Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tip 70: Just Say No

Whatever happened to that classic anti-drug campaign of the 80s? Good news! I'm bringing it back, just in a slightly different format...Today someone tried to make me feel guilty for saying no, and it got me thinking about an important personal philosophy...

Tip 70: Know your limits. A key to staying organized is to prioritize your time and not feel guilty when you have to say "no."

As organized people, we are frequently bombarded with requests that pose an extra strain on our time. The refrain goes something like this: "You're so organized that I thought it would be easy for you to...." or "But come on, you're so organized! You'd be perfect for..."

A wise person told me when I was a first year teacher that I needed to be comfortable saying no sometimes to requests from colleagues to perform extra work (for no additional compensation). Of course, there are times when it's very appropriate to say yes -- when a new project sounds appealing, when you have a personal investment in something, when you just want to be a good person and help someone out. In some jobs new employees take on extra work to stand out or to try to move up the ladder faster. (This is more relevant in careers where there actually is a ladder. There's no ladder in teaching.)

But you only have so much time in the day, and -- as another wise and now-retired colleague told me a couple years later -- you have to take care of yourself because no one else is going to.

Learning to say no is a philosophy that extends well beyond jobs. How many times have you complained or heard others complain about friend or family "obligations"? Rather than dread a certain social engagement, just say no. I'm not advocating selfishness or a hermit's lifestyle, but I am advocating cutting ourselves some slack and allowing ourselves to be honest and unwind when necessary.

Ultimately, learning to say no requires:
1) Confidence
2) Recognition of your our self worth

If your value yourself, you'll value your time. You'll know what you're worth in a monetary sense as well, especially as you evaluate your career opportunities. It's not selfish to take care of yourself.

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