Save Your Time: Learn to Say “No”

Posted under Time Management on Monday 17 November 2008 at 10:16 pm

Your sister asked you to babysit her child, your boyfriend calls you every night and makes you listen to his mindless jokes, your colleague regularly asks you to cover up for her or help her to finish the report as soon as possible, your best friend is looking for a job and repeatedly asks you to talk to your boss about him. Isn’t this familiar to you? “No” is such a simple word, which, however, is sometimes very difficult to say instead of “I’ll be glad to help you!” How many times you have said “yes” and agreed to do something which is not important to you? In how many situations you should have said “no” but felt responsible or polite to the others? Tell me truly, was it always the best solution, to say “yes“?

Just Say NoOne of the first rules for those, who want to learn how to prioritize, is to get rid of enforced things and “duties”. You should learn to say “no” in those situations, when the others try to force you to do something that is not in your plans or has nothing to do with your personal goals and values. Learn to set personal boundaries and protect your own sanity, otherwise you will soon feel exhausted and overloaded with your own issues and your “obligations” to help, to be there, to listen, to look after, and so on. Be selective and choose only the battles you truly want to fight for other people. Do not go with the flow, and only in such case you will be able to achieve your personal and professional goals.

Now, you can say “Wait! You want me to say “no” to my friends and people who really need my help in order to save my time? You want me to ignore their needs and earn a fame of a hard-hearted and ill-mannered person?” And I will say – “No!“This is the last idea I would like to promote, because in our daily life we do really need to help and support our friends and close people a lot. All I want you to understand is that saying “yes“to never ending non-critical daily demands that are re-placed onto your shoulders can take your attention off your own priorities, affect your chances to achieve success and limit your personal freedom to a great extent!

Certainly, reliable people who are always ready to assist and support are of a great value in any society, however, there must be limits. Moreover, frequently your friends do not seem to appreciate your readiness to help at any time. That is why you must learn compromise. Certainly, when it is really necessary and does not ruin your plans, you can babysit your niece one day or talk to your boss about your friend as a new potential employee. This way you will demonstrate your love and concern about your close people. However, if you can not do this by some reason, do not be afraid to say “no“, politely but assertively.

Our society is stricken with “a disease to please“, that is why saying “no” is strictly connected with certain fears of breaking down the people we love by refusing to help them, as well as fears of hurting someone’s feelings or being rejected for such behavior. The only way to prevent all these negative effects of saying “no” is to deliver the message in the most effective way. There are some tips for those, who want to master this effective technique:

  • Do not accompany your “no” with weak and unrealistic excuses. Ask for some time to think over the request and find the most rational and clear supportive arguments for your negative answer.
  • In some situations it makes sense not to say “no” directly, but use some verbal signs to demonstrate your negative response. However, if you know that the person you are dealing with can be too very insistent and will go on bothering you all the time, it is better to say a direct and assertive “no“. Moreover, for some people only aggressive “no” will work: “Are you kidding? Me, picking your laundry on Sunday morning while you are out of town?
  • Use logical explanations for your negative answers. Make a person understand that there is something more important to you than the request. “You know, I would gladly give you a lift, but Mrs. Hauer have asked me to pick her up, and you truly hate each other, don’t you?
  • Use non-verbal signs to show the person that you do not really want to do what is requested. Speak with a firm and assertive voice and look into the person’s eyes when saying “no“. Be honest and polite. Some of the best ways to start your speech are: “I’m sorry, but I must turn down your request this time because…” or “Oh, I wish I could help you now, but…

Do not think that a refusal to give a hand to other people with their daiy duties is something to be ashamed of or feel guilty about. Saying “no” is an honorable answer! You and only you are the master of your personal time, and nobody else has a right to trench upon your time and use it for satisfying own needs. Learn to say “no” and be ready to hear “no” from other people as well. However, the effects can be really positive: you will be valued and respected for your “yes” and for your “no“. The main idea is to make people around you understand that saying “no” does not turn a person into your enemy.

Prioritizing: Spend Your Time Only for the Most Important Things!

Posted under Time Management on Tuesday 28 October 2008 at 4:11 am

I want it all, and I want it now!” Freddie Mercury was singing in one of the best songs of Queen in the late 80s. Yes, people want to have a lot of things: an interesting and non-stressful job, a loving family, plenty of money, a well-appointed house, caring and well-educated children, loyal friends, good health and God knows what else. However, no matter how hard we try, the truth is: we have no time for everything! Sooner or later we have to stop and decide what we want the most: a distinguished career, or a long purse and deep pocket, or a homely home, or our personal freedom. Sooner or later we have to make a choice, and effective time management can also help us to set our priorities.

PrioritizingUndoubtedly, the concept of prioritizing is one of the key ideas of the whole time management theory – it is one of its foundation stones! Prioritizing means making choices, what to do right now and what not to do. Well-developed prioritizing skills and abilities to evaluate, what task is the most important in a certain period of time, are crucial for every successful person and for those, who want to achieve long-term goals. Prioritizing also can help us distinguish between urgent, the most important and the most rewarding tasks, and learn to focus on them.

In time management books and theories, there are many ways and techniques of complex prioritizing, which include various matrixes or using 5-6 criteria for evaluation of the tasks. Well, in order to save our time and not to get confused in this everything, I offer using a very simple model, which always works for me and will, certainly, work for you, my dear readers. This model is very simple and can be used at any time and for any type of tasks or activities you need to do. This is basically how it works.

1.    Make a list of everything that must be done or you want to be done for a certain period of time (a working day, a week, a year, etc.). Remember, that making a written list of the tasks or activities is very effective for the beginners, that is why write down every thing that comes to your mind!
2.    Evaluate every single task and activity in your to-do list. Ask yourself a question: “Will something terrible happen if I don’t accomplish this item as soon as possible?” “Is this really something that MUST be done no matter what?” If the answer is “Yes“, then this item is an A Priority item, the highest priority task or activity.
3.    If the task is important, rewarding and quite urgent, but still can be postponed for some time, it belongs to the second category, or B Priority.
4.    All the rest of the tasks and activities in your list have to be considered C Priorities, or not important items. Ask yourself, “Will something happen if I don’t accomplish this item at all?” If the answer is “No”, you can leave these tasks for better times.

That’s all. Everything you need to do is to learn setting the priorities on a regular basis and spending your time only for doing those tasks, which fall under your A and B categories. This model can assist you greatly in distinguishing those tasks, which will make you closer to your goals and stimulate your personal progress day by day, from the other, less useful and important duties or activities.

Unfortunately, many of us feel lazy to spend time for prioritizing. We do a great deal of things and tasks that appear in our working schedules or are a part of our daily routine and simply need to be accomplished, without asking questions about the priorities. However, prioritizing is a very important approach which effectively works for improving productivity, achieving better results and higher time efficiency, being focused only on important tasks and more oriented on long-term goals, and so on.

Time Management: The First Practical Tips for Everyone

Posted under Time Management on Sunday 31 August 2008 at 1:09 pm

Time ManagementI looked through my previous entries and realized that we still did not make any practical step that could help us become more organized and change our attitude toward the way we spend our time. That’s a shame of mine, and thank you, my dear readers, for your great patience and continuous interest. Now, instead of going on talking about planning, scheduling, analyzing our daily routine and other boring concepts of time management, we will come strictly to the point and try to launch a small attack on our tardiness and slowness.

One thing I need to tell you before we begin. After reading several books on time management and trying all those tips they recommend, I realized that the best way to move ahead and achieve some progress is to make changes in life and introduce new rules gradually. No need to think that if you want to become more organized, you need to start the next day with 20 minutes of panning, thinking about the priorities, trying to fit the schedules and spending crazy efforts for this everything. No way! So, let’s come to action, ladies and gentlemen! Let’s see what we can do right away to save some minutes for effective work and for more effective leisure.

1. Have you ever thought that spending so much time for gathering yourself up and collecting your energies before you actually come to work in the morning is a serious waste of time? Many people have a habit of starting their working day with a cup of tea or coffee, a smoke or a little chat with the colleagues, but sometimes it takes really long, so their day begins much later than it could. Therefore, our first step will be directed on minimization of the time you need to focus and get to the point! For example, at the start of your working day you used to read the news online for 30 minutes or so. Try to decrease this time to 10 minutes and begin dealing with your tasks 20 minutes earlier than you usually do: most probably, you will notice positive changes in the end of the day.

2. It can fall into a little controversy with the previous idea, but frequently a special habit or ritual that we always practice before starting our working day, can be a good sign for our mind to get concentrated and come to work right away. A friend of mine starts her day with a cup of herbal tea, and another friend of mine always needs to listen to some hip-hop to feel refreshed in the morning. The main idea of this recommendation is to develop such a “hook” for your mind which will allow you not to delay your getting down to work (like watching news or chatting with friends), but ring the bells in your mind for immediate action. For example, if you start your day with a cup of coffee, you can drink it while you are checking out you business e-mails or cleaning your table from dozens of papers left from the day before. Make your morning ritual fit your type of work, and let it be a sign for your mind to get focused on your routine as soon as possible.

3. This is a new rule that will help us deal with small and not urgent, but very unpleasant tasks. For example, a single guy usually postpones doing such chores as ironing or taking out his garbage, a secretary can postpone writing an apology e-mail to the company’s potential client or talking to her tight-fisted boss about upgrading her computer. Sometimes we collect a plenty of such tasks on our shoulders that usually makes us nervous and increases pressure causing new stresses. Why to stand on this day by day? Make a new rule: eat a frog every day! Chose ONE task or duty that you’d really like to avoid doing, pull yourself together and accomplish this task. Make it a habit of yours and, believe me, the outcomes will be beyond your expectations. You will fell really relaxed and proud of yourself!

4. Finally, today’s last tip. Many people put off doing bulky and difficult tasks (pleasant or unpleasant) for the reasons we already know (“Don’t know where to begin!”, “No, I am unequal to this task!”, “Oh, it will take all of my time and I will get tired!”, “Hmmm, I’d better ask my boss, how to deal with this!”, “Hell, no! I will never manage with this!”, etc. etc.). First of all, stop making a mountain out of a molehill! Any huge task can turn into a simple list of activities. Break down your rock into small pieces and every day move away some of them. Than, in a week or two, your way will be clear and your formidable task will be completed without any worries and stresses.

I hope this helps.

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