Say ‘no’ to busy

… as opposed to saying ‘no, too busy!’

Yesterday a colleague reminded me of one of the most effective ways to stop being busy – say ‘no’ more often. My wife deploys two versions of this approach.

Version #1

“Let me check my diary and get back to you.”

This is her ‘go to’ solution. It buys time to think (and check), it creates a space that can be filled by a polite ‘no’ or an exuberant ‘yes’. The point is that she reserves the right to choose. We also use a variation where we do not commit each other to anything without checking with the other – even things that look great get checked out first.

Version #2

“If I say yes to this, I’ll need to say no to something else.”

This technique recognises that we have to accept trade-offs if we are to avoid over-commitment. It reinforces the choice that she will make, and emphasises that what is being asked has a cost associated with it.

I like both approaches, although I’m not (yet) as proficient at using them as she is.


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