too much on his plate.

He was asked to join different activities all the time, but he had hard time of saying “no” to those requests.

At the same time, he was trying to build his online business and his goal was to be able to resign from his current day job in the near future. Unfortunately, the frequent requests to join various activities were burning him out and made his online business plans virtually impossible.

He felt sad that he didn’t have the time necessary to focus on his business, since the other, non-essential stuff was taking up his time.

Eventually, he sat down and started to figure out his situation a little bit closer.  Quite soon he realized that there was only one way that could help in this situation – even if it sounded like the worst excuse ever.

Still, he decided to give it a try.

Are you saying “yes” too easily?

You’ll recognize Robert – there is probably someone like him in your friends or in your colleagues. Heck, even you could be “Robert,” suffering from the same issues he has with his time.

His problem was saying “yes”too easily to requests. This way he can keep his “good guy” status alive and he doesn’t have to ponder what others think of him.

However, this “good guy” status has its price, as he is not able to focus on his own personal projects. Instead, he is letting others to dictate his time. And although unselfishness is a good trait in a person, too much is just too much.

So, saying “yes” is a double-sided sword and it can stress you down for good.

Now, I’m not saying that saying “no” is any easier, because it always isn’t. But when you start to feel burdened with far too many activities which are not really related to your personal vision, then you have to reconsider the commitments you engage with.

It’s clearly a time to change your strategy.

Yes, you are the nice guy

If I look at my own experiences in this situation, I can identify two core reasons for doing so (saying “yes” to requests):

  • Not trying to hurt other’s feelings
  • I’m too unselfish

In the first point (when I say “yes”), I don’t have to ponder what others think of me (just like Robert).

However, it’s a different story if I said “no.” I would probably spend time on thinking what the other person is thinking of me if I said no.

But the bigger reason is that I’m too unselfish. Now, I don’t know about you, but many times you hear how you should help others when they ask your help and that’s totally fine.

However, when I’m too unselfish, I have found myself in situations and activities I don’t like. I feel like I’m obligated to say “yes” – even though I know that my time is wasted.

But is there a way to become a bit more self-centered and protect your time from requests that are not serving your anyway?

Yes…there is!

Are you ready to use a cliché?

Remember that I just said that sometimes I’m almost obligated to say “yes” to something I don’t want to?

Well, just some time ago I got a phone call from salesperson, who was at first trying to get me to donate money for charity. I managed to decline this request by just saying “no,” since I felt that this charity didn’t resonate with me that much.

However, the other question the seller woman asked me came unexpectedly: “Would I like to order a magazine related to this very charity?”

I tried to find an excuse to get out of the situation and at last I ended up saying, “I don’t have enough time to read that magazine.”

Personally I hate that particular sentence, because in most of the cases it’s just an excuse of avoiding something.

But then the light bulb went on inside my head: saying this sentence wasn’t an excuse after all. I honestly didn’t have time to purchase a magazine subscription and read a magazine that I wasn’t interested in.

In fact, what I did was that I was protecting my time from something that didn’t resonate with me at all.

Like Robert, I’m building my online business on the side and I also want to spend time with my family – as much as possible.

Because of that, saying this common excuse was a perfect way to protect my time.

Maybe you should try it too?

How to say this common phrase without sounding an excuse?

Here is how to say the “excuse” as easily as possible:

  1. Evaluate the request. You don’t want to decline a request right away. Instead, listen what the person has to say first and then start your decision process.
  2. Use the “excuses” if necessary. If the commitment isn’t supporting your goals or your vision, say “I don’t have time” or “I’m busy.” In fact, I used this very same reason when I was asked to become a president in our local computer club. I said “I don’t have time,” because I had some other activities already going on.
  3. Be honest. Honesty will pay off. If you say that you’re busy or that you don’t have enough time, you should truly mean it. In my situation, I want to dedicate time for my family and for building my online business, so that’s a valid reason for not joining any new commitments. However, if I feel that if the commitment supports my goals or vision somehow, then I’m ready to reconsider.
  4. Feel proud of your vision or goal. When you protect your time, you are also valuing yourself. And if you have a personal vision that you want to fulfill or an important goal to reach, feel proud of them and don’t let external forces steer you wrong. Sometimes finding enough time for your valuable activities may be difficult, so a good way to block the time snatchers is to use common phrases or “excuses” to set the boundaries. This way you are not compromising on executing your vision or delaying reaching your goals.
  5. Say “yes” selectively. No matter what, sometimes you may have to accept a request. This is especially true if a family member or a close relative asks you to do something. Naturally, you want to help you family members (or close relatives) in that situation, but here applies the same rule as in any other situation: too much is too much. You just have to use your judgment on a case-by-case basis if you want to be helpful or not. Remember, it’s perfectly fine to use the “excuses” in this context too. Then again, be honest about your situation and truly mean what you say.

In conclusion

Saying “yes” to too many commitments can very easily burn you down, thus making your stressed since you don’t have enough time for your own activities.

Because of this, you should use phrases like “I don’t have time” or “I’m busy,” if your situation is really like that.

Also, when you use the phrases, you are protecting your time from external forces that are trying to take your valuable time away from you.

Over to you: How do you protect your time?

Featured photo credit:  making excuses via Shutterstock

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