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How Saying No Can Scale Back Your Busy Life

How Saying No Can Scale Back Your Busy Life

You’re stressed. You’re frazzled. You’re exhausted. Does this sound like you? Honestly, this description probably fits most of the people reading this article. Do you make up reasons for why you feel like that? Or should I say, excuses? Everyone feels like they are a victim of their hectic and busy life. But guess what? You are in control. You have the power to design your life exactly the way you want it to be. You just need to learn how to say ‘no’ so you can achieve more balance and inner peace in your life. Here are some ideas for you:

1. Don’t Worry About What Other People Think of You.

Let’s face it. Most people are worried about “public perception.” But why? Why do you feel the need to live up to other people’s expectations? Are they living your life? No. You are! Don’t worry whether they think you’re not on the top of your game, or that your kids aren’t perfect, or that you look selfish. All you need to worry about is what you think of you.

2. Before You Accept Any Invitations, Make Sure You Really Want to Go.

Maybe your second cousin invited you to her son’s big 16th birthday bash. Or your “energy vampire” friend needs more advice about her toxic relationship. Stop and think about whether you actually want to commit to these things. Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But the point here is that you need to only accept invitations that make you happy and excited. All the rest should be placed aside with a polite “Thank you, but no thank you.”

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3. Abandon Your Need to be ‘Perfect.’

In my humble opinion, perfectionism should be named as a psychological disorder (not that you asked). I don’t mean to insult anyone who labels themselves a perfectionist. Really, I don’t. I can be one myself from time to time. But guess what? What is “perfect?” NOTHING! NO ONE!! Perfectionism is just an illusion that people chase. It’s not real. It’s just this unattainable goal that keeps eluding us all. So stop chasing it. Just be happy with who you are! Take the pressure off of yourself and strive for excellence, not perfection. Believe me, there is a difference.

4. Don’t Worry About Hurting Other People’s Feelings.

Many people – especially women – are conditioned to want to make other people happy. We don’t want to be mean. We don’t want someone to feel bad because of our actions. But here’s a newsflash for you – no one is responsible for anyone else’s feelings but their own. As long as you act kindly, speak with love, and have good intentions, you don’t have to worry. If people get offended, then it is their problem, not yours. We all need to take personal responsibility for our feelings, not blame others. So detach from thinking you need to make everyone happy. You don’t.

5. Don’t Buy into Societal Pressure to “Keep up with the Joneses” (or “the Kardashians”)

In the United States, we live in a culture of excess. From constant celebrity tabloid gossip to feeling like we’re “nothing” if we don’t have a bigger house, a nicer car, or go on better vacations that the “Joneses.” Again, it’s all an illusion. Just because your 3-year-old isn’t a soccer superstar yet, well, that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure as a parent. Who cares? See #1 and memorize it…stop caring about what other people think of you.

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6. Be Selfish.

Yes, that word has a negative connotation. I know it does. No one wants to be labeled as “selfish.” But guess what? Taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. It’s called ‘self-love.’ If you do nothing but give, and give, and give, and then give some more…well, you’re tank is going to run dry very quickly. And when your tank is dry, you can’t give any more. So you need to refill your tank. And that means saying ‘no’ to obligations that zap your rejuvenation time. It’s okay. No, really. It’s okay to say no.

7. Don’t Impulsively and Habitually say ‘Yes.’

There have been times in my life where I said ‘yes’ only out of habit or because I thought I should. I said ‘yes’ to a promotion – when I later realized I really didn’t like the type of work I would have to do. ‘Yes’ to taking on a major project that I had no experience or training with only to realize later that I hated it. It’s okay to take time to think about it. In fact, it’s imperative.

8. Focus on Your Feelings – Does it Make You Feel Good or Bad?

Let your feelings guide you. Get out of your head. Does your chest tighten up when you say ‘yes’ to a commitment? If it does, hit ‘cancel.’ Pay attention to your feelings. Don’t rationalize too much. If it feels like too much, then it probably is. Don’t try to talk yourself into or out of something that your intuition tells you isn’t right.

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9. Don’t Prioritize Your Schedule, Schedule Your Priorities.

Some people live and die by their schedules. Honestly, I am one of them. But not for the same reasons as other people do. I live by my schedule only to make sure I arrive on time and live up to the obligations I have willingly and joyfully committed to. Look at your real priorities. Having your kids in 20,000 different activities while working a high-powered job and being president of the PTO are all choices. Choices that are probably stressing you out. If they don’t, then cool. Keep doing it! But if not, then you need to re-think your priorities.

10. Know That Being Busy Doesn’t Always Equal Happiness. Or Success.

Sometimes people confuse “busy-ness” with achievement. I know plenty of people who are constantly busy but actually accomplish next to nothing. Just because you’re busy, busy, busy, doesn’t make you more successful, happier, or a better achiever than someone who has learned to say ‘no.’

11. Look at What You’re Missing Out On.

‘Me’ time. Family dinners. Talking with your kids. Playing games with your family. At the end of your life, what are you going to regret the most? Not being president of every organization and club? Not spending more time at work? Not having your kid make it to the NBA (which, by the way, unless he/she is 7 feet tall with crazy talent, well, that might not happen …)? Or not really getting to know your kids. Or not really enjoying yourself and finding your inner peace. I think most people would regret the latter.

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Here’s the bottom line: It’s okay to say no! It’s not only okay, it’s necessary if you want to achieve balance and inner peace. If you’ve never known how that feels, you may not have even considered saying ‘no.’  Don’t worry. People will still like you. Your kids and/or spouse will thank you. In the end, saying ‘no’ will keep you sane. And it will give you a sense of a life well lived, not a life ‘well-stressed.’

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is a dating and relationship coach, professor, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on August 16, 2018

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

16 Productivity Secrets of Highly Successful People Revealed

The same old motivational secrets don’t really motivate you after you’ve read them for the tenth time, do they?

How about a unique spin on things?

These 16 productivity secrets of successful people will make you reevaluate your approach to your home, work, and creative lives. Learn from these highly successful people, turn these little things they do into your daily habits and you’ll get closer to success.

1. Empty your mind.

It sounds counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Emptying your mind when you have so much to remember seems like you’re just begging to forget something. Instead, this gives you a clean slate so you’re not still thinking about last week’s tasks.

Clear your mind and then start thinking only about what you need to do immediately, and then today. Tasks that need to be accomplished later in the week can wait.

Here’s a guide to help you empty your mind and think sharper:

How to Declutter Your Mind to Sharpen Your Brain and Fall Asleep Faster

2. Keep certain days clear.

Some companies are scheduling “No Meeting Wednesdays,” which means, funnily enough, that no one can hold a meeting on a Wednesday. This gives workers a full day to work on their own tasks, without getting sidetracked by other duties or pointless meetings.

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This can work in your personal life too, for example if you need to restrict Facebook access or limit phone calls.

3. Prioritize your work.

Don’t think every task is created equal! Some tasks aren’t as important as others, or might take less time.

Try to sort your tasks every day and see what can be done quickly and efficiently. Get these out of the way so you have more free time and brain power to focus on what is more important.

Lifehack’s CEO has a unique way to prioritize works, take a look at it here:

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

4. Chop up your time.

Many successful business leaders chop their time up into fifteen-minute intervals. This means they work on tasks for a quarter of an hour at a time, or schedule meetings for only fifteen minutes. It makes each hour seem four times as long, which leads to more productivity!

5. Have a thinking position.

Truman Capote claimed he couldn’t think unless he was laying down. Proust did this as well, while Stravinsky would stand on his head!

What works for others may not work for you. Try to find a spot and position that is perfect for you to brainstorm or come up with ideas.

6. Pick three to five things you must do that day.

To Do lists can get overwhelming very quickly. Instead of making a never-ending list of everything you can think of that needs to be done, make daily lists that include just three to five things.

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Make sure they’re things that need to be done that day, so you don’t keep putting them off.

7. Don’t try to do too much.

OK, so I just told you to work every day, and now I’m telling you to not do too much? It might sound like conflicting advice, but not doing too much means not biting off more than you can chew. Don’t say yes to every work project or social engagement and find yourself in way over your head.

8. Have a daily action plan.

Don’t limit yourself to a to-do list! Take ten minutes every morning to map out a daily action plan. It’s a place to not only write what needs to be done that day, but also to prioritize what will bring the biggest reward, what will take the longest, and what goals will be accomplished.

Leave room for a “brain dump,” where you can scribble down anything else that’s on your mind.

9. Do your most dreaded project first.

Getting your most dreaded task over with first means you’ll have the rest of the day free for anything and everything else. This also means that you won’t be constantly putting off the worst of your projects, making it even harder to start on it later.

10. Follow the “Two-Minute Rule.”

The “Two-Minute Rule” was made famous by David Allen. It’s simple – if a new task comes in and it can be done in two minutes or less, do it right then. Putting it off just adds to your to-do list and will make the task seem more monumental later.

11. Have a place devoted to work.

If you work in an office, it’s no problem to say that your cubicle desk is where you work every day.

But if you work from home, make sure you have a certain area specifically for work. You don’t want files spread out all over the dinner table, and you don’t want to feel like you’re not working just because you’re relaxing on the couch.

Agatha Christie never wrote at her desk, she wrote wherever she could sit down. Ernest Hemingway wrote standing up. Thomas Wolfe, at 6’6″ tall, used the top of his refrigerator as a desk. Richard Wright wrote on a park bench, rain or shine.

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Have a space where, when you go there, you know you’re going to work. Maybe it’s a cafe downstairs, the library, or a meeting room. Whenever and wherever works for you, do your works there.

12. Find your golden hour.

You don’t have to stick to a “typical” 9–5 schedule!

Novelist Anne Rice slept during the day and wrote at night to avoid distractions. Writer Jerzy Kosinski slept eight hours a day, but never all at once. He’d wake in the morning, work, sleep four hours in the afternoon, then work more that evening.

Your golden hour is the time when you’re at your peak. You’re alert, ready to be productive, and intent on crossing things off your to-do list.

Once you find your best time, protect it with all your might. Make sure you’re always free to do your best uninterrupted work at this time.

13. Pretend you’re on an airplane.

It might not be possible to lock everyone out of your office to get some peace and quiet, but you can eliminate some distractions.

By pretending you’re on an airplane, you can act like your internet access is limited, you’re not able to get something from your bookcase, and you can’t make countless phone calls.

Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your most important tasks and get them done without interruption.

14. Never stop.

Writers Anthony Trollope and Henry James started writing their next books as soon as they finished their current work in progress.

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Stephen King writes every day of the year, and holds himself accountable for 2,000 words a day! Mark Twain wrote every day, and then read his day’s work aloud to his family to get their feedback.

There’s something to be said about working nonstop, and putting out continuous work instead of taking a break. It’s just a momentum that will push you go further./

15. Be in tune with your body.

Your mind and body will get tired of a task after ninety minutes to two hours focused on it. Keep this in mind as you assign projects to yourself throughout the day, and take breaks to ensure that you won’t get burned out.

16. Try different methods.

Vladimir Nabokov wrote the first drafts of his novels on index cards. This made it easy to rearrange sentences, paragraphs, and chapters by shuffling the cards around.

It does sound easier, and more fun, than copying and pasting in Word! Once Nabokov liked the arrangement, his wife typed them into a single manuscript.

Same for you, don’t give up and think that it’s impossible for you to be productive when one method fails. Try different methods until you find what works perfectly for you.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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