There was a time when I would say yes to everything. Not because I thought I had the ability to do it all, but because I felt I looked lazy if I wasn’t doing something all the time. I had to learn to say no.
There was also an issue of how to handle things I didn’t want to do; a sense of obligation to every social invitation or event taking place. Perhaps it was a sense of wanting to please people. I didn’t have a “reason” for not wanting to go, so felt obligated. I had to learn to say no.
I’d be lying if I said I never struggle with it today. However, I’ve learned how important it is to preserve time, my most valuable resource. I had to learn to say no.
Top tips for saying “no”
Keep it simple: don’t try and complicate things. Don’t concocted elaborate reasons or excuses. A simple, “thanks for asking, but I’m not able to…” is enough. You don’t need the asker’s permission to say no.
Focus on your goals and priorities: If you have a plan for managing your work and time, it is easier to say no to new activities that don’t fit into your agenda. There’s a saying that goes, “A person who does not have goals is used by someone who does.”
Be assertive and courteous: Try saying something like, “I’m sorry I’m not able to right now, but will let you know when and if I can.” This approach is polite, and puts you in a position of power by taking charge of the exchange, telling people you’ll let them know.
Look for compromises: Perhaps you feel the request is good, but you can’t meet the requirement right now. Look for ways to move the request forward that works for both parties. Be careful that compromising is not just another way to avoid saying “no”.
Leave it open-ended: Sometimes you’re in a position where you can’t say no for sure. A year ago, I was asked to consider becoming president of our Rotary Club for this year. At the time I was asked, I couldn’t say yes due to some unknowns coming in the new year. I said “no” at that moment but told them to ask again early in year. They came back in February and I was able to say yes, as the unknowns had been defined.
IT’S NOT ABOUT SAYING “NO” TO EVERYTHING
Sometimes you need to say “yes” to further your personal goals and priorities. Perhaps you have a goal of becoming a subject-matter expert in a particular topic or area. Getting your name out there might involve extra speaking engagements, or some side-hustle work beyond your regular responsibilities. Then, as you become more aware of what is and isn’t right for you, you can say “no” to those invitations that don’t move your goals forward.
The hidden lesson to all this? As you effectively learn to say “no”, your “yes” becomes far more powerful.
I was planning to write this post last week, but I put it off.
Okay, now that the obligatory bad joke is out of the way, we can look at another internal time waster, procrastination.
We all put things off. We hope to avoid tasks that are boring, difficult, unpleasant, etc. When faced with something we don’t want to do, we can find a dozen tasks of no consequence to fill our time.
We secretly hope that, by procrastinating, the unpleasant task will shrink and go away. Unfortunately, the reverse is often true; the deferred job just gets bigger and more difficult.
Overcoming procrastination requires strategy. The next time you’re tempted to put off something you don’t want to do, try some of these tips:
- Set a deadline – a task without a deadline can be put off indefinitely. Set a date and stick to it.
- Set up a reward system – make it commensurate with the task. An afternoon cleaning out the garage is worth dinner out, while a 14 month software roll-out might warrant a tropical vacation.
- Arrange for a follow-up – assign someone to be a “nag-buddy”. Give them permission to check in periodically to make sure you’re staying on track.
- Do it first – tackle difficult jobs early in the day, when you have the most energy.
- Break the task into small pieces – if the whole seems too big to tackle, break it into manageable sub-tasks.
- Avoid over-thinking – Doubts will arise for even the most confident of people and doubt can lead to procrastination. Try doubting your doubts.
- Do it now – don’t put if off any longer. Sometimes you just have to jump in and get it done.
- Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James
- Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday. ~Don Marquis
- There are a million ways to lose a work day, but not even a single way to get one back. ~Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister
- You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin
- Someday is not a day of the week. ~Author Unknown
- Don’t fool yourself that important things can be put off till tomorrow; they can be put off forever, or not at all. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic’s Notebook, 1960
- Procrastination is opportunity’s assassin. ~Victor Kiam
- The best way to get something done is to begin. ~Author Unknown
- Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. ~Spanish Proverb
- Putting off an easy thing makes it hard. Putting off a hard thing makes it impossible. ~George Claude Lorimer
- Tomorrow is the only day in the year that appeals to a lazy man. ~Jimmy Lyons
- A year from now you may wish you had started today. ~Karen Lamb
- Procrastination is the thief of time. ~Edward Young
Over the years, I’ve posted some thoughts on behaviours and practices that can get in the way of our productivity. To help bring some of these forwarded, this post will link to past articles, as well as adding some new material on common time-wasters.
I’ve broken these time-wasters into two groups. Internal are those things which we generate. External are those things that come at us from outside sources: both types can be controlled.
- Inability to say no
- Uninvited visitors
- Incoming communication
- Unproductive meetings
Mentoring can be one of the most effective means of teaching: inviting someone to learn from the example of another with more experience. Whether through apprenticeships, internships or less-formal relationships, walking alongside an experienced practitioner can impart essential skills, attitudes and knowledge.
Being a mentor doesn’t mean having all the answers to every question. A good mentor know which questions to ask to stimulate development in their protégeé.
Some of the questions mentors ask:
- What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
- How can I help you?
- Where are your skills being tested?
- Where is your character being tested?
- How is your relationship/communication style effecting what you are trying to accomplish?
- What are some new things you could try?
- What are some things that would help you to have more integrity?
- What challenges have you faced and what were some of the effects of those challenges?
- How has that shaped who you are?
- How can you use your past to prepare you for the future?
- Even though things haven’t worked out as you’d hoped, what are you learning from that?
- As you assess your growth, where do you see yourself right now?
Did you know that Google offers a suite of tools to qualified non-profits? These are premium, licensed Google products , but at no cost. These products can help your organization reach new donors and volunteers, work more efficiently, and tell your non-profit’s story. They are cloud-based tools, managed by Google, which may help reduce your IT costs.
Google for Nonprofits includes Google Apps for Nonprofits, Google Ad Grants, YouTube Nonprofit Program, and Google Earth Pro. Canadian registered charities, Federal nonprofits and Provincial nonprofits may be eligible to apply for the program. Please note, some types of organizations are not eligible and will not be verified:
- Governmental entities or organizations
- Hospitals and healthcare organizations
- Schools, academic institutions, or universities
A quick summary of the products offered*:
G Suite for Nonprofits
Enable your teams to collaborate, iterate, and innovate together, from anywhere, in real time, with our cloud-based productivity suite.
Google Ad Grants
Receive in-kind advertising for your nonprofit through Google Search and increase awareness worldwide.
YouTube Nonprofit Program
Share your nonprofit videos through YouTube to better connect with supporters, volunteers, and donors.
Google Earth and Maps
Bring your nonprofit’s story to life with custom maps and global location data.
Build nonprofit fundraising campaigns that tie supporters’ donations to their impact, making it easy for them to give at any level.
Steps to Access Google for Nonprofits
How does a nonprofit apply for the program? Head over to Google for Nonprofits.
- Confirm that you meet the eligibility requirements
- Request a Google for Nonprofits account
- Once your nonprofit is verified, you’ll be notified by email
- Then you can activate and use the individual products
In Canada, TechSoup manages the eligibility process, and validate your organization’s legal status and activities. If you’re looking for more detail in the process, click through to their Google for Nonprofits FAQ page.
Many small charities and non-profits don’t have the staff or budget for building the technology structure needed to create a strong digital strategy. Google for Nonprofits allows organizations of all sizes to benefit from great tools that aid with targeted advertising, donor acquisition, organizational productivity, and much more.
Check it out.
*not all products are available in all countries