The Most Powerful Word to Put You Back in Control of Your Time

Do you ever find yourself running out of time during the day? Do you review your to-do list at the end of the day with a heavy heart because so many items were left undone?  Do you feel frustrated about your lack of progress on your goals?

If you answered YES, you are not alone. Many entrepreneurs find themselves challenged in this way. [Heck, many people do!] There is always so much to do! And if you are a solopreneur, like me, whose business is growing, you are wearing many hats at any given time. It can be truly overwhelming when you review your list of priorities, which may include everything from accounting to marketing to purchasing to manufacturing all in one day! Even though you may not have a boss yourself, you can feel like your time is not your own as you strive to meet the needs of your clients, suppliers, partners, and employees. Oh! Let’s not forget your family who often want your attention, too!

The good news is that there is one simple thing that you can do to change how you feel. There is one little word that you can use that will put you back in control of your time. It will increase your productivity, decrease your stress, and create more time for you to invest in your business, your family, and yourself.

That word is NO.

All you have to do is just say NO.

Sounds easy, right? Ha! You may even be rolling your eyes as you read this because you know how hard it is to say NO. You may be thinking, “Lisa, if I don’t do it all, how will it get done?” When you own your own business, it is a fact of life that you have to work hard and, in the beginning, juggling many competing and complementary interests. This is true. But if you are really honest with yourself [another seemingly simple thing that is not always so easy], you will find that there are many times throughout the day when you say YES when really, you don’t have to. Am I right?

Another truth is that you struggle to say NO because of a sense of obligation or duty and the ugly feeling of guilt that consumes you even if you consider saying NO.

Let’s talk about guilt. Why do you feel guilty when you turn down an invitation or request? I’m sure you have a good reason. Let’s consider the reasons why you might consider saying NO:

  • You’ve booked that time to work on another project.
  • You don’t have enough money in your budget.
  • You have another commitment at the same time.
  • You already volunteer 5 nights a week.
  • You had planned a weekend getaway with your spouse.
  • You haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in weeks.

Do these seem like plausible reasons to say NO? If you asked a friend, colleague, or employee to do something and she responded with one of those points, would you be ok with that?

Think about times when you have said YES and then regretted it because it negatively impacted your business or your relationships? Consider times that you said YES and then failed to keep that commitment? Although the initial pangs of guilt were temporarily quelled, I’m willing to bet, it was even greater when you disappointed yourself and others by not living up to your promises.

It is guilt that robs us of our power. It makes us feel that we are not worthy of living with integrity and honouring our personal values. Guilt comes from a place of scarcity and lack. It sends a message that you aren’t good enough, capable enough or talented enough. Guilt comes from a place of fear. And in that place, there is no opportunity to be all that you can be.

Generally, we say NO because we do not have sufficient time, energy or money. Other times, we say NO because our values are compromised. If that is the case, then let go of the guilt. Decline the invitation or request with conviction and stay in integrity.

I think it’s time to kick guilt to the curb, start saying NO when it serves your higher purpose, and get back in control of your time. You, your business, and your family deserve that, don’t you think?

Check in with your gut the next time someone makes a request of you. Ask yourself, “Do I want to invest my time, energy and money here? Could my time, energy and money be spent on something else that would help me meet my personal or professional goals?” Choose to respond in a manner that will leave you feeling confident and content. Choose to respond so that your values and integrity are honoured.

If the answer is NO, say it with conviction. Most of the time, neither an apology nor an explanation is warranted. You have your reasons. You know what they are. That’s all that matters.

Remember, you have the right to say NO. When you exercise it, you will regain control over your time. Look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of your choice; be proud that you took your power back.  Now you can get to work creating a life that excites you!

outdoor-headshot_July2012Lisa L. Payne, BBA, MER, CPC is President of Connections for Success Inc. To her corporate clients, she offers executive coaching, motivational addresses, and a new interactive workshop called “Engage and Excite Your Team through Change: 7 Steps to Create a Culture of Empowerment.” She is also the author of “What If They Knew? Secrets of an Impressive Woman.” Check out her website for coaching programs and corporate workshops, or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or YouTube.


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