Why it’s empowering to say ‘no’

Don’t always say ‘yes’. You need to pay attention to your priorities, your tired body, your gut instincts. Image: rawpixel.com

You know the feeling when your friends are trying to drag you for a night out? You definitely want to see them but you know it would mean putting your work on “pause”.

You convince yourself that a couple of hours can’t hurt. You’ll just finish it off later but two hours become almost four, and when you return home, the last thing you want to do is more work because it’s already so late.

You assure yourself that you will wake up early in the morning to finish it off. The next day, your alarm is on snooze and you have trouble waking up so you never got around to finishing that work.

So what happens? New work comes your way and you struggle to give it your 100% attention because you are still trying to cut through all your “old” work.

Does any of this sound familiar? As work starts to pile up, you feel overwhelmed as deadlines draw closer and it becomes challenging to be fully present when you have all this work hanging over your head as “unfinished business”.

Looking back, you regret the impulsive decisions you made during the week that cost you your sleep and precious time.

Learning to say ‘no’

The trick is to learn to say “no”. When someone invites you to a party and your mind is impulsively saying “yes” but your body is saying “no”, listen to your body.

If you know you have to be up early, and you’re already so tired, it’s a strong indicator that you will wake up feeling un-refreshed and if you keep doing this to yourself, physical strain meets mental fatigue. It’s just a matter of time that your work suffers too.

Just remember that deadlines do not move for us. They just keep moving closer to us, so do yourself a favour and tackle whatever is coming your way head-on, rather than putting it aside.

It’s all about knowing what your priorities are. It may even help to write them down in order of importance because there’s something satisfying about crossing them off your “to-do” list.

Every time you finish one job on your “to-do” list, for instance, there’s this wonderful feeling of accomplishment.

Businesswoman talking in a seminar
Release any sentimentality about a situation, even when at work, and just say ‘no’. Image: rawpixel.com

Getting your priorities right

Once you know what your priorities are, work on what’s most important or urgent, rather than letting everything pile up on you.

It’s easier said than done to screen out distractions and you surely don’t want to let our friends down, so pick and choose what is vital, and let go of the rest so that you do not overload yourself with appointments.

These appointments also include work meetings that you feel may be time wasters. You cannot afford to be agreeing to meetings because you feel obligated to say “yes”.

If you find yourself struggling to say “no” to someone, then release any sentimentality about the situation and just say “no”.

When you keep a meeting out of obligation you are not just wasting your time, you’re wasting someone else’s as well.

Have you noticed how a 3.00pm meeting outside the office combined with travel time and the traffic to get there and back, can just about wipe out your entire afternoon?

Respect your time

Time is precious and our weekends are a classic case in point, especially for the workaholics who need to slow down or stop and smell the roses. Respect your weekends and the quality time you may not have during the week to do the things you really want to do or see the people you want to see. Put these priorities first.

A father who is perpetually on the move may need to know when to say “no” to a meeting if it can be rescheduled, so that he can be present for his child’s first recital.

There are some things clearly worth fighting for and only you will know the difference between sticking to an appointment to “give face” versus the ones you would genuinely show up to, in a heartbeat.

It’s not rocket science. We just need to pay more attention to our priorities, our tired bodies, including our gut instincts. As much as you want to say “yes”, you might be far more empowered and less burdened when you say “no”.

In business, time is money, as they say and sometimes saying “no” is essential to respecting your own time and space.

Jojo Struys is a regional TV host, speaker and wellness personality. She is also the founder of OhanaJo Studio, Malaysia’s largest yoga and sound healing space (www.ohanajo.com)