Thursday, July 6, 2017

Saying "No" in Order to Say "Yes"

Last month, Angel Zimmerman (Managing Partner, Zimmerman and Zimmerman, PA) gave an excellent webinar on time management. If you missed it, you can catch the webinar here. One of the things I love about webinars - you can listen to the recording later if you over-schedule yourself and run out of time.

If you're anything like me, time is often a struggle. I personally always think I have more time than I actually do. "Oh, I can squeeze in just one more email before it's time to leave." And then I'm late. At one of my prior companies, my colleagues joked about Michelle Standard Time, which is precisely 2 minutes late to everything. Not the best way to gain a reputation. 

So how do we fight the urge to do just one more quick thing? One of the points Angel made in her webinar was the importance of saying "No." And the reason for saying no is that you want to say "Yes" to the next opportunity. Sometimes saying no can be difficult - perhaps you're a chronic over-achiever, or a deeply-rooted people pleaser; however, saying no to things that are less important actually gives you the freedom to say yes to the things you really want and need to do.

A couple years ago I read Greg McKeown's book "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" which addresses this very notion of the power of saying no. Greg asserts that by saying no to the wrong things, we have the time to pursue the right things. I actually read this book just prior to having my first baby, and it was the best book I read in preparation for motherhood. I felt freer to say no to unimportant tasks and focus on time with my brand new baby. And when I returned to work, I focused on the most important work items and let go of a multitude of unimportant tasks that would have taken more time away from my family.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson summed up these ideas about essentialism in his April 2015 General Conference talk:
Many things are good, many are important, but only a few are essential.
How has saying no helped you better focus on the essential things in your life?


  1. Deciding whether or not to do something has always been a challenge. It is natural for me to want to say yes. It is easy to want to do everything - and then want to do everything right/perfect. As a working mother and wife, I have tried to do everything - but that strategy hasn't always worked for me. One of the best things that happened to my six children as I worked was that they had to learn to do their own laundry, and cook, and find their own rides. A good friend told me to learn to say "No, I couldn't possibly do that right now." Easier said than done; I am still trying to prioritize better.