Why we find it hard to say no. The importance of saying no. Time management guru Chris Croft talks about how to get better at saying no. The utility theory of happiness applied to saying no. What if saying no will make someone else unhappy, is it still OK to do it? Saving one hour a week gets you a whole extra week per year.
- The first way that you can reduce the time you're spending on unimportant things, and therefore get more important stuff done instead, is to say no to those unimportant things. I think, particularly in your personal life, this is a brilliant option. I had someone on a training course once who said the biggest thing he wanted to get from the course was to get out of darts. I asked him what do you mean exactly. He said, "Well I'm very good at darts "and I play for three teams, "and each team has one match a week "and also practices once a week.
"So I'm playing darts six nights a week. "I'm bored with darts, what should I do?" Well, as you can imagine, I suggested that he picked one of the teams and say to them, "Sorry guys, I can't get the time anymore "so I'm gonna have to quit as soon as "you can find someone else." That's what I suggested. Then guess what he said, "Oh I can't do that, they need me. "I'm the best player, I run the accounts and the diary." You can probably also guess what I then said.
"Tough, it's your life, you don't have to spend it "doing something you don't want to do. "You've probably only got 800 weeks left, "so don't use them all up playing darts "if you don't want to." So why didn't he want to say no to the darts guys? Perhaps he wasn't assertive enough to confront them. Or maybe he liked being needed. Or maybe he would've felt guilty letting them down. Let's just think about that for a minute. Would it be selfish of him to walk out on the darts team? I think if you define selfish as looking after your own life, then yes, it would be selfish.
But if you think of selfish as a bad thing, which it usually is assumed to be, then I don't think he was selfish in a bad way. In fact, maybe the team were being selfish making him play when he didn't want to. Maybe whenever you feel pressure to do something you don't want to do, there is somebody else being selfish putting that pressure on you. Now of course the darts team would find someone else and they'd be fine. They'd probably wouldn't even miss him, but what if they did? What if him leaving was going to ruin their lives? There's a thing called the Utility Theory of Happiness, which says that ideally you would maximize the happiness of the whole system.
So if his small gain by leaving is going to be outweighed by their grief at losing him, then maybe he should stay. It's okay to look after yourself, but not if it costs other people a significant amount. Recently my wife and I were invited to a wedding in Scotland, which is about eight hours drive from where I live. It was the wedding of a distant cousin of hers who we don't really know at all. I was thinking several days of travel, hundreds of pounds of cost. I know Scotland is romantic and we'll get free cake, but I don't really want to go.
I've only got 800 weekends left, and spending one of them on a stranger's wedding isn't very high on my list. So I asked my wife do you want to go this wedding? Not really, she said, but I think we ought to. Anyway I persuaded her out of it and we didn't go. Did we ruin their wedding day? No, I bet they didn't even notice. In fact it probably meant they could invite some of their friends instead of those miserable relatives from down south. If not going would've ruined their wedding, then we should have gone, but that wasn't the case.
A whole extra weekend, 801 weekends, thank you very much. Now that was a whole weekend, but imagine if you just said no to the occasional thing, just one hour per week of saying no. That would add up to 52 hours a year, which is at least a whole working week. Imagine a whole week of pure uninterrupted time. Not one of your current rubbish weeks, full of interruptions and phone calls and emails and meetings, but a week of pure time.
Wow, that would be useful, wouldn't it? You could get loads done. In fact, I suspect you'd be bored after the first couple of days. It's a lot of time. So you don't have to become a miserable, unhelpful person who says no to everything, just occasionally, just an hour a week would be great. Have a think now about some things that you could say no to, that you'd like to say no to, or that you ought to say no to.
The first—saying no—is simple in theory, but hard in practice. Chris explains how to reclaim the power of "no" to make room for true priority items. The second step, negotiation, allows you to spend less time on unimportant tasks. The third way is to delegate sometimes, and the fourth is improving systems and processes so that repetitive tasks are quickly and easily managed. Last but not least, Chris explains how to overcome perfectionism and nitpicking. He explains how to apply the five methods to all time-stealers, including meetings, interruptions, and more.
In the initial chapters, he'll help you clarify your life and work goals, prioritize to-dos using Eisenhower's matrix of tasks, and answers questions like "Does working longer hours actually get more done?" The worksheets included with the exercise files will help you apply the lessons to your own work and life, and hone your time management skills—one step at a time.
- Discover why you need to make the most of every day.
- Assess how to separate important from urgent items.
- Define Eisenhower's matrix of tasks.
- Determine how to find more time for important things.
- Discover how to say no.
- Prepare to negotiate tasks.
- Develop your delegation skills to save time.
- Improve your systems.