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: What We Have to Know About It

Posted under Time Management on Saturday 30 August 2008 at 1:51 am

A man who dares waste one hour of time
has not discovered the value of life
Charles Darwin

Everyone knows that time management is a special technology of time optimization that helps people use their time more effectively, according to everyone’s special goals and personal values. Undoubtedly, this concept is a great organizational tool for everyone, but especially for those who always have lack of time. Those people who have developed good time management skills usually have no problem with setting up absolutely realistic objectives or goals and achieving those goals by using their time in the most effective way. However, everyone must understand that if you want to reach some progress and become more self organized, such practices as planning and controlling your time have to turn into an ineradicable habit of yours.

Certainly, you can argue that we do not always have hold on time and our life is full of surprises that frequently ruin our plans. This is right, just like a known proverb says: man proposes, God disposes. Well, every morning (or every evening before going to sleep) the majority of us usually makes some plans for coming day and schedules the things that must be done. But very frequently something unexpected or urgent comes up in our daily routine, so we have to switch our attention and efforts to doing those “unplanned” things that sometimes are quite bulky and boring. That is why in the evening we have to admit to ourselves again and again that our plans did not work due to the circumstances that are beyond our control.

However, using the approach of effective time management you can interpret this situation in a different way. If you tried really hard and spent a lot of efforts to make your plans come true (despite of any urgent things and circumstances), you do not have to regret for the planned things you could not accomplish. But if you usually spend the most of your time for coffee breaks, chatting with your colleagues and smoking, you will not be happy even with those few things that you managed to accomplish during the day. In such case, knowing basic skills of time management can be very useful for you to develop a responsible approach to everything you do.

Time management was a subject of interest of many specialists and progressive thinkers of the last century. For example, our glorious president Benjamin Franklin was one of the pioneers of modern time management. He formulated several important principles based on his famous Success Strategies. These principles must be considered to be the major postulates of classic time management and generally they can be put to the following:

1. Plan your things, or they will “plan” you. In order to achieve success, you must have a specific plan and specific goals for your future.

2. Time is the most priceless asset of yours. This resource can not be collected, stored up or extended, that is why effective organization of our time is the only way to maximize its utility.

3. Develop the skills to distinguish major things from minor things. Effective time management includes developing the abilities to prioritize the tasks and specify the ones that must be done (no matter what) and the ones that should better be done (but can be possibly postponed).

4. Set up realistic plans, try to stick to those plans and make it a habit of yours.

Remember these principles and try to keep them in mind all the time. However, do not think that time management is something related only to planning! Philosophy of time management is focused around the following idea: if a man wants to get freedom for something, he has to limit his freedom in something else. So, time management is a technique that can help you free your time for something you truly wish to spend your time for. Moreover: effective time management can help you spend your time for something really important, and the earlier you learn its secrets, the more effective and interesting every day of your life gonna be!

You can say: “No, I do not believe in this! Time management is too ideal concept that does not work in real life!” Do not give up on this, really! All you need is to set up more ambitious goals (your personal goals) and do everything possible to achieve them! Aspire to impossible things, and you will receive maximum! Therefore, you do not have to develop anything ideal: just try to be as closer to the ideal as possible. You can certainly do it by adopting the system of effective time management for your life.

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