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Time Management Worst Practice: Always Saying Yes

Saying ‘yes’ to requests for your time is not always a bad practice. In fact, the better you are at managing your time and your projects, the more likely it is that you will be chosen to handle important tasks that need to be completed quickly with quality and care.

Taking on and completing important projects can be very rewarding and can lead to promotions and bonuses. The problem occurs when you say ‘yes’ to almost any request no matter what it is, who is asking, or how much work you already have on your plate.

Always saying ‘yes’ is a major source of overload and stress, and it can lead you away from your priorities into less important tasks. If you want to avoid the work and stress associated with attempting too much, you need to decide carefully whether to accept new tasks.

People that say ‘yes’ when they should be saying ‘no’ usually do it for one of two reasons. The first is that many say ‘yes’ automatically without thoroughly thinking about the request.

This could be a reaction you save for certain people like your boss, or a family member, or the president of your volunteer group, or it could just be your normal way of dealing with requests.

Perhaps you feel good about serving and feel that by accepting the extra responsibility you are making a difference. Maybe you feel that taking on the extra work is the best way to get that promotion you’ve been waiting for.

Both of these are perfectly valid reasons for accepting a new project; but when you accept every task thrown at you, you will quickly reach the point of attempting too much for your own good. When you do, your overload will produce stress, lower your physical and mental wellbeing, and reduce your productivity and effectiveness.

People that say ‘yes’ automatically usually don’t realize how much each new commitment is costing them. Remember that you can do almost anything, but you cannot do everything.

Whenever you accept a new task or responsibility, you are always giving up something else. You could be giving up your free time, or an extra twenty minutes of sleep, or time that you would have spent with your family, or exercising.

Without realizing it, you could be choosing to spend your valuable time doing trivial things instead of what is most important to you. Let me repeat this: Every time you choose to do something, you always give up something else you could do with that time.

There is a saying that if you throw a frog into a boiling pot of water, the frog will immediately jump out; if however, you put a frog into a pot of cool water and slowly raise the temperature, the frog will get boiled.

If someone came to you and gave you twenty projects to work on over the next couple of weeks all at the same time, you would certainly take notice and have to at least consider what you would have to give up to complete the extra work. However, when the new tasks come in slowly, trickling in one at a time, it is more difficult to realize what you are giving up until you’ve already overcommitted.

If you want to escape from the worst practice of always saying ‘yes,’ your first step has to be to promise yourself to consider each request carefully before accepting it, instead of doing it automatically.

Make it your new habit to always stop and think before accepting a request no matter what it is or who is asking. Then at least you will be making an informed conscious decision fully aware of what you are giving up in order to accept the extra responsibility.

The second reason people say ‘yes’ when they should be saying ‘no’ has to do with their internal motives. If you have taken the first important step and are now considering each request before accepting, but you still find yourself overloaded because of saying ‘yes’ too much, you may be facing a psychological barrier that is holding you back.

The most common ones are a desire to please, fear of rejection, and guilt. You may be saying 'yes' because of a payoff you are receiving (feeling useful), or because it is the path of least resistance (don't want to confront the asker.)

Mahatma Gandhi said, "A 'No' uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble."


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