Reclaim Time - Just Say No

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Today we’re going to look at three ways to reclaim some time and have the ability to do the things you really want to do.

You are busy. Probably busier than the people around you realize. I think you’re busier than you even realize. Between email, coffee meetings, email, work schedules, email, kids’ schedules, email, and trying to find time for yourself, email, it’s all just too much.

The trouble is, people have direct access to you. It used to be that they had to wait until you were near a phone (the kind that was attached to the wall with a cord) or until they could see you face-to-face to gain your attention. Now, all it takes is a tweet, an email, Anchor notification, or a Facebook message and your attention is taken off task. Yeah, being unreachable is a thing of the past. It’s difficult to go dark.

Admit it. It is too much.

And now that you’ve admitted it, you just have to decide what you’re going to do about it. My suggestion? Learn to say “no.”

I know, I know, it’s really hard to say no. So many people have said “yes” to you, and you feel like you have to do the same. Stop it. Every time you say yes, you’re saying no to something else (like a life), whether you like it or not. You have to draw a line, not in the sand, but in something more concrete than sand… Like concrete.

How can you say “no” more often?

  • In text or email, make it easier by pre-thinking through what your response would be to requests you need to say no to. How about something like, “Hey, thank you for wanting to meet; I appreciate it so much. Could we continue this conversation via email? I may be able to address your concerns more quickly.” That’s one of my most used and if you want to be next level, do what I do. Have that bit of text ready to copy and paste right into an email. Do you want to NEXT next level, use an app called TextExpander and use a shortcut to drop that text in. We’ll cover that another day.
  • Say no to meetings you know you’re just going to hand off anyway. Make the connection without doing the transitional meeting. It’s okay to do this because you’re saving time for everyone involved. Saying, “I may not be the best person to ask. Let me connect you with someone who can help with this,” shows that you’ve given the situation some thought and are expediting the solution. I’ve sat through too many meetings where I’m the third wheel the second I introduce to two people to one another.
  • Have a plan in place that allows you to say yes when you really want to say yes. This includes a plan for saying no when you need to say no. If your schedule is full of the no crowd, you’ve filled up the space that would be better used by helping the people you’d like to help. Put time blocks in your calendar that are just blocked out for those special occasions we want to say yes to. We all know this, but time is limited. You only have a finite amount of it. I love my family too much to fill my nights and weekends by saying “yes” to more unnecessary work and “no” to having fun with my wife and kids.
In your life, where do you need to say no? And where do you need to say no more frequently? I know, for me, I need fewer coffee meetings where I’m sneaking glances at the clock and kicking myself for taking a meeting that should have been over email or the phone.

Have questions? Email me at or tweet me @rexbokc and I’ll try to give you a few personalized tips for your specific problem. Just remember, I might tell you that I can’t help. You might just get proof that I say “no” a lot.

Rex Barrett @rexbarrett