Why “No” is the Key to Successful Time Management

Posted On: July 18, 2019 by: Doug Lundrigan

Time Management is critical when it comes to effectively achieving our goals. It becomes an even more powerful tool when it comes to leadership. When we are properly managing our time, we notice that the benefits start rolling in! Decreased stress, increased opportunities and a strong feeling of accomplishment, to name a few!

I have a good friend whom I love dearly.  She is the kindest, sweetest person you’ll ever meet. but she can’t say no.  She’ll start out her day prepared to work on a project, then someone will ask her to do something that is not her responsibility to do, and she will say yes and start doing it.  She becomes derailed from what she started off doing.  Then while she’s doing the second thing someone will ask her to do something else and she will get side-tracked with that.  And so goes her day, trying to please everyone and never actually pleasing anyone.  She comes off as flaky because she says she will do something and doesn’t.  All that action goes on without her ever accomplishing anything, and that time-wasting is costly.

Undoubtedly the cost of time can’t be ignored in situations such as budgeting out projects and tasks, and the more successful a person becomes, the more valuable their time becomes. A shift needs to occur in every leader’s life, from taking every opportunity for experience and goodwill, and instead handpicking the projects and tasks that hold the most weight. This is when the word ‘no’ turns from being a negative and becomes more comparable to a super-power; a definitive positive in every leaders book.

3 Mindsets For Success

1. Perspective

It may not always be easy to say no, especially when getting caught up in other’s created sense of urgency. I’ve found that often, urgency has less to do with immediate needs and more to do with managing expectations.

Saying no puts you in the seat of power when it comes to spending your time. Think back to the many times before when you’ve said yes to others, wasting preciously budgeted time on solving someone else’s problems as opposed to accomplishing YOUR goals. When you say yes to others, you are, in fact, saying no to yourself.

2. Necessity 

Some personalities will have a difficult time saying no, but it’s important to acknowledge that it’s not selfish to say no. Saying no is a necessary part of leadership and time management, and a lesson every successful individual needs to learn. It’s a choice to determine the budget of your time and where to spend it the most wisely. When you are effective at time management, you’ll develop an awareness of the difference between helping others (and budgeting time to do so), and being sidetracked from your goals. Remember, it’s not being mean when you say “no,” rather it’s a choice to say YES to your goals and stick to your plan.

3. Boundaries

Many leaders who haven’t learned the power of “no” still struggle with the establishment of boundaries and will continue to struggle in achieving their goals. Both co-workers and employees alike will develop a greater respect for you when clear boundaries are established.

If you find that your time is being eaten up and you’re struggling to say no, try setting up daily sprint meetings or “huddles” at the beginning or end of the day for the team to get together to ask questions and give updates. Make sure that you’re completely present for those 15 minutes daily, and the rest of the day is blocked off for you to work on your goals! If daily meetings don’t work, we suggest weekly or monthly one-on-ones with your team members.  Think of these meetings as problem prevention or interruption reduction time.  Your people will enjoy the personal attention and mentorship from their leader, and you’ll enjoy the boundaries of an interruption-free workday.

How To Say No

The thought of saying a blunt “NO” seems to make us cringe.  We don’t want to be a jerk, do we?  But we don’t need to be blunt.  Here are a few soft phrases that all mean “no”:

  • I wish I could help you with that but unfortunately, I can’t.
  • It sounds like you’re really dealing with an urgent situation. I’ve got one or two of those going on myself right now.
  • I plan my schedule at least two days in advance and I’m booked solid. If you can give me at least two days notice I hope to be able to help you in the future.
  • You know, that’s not within my area of expertise or responsibility. I suggest you ask       .
  • I would love to get that done for you, boss. Which of these other projects would you like me to stop in order to do that?

Take Action!

Is your team struggling with time management, establishing boundaries, or setting clear, actionable goals? You’re in luck! Lighthouse Leadership is now offering free Lunch & Learn programs for qualifying businesses! There are 32 dynamic and engaging workshop topics to choose from. Check out Mastering Personal Productivity to discover how discipline and structure in your schedule give you control, freedom, and work/life balance. Contact us now to learn more and see what quality leadership training can do for your business!

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