Tips on How to Say “No”

Work Life Balance

Do you have time anxiety?

Time is moving too fast.  There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get through the to-do list; especially if you’re a solopreneur, who, like me, loses track of time when you’re working at something you love.

The work-life balance phrase seems so redundant these days that it doesn’t have the impact it once had.  And who’s to say what’s the right mix. To me, the balance includes giving the mind and body a break from life’s anxieties, to feel a sense of happiness and contentment.  For example, I like to listen to music while I walk. Most of the time I don’t hear the lyrics, I escape to cloudland.

However, sometimes I can be seen with my earbuds — not listening to music but to a webinar I was unable to attend, or a podcast on leadership development. Some would debate this is not work-life balance if I’m listening to “work” on my walks.  But I’m happy and I’m content.

I think work-life balance is about time management. Effectively implementing time management will reduce stress and help bring balance to life in and out of the office.   It’s prioritizing the demands of your personal life at home, as well as the demands at work.  It’s not an equal balance, but rather what’s important during that time.

Learn to Say ‘No’

Managing time requires that people learn to say “no.” This may sound mean, but it is not possible to meet everyone’s needs. You must learn to say “no” kindly but firmly.

The ability to say no is a powerful time management tool.

Balance is about living in alignment with what’s important to you.  It takes a lot of energy to live your life according to someone else’s expectations.

Do not allow people to talk you into “urgent” tasks.  It’s important to stick with a schedule and plan of action. Do not deviate unless it is a true emergency. For example, proofing a colleague’s letter is not an emergency that you must complete at once. Complete your important tasks first.

The Urgent/Important Matrix

Let’s not confuse what’s urgent with important. Urgent tasks do need to be done quickly, but that does not make them important.

We are often stuck completing urgent tasks at the expense of the important ones. Important tasks are the ones that help us meet goals. Often, urgent tasks, such as fixing the copy machine, are distractions from what is important.

Learning the difference between urgent and important will improve time management skills.

Take a look at this Urgent/Important Matrix and consider if the following are urgent or important:

  1. Returning an email
  2. Staff Meeting
  3. Gossiping
  4. Completing a project
  5. Exercise
  6. Training a colleague
  7. Chatting with the boss
  8. Sleeping
  9. Proofreading a document

Stay Flexible

Flexibility is an important skill.

Life is a fluctuation and cannot be predicted; thus, it’s important to stay calm when you’re thrown a curveball.  Inflexible people crumble when change beyond their control happens. They are unable to think clearly and control their emotions when something unpleasant or difficult that they have experienced. Being flexible simply means that you are not resisting the inevitable changes of life.

Flexibility is not passivity. It is being able to embrace change. This will reduce stress and improve work-life balance. For example, car trouble will throw off your schedule, so do not try to keep up with your tasks that day.

80/20 Rule

According to the 80/20 rule, 80 percent of our success is the result of only 20 percent of our actions.  This basically means if you have ten things on your to-do list, two of them will be more valuable than the remaining eight put together.

Stop being “busy.”

The rule implies that we should place our focus on the 20 percent of activities that are the most successful. This requires that we prioritize goals. When this is done, concentrate on the 20 percent of activities that aggressively move you towards those goals. Give most of your attention to this 20 percent.