Putting yourself second - or last - can sap your energy and interrupt your creative flow. You know that straw that broke the camel's back? It might be a request, perhaps from a loved one, for you to do just "this one small thing." No wonder you don't get as much done in a day as you'd like. You can learn to say NO in a pleasant and appropriate way. And you won't turn into a meanie if you do it nicely.
Many familiar scenarios of would-be time-and-energy stealing are spelled out in The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It-and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever by Susan Newman, Ph.D. (one of our own PT bloggers).
To keep such interruptions from shoving you off course, consider the following strategies:
1. Make a list of all those times you said yes and agreed to do something for someone else in the course of a week. Then gauge your feelings after each event: resentful? pressured? Then you can start to define your limits, prioritize your time, and determine who and what are the major culprits when it comes to using up your time.
2. Practice. It gets easier once you break the pattern of automatically saying yes. I know some people whose automatic first reaction to all requests is no, and then they think a minute and may reverse themselves. Sounds kind of prickly. But you can break any pattern, including putting too much of your time at the mercy of others.
3. Avoid tasks that aren't rightfully yours. Say your friend wants you to speak to her boyfriend for her, to apologize for something she did and he's mad at her for. Tell her: "No, the two of you need to work this out for yourselves."
4. Beware a "compliment" that is meant to seduce you into extra work. Say your sister insists your gift wrappings are always so much more beautiful than hers, and would you please wrap hers for her? If the task is onerous to you or you don't have time, tell her: "No, your wrappings are just fine" (or "more than adequate").
5. Don't let your family use guilt to manipulate you into taking on too much. Say your child tells you that his coach wants an assistant and would you please do it? Respond that, though you'd love to be able to, it's just not possible. According to Newman, kids handle such disappointments quite well.
6. Don't drown in your own excuses. Say your mother asks you to come over to discuss something she doesn't want to talk about on the phone, as is her habit. Just say no. "Not possible today, Mom." Excuses will only lead to recriminations and waste more time.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Susan K. Perry, Follow me on Twitter @bunnyape