Five Tips to Help You Say “No”

Time becomes a precious commodity this time of year as the holidays approach and end-of-year work projects pile up. It can be especially difficult to balance work with preparing for holiday parties or traveling to visit family and friends. Saying “no” is part of smart time management that will help you enjoy the holiday season more. Saying no to opportunities and invitations can be difficult, so here are a few tips to help make the holiday season more enjoyable:

Avoid giving an immediate answer. It’s easy to agree to things when you are busy or distracted. Before you make a commitment, take a break. Simply say, “I will get back to you.” Then get away from your email, take a walk, or maybe even sleep on it. You’ll feel better about your decision either way.

Ask yourself if you would do it tomorrow. This is a good way to see if you really want to say yes or no. Just because something is scheduled three weeks out doesn’t mean you should agree to it. If it’s not attractive today, it won’t become attractive as the event date approaches.

Ask for a raincheck. This is particularly important during the holidays. If your calendar is getting too full, simply explain that this is a busy time and ask if the date can be scheduled for a later time when things slow down a bit.

Block time for “nothing” – really! If you are feeling overloaded, block time on your calendar for “nothing.” You don’t have to know what the time is for. The things that fill that time may feel like nothing, but it could be things that are vital to your well-being – like sleeping, reading a book, or just recharging.

Decline politely. A few ways to say no politely include:

  • “I just don’t have time right now.”
  • “Thank you for asking me, but I need to say no this time. Please keep me in mind for the future though!”
  • “This is a busy time, and I promised myself I wouldn’t take on more commitments right now.”

There is an old quote that says “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” That is a good phrase to keep in mind when you need to decline an offer for your own well-being. Those who care most will support your efforts to do what is best for your own well-being.

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