Discriminate what you say YES to
by Louise D'Allura on July 5th, 2011

What are you doing with your time?

Often people assume that just because I'm a professional organiser I must be uber organised and was born with the ability and skill to be organised and manage my time perfectly. The truth is organising space is easy for me - looking for systems is like breathing! Helping OTHERS find pockets of time and managing it - easy. Dealing with my own time? Let's just say I've had my struggles of using and abusing time. I think I'm getting more relaxed about sharing my story in the hope it helps others - because I am afterall, human.

I'm sure you've heard it before but time is the ONLY resource that once used - is used forever. I'm painfully reminded of this when I think to the things I wish I had done with friends and family when I had the chance.

The lesson I want to share with you is simple..... Discriminate what you say YES to

I know I know - you've heard it all before! Just say no! Oh it can be so annoying to hear - As if it is that simple?! And you know what - it isn't simple. It requires work to really change that habit. It is so ingrained that you have to really WANT to do things differently.

Doing it IS hard - but WORTH IT! Believe me I know!! If you're the person who says yes to every request for help, you're not alone. This was me: "Of course I can! I can do that - oh and do you need someone to do this too? Sign me up!"

If this sounds familiar it won’t surprise you to know that a lot of people who struggle with managing their time, hate to let others down by saying no - even if it leads to them being overwhelmed by work/ committments and no time for family. So much of my working life I felt I had to prove myself. I'd take on more and more to show how competent I was and not wanting to disappoint others. In the end all I ever did was dissappoint myself and feel like I wasn't working hard enough and efficient enough because I just couldn't seem to get through it all. And so started a vicious cycle.

Constantly helping others work on their priorities while my tasks got behind. I needed to work long hours to complete tasks. I wasn't able to finish the things I needed to in a normal business day and they built up and up and up. Add to the mix being a perfectionist - and I was wondering what was wrong with me because everything took so long! I was stuck in a tower of ‘stuff’ and struggling to get out while everyone else seems to be going on with their lives.

An Aha Moment.... Lived out out loud... very loud
I had an aha moment where I discovered I was not taking responsiblity for what I was doing to myself. I was at a workshop on looking at Your Mindset and the facilitator needed someone to work with - on stage. The perfectionist in me wanted to keep sitting quietly (you won't know what you're doing - you'll look silly) - but the people pleaser in noticed "not too many people have their hands up and I'd hate for the facilitator to feel that no-one was there for them." The people pleaser in me won out - and up went my hand. oh dear....

Let's just say that people pleaser part of me got the shock of its life - once the light was shone on that part of myself - you can not take back what you've learnt - I was being a "people pleaser" in the wrong parts of my life and allowing it to run my life in cahoots with my "perfectionist". What a gift - an opportunity if you like, to do something different! I grabbed that with both hands and I haven't looked back. I know WHY I am saying yes and saying no - simply because I take the time to hear myself think!

Do you feel guilty when you say no?
Now the thing is - that people pleaser is still in me. I'm just more willing to question my automatic response to say YES to everything. I'm discriminating - is this for my higher good and the good of my family, what about the business? Am I REALLY the only person who can do this? Who else had the knowledge or skill to do this? By saying YES what opportunities am I depriving someone else from learning?

Instead of doing things out of habit or tradition, I've learnt to think it through. Unfortunately we are trained so early in our lives to be helpful that it can be to our detriment. This secret is about identifying your automatic habits.

Some of these might be:
  • Saying yes too quickly to invitations and requests.
  • Constantly helping others work on their priorities while your tasks get behind. If you need to work long hours to complete your tasks this might be something that you're doing.

Most of us have ‘triggers’ that flick us into ‘yes’ mode.
It could be specific people who flick your switch or perhaps there is something deeper inside that you need to track down and identify. When you take on all this extra work there will be a payoff for you, even if you don’t realise it.

What might the payoff be for you? Feeling needed, appearing reliable and even indispensible? I know that is what it was for me and without realizing it I had trained people to come to me to solve every little problem for them!

It’s OK to say no. It’s healthy to say no. You have the right to say no. You aren’t responsible for other people’s problems. A great little story I once heard from a Buddhist monk was "Just because someone drops elephant dung on your doorstep - does not mean you need to be the one pick it up." How cool is that?!

One of the things that will help you accept your right to say ‘no’ is to understand what triggers your switch. When you know what they are, you can deal with them and prepare for them.


How to Get Started: Find Your Triggers

Pull out a notebook and:
  • Ask yourself “What or who do you always say yes to?”
  • Describe the situation you tend to be in. e.g. In front of others, in a meeting, it’s your mum/ mother in law asking…….
  • Describe how it makes you feel? What emotions run through you? E.g. guilt, pride, panic…

By working out whether there is a place or time that really puts you under pressure to accept the work you can start to build some strategies to manage the situation.

So, in your notebook, for each situation you described as a trigger I want you to write down some answers to this question:

Instead of saying yes, what else could I say or do?

By working this way through each of your trigger points, you will have some alternate strategies in place for the next time someone wants to flick that switch.

When you are able to say no, you're on your way to reduce the chaos in your life. Believe me I really do know what it is like!


Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Time Management; Saying Yes


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