By Janine Taylor-Cutting
How do you juggle the demands that are placed on you each day? Are you trying to start or run a business while raising a family, completing courses, volunteering, nurturing relationships, or caring for aging family members?
Many of us experience overwhelming moments because we are just doing so much. How does one know when to say yes and when to say no? How does one know how to best manage time and complete tasks?
There are several hacks that we can use to learn how and when to say no, and to stay calm and well-organized in dealing with the things we have said yes to.
For me, one of the biggest time drains has been dealing with things that I should have said no to but didn’t. Sometimes I have even sought out new opportunities when I was barely managing the things I was already doing. Until I learned how to say no firmly, I was at the mercy of whoever had my ear on a given day.
These are the steps that I now use to consider whether I should say yes or no to a project, learning opportunity, volunteer initiative, or other obligation:
When the request is made, I give myself time. If someone directly asks me to do something, I say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” If I receive an email with an interesting opportunity, I read it and then mark it as important so I can come back to it later.
Taking time to consider an opportunity allows me to tune in to my intuition. It is important to evaluate the pros and cons, but also to sit with the idea and see how it feels in the body. Have you ever said yes to something and then got a knot in the pit of your stomach after you walked away? This is your body sending you a message. We need to listen to our intuition before we make our decision.
Sit quietly and visualize yourself engaging in the activity. Imagine how you feel while you are doing it. Notice body sensations that come up. Is your heart beating slower or faster? Is your breathing relaxed or laboured? Do you feel tense in your neck and shoulders? How do you feel in your stomach and in your chest?
What does a yes feel like to you? If you aren’t sure, picture yourself in your favourite place and notice how that feels. Now picture yourself doing something you find very stressful and notice how that feels. Practise tuning into your body sensations to help you with your daily decision making.
If you notice that your answer to an opportunity feels like a yes intuitively in your body, take some time to think about the practicalities. How would this fit in my schedule? Does it align with my goals? Will it take away time from something else that is important to me?
Quite often, once we take time to go through this process, we will realize that we don’t want to take on another initiative or activity. And this is when we have to say no. Many women find this hard. We were taught to be helpful, caring, kind, and accommodating. Saying no can feel icky. But like so many things, it is a practice.
You do not have to give a reason when you say no. You don’t have to explain yourself. But if it helps to soften the answer, you can say something like, “I have decided not to take this on right now.”
You will be less overwhelmed, more organized, and more goal oriented if you know when to say no. Your time and energy are important, and taking the time to decide where to spend them is key to your success and well-being.
Janine is a counselling therapist and owner of Valley Counselling & Therapy in Grand Falls-Windsor, Newfoundland and Labrador; she is also a blogger, a cancer survivor, and a patient advocate. Janine loves spending time with her husband and three teenage children, walking her dogs, and reading.
You can view her blog by visiting her website at https://JanineCutting.com.