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Free coaching tip for busy people

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We seem to be more busy every year. “Our (grand)parents had it so much easier”, you sometimes hear. “No mobile phones, no internet, no emails…”.

When you are very busy, time management books, courses or tricks may help you to work more efficiently: certain jobs will get done in less time. But it will not help you solve the underlying problem: you simply have got too much on your plate. In other words: too much to do in too little time.

So, what does the trick in the latter case? Make sure that what you (have to) do is in balance with the time you have.

This probably means that you will have to say “no” more often. No matter how tempting the offer. Is it really too good to let pass? No worries: don’t say no and thankfully accept while at the same time making sure that you delegate another, preferably less interesting task, to someone else to free up the necessary time.

And always remember: saying no means saying yes to something else!

So, now let’s practise saying “no” with the help of the following Become less busy exercise:

Say “no” to something today you do not really want to do or makes you feel stressed time-wise. Do it in a friendly, but decisive way that feels good for you. It can be to something small or big, your choice.
It may not be easy, but go for it!

For those who are at a total loss for words or handy sentences, some example sentences:

No, thank you. (Yes, it can be that simple.)
Sorry, I’ve already got something else planned.
I’ll think about it. (And hopefully it is never brought up again.)
I’m not really into that. I think someone else will enjoy it more. But thank you for asking me.
As you probably know, it is not really my fortee/speciality. I think it is better if you ask X/someone else, don’t you agree?
When saying “no” in person, body language is really important. So make sure you say it nicely and decisively, with a polite somewhat apologetic smile.

Sometimes, especially at work, it is handy not to immediately say no, but to indicate when you could do the requested task or what the consequences are of the request. Are you scared your boss will be angry when you do that? Don’t be. In my experience they welcome it! Why? Because you are merely being professional: you indicate rightly and very helpfully the consequences of the new task on top of your regular work. Bosses often don’t realise that if you go to a meeting on their behalf this means the report for the next management meeting will not be ready in time, to just give an example. So by informing your boss of the consequences, you give him/her the chance to rethink the request and/or take appropriate actions. So in the end everything that needs to be done gets done, thanks among others by your good feedback.

Some example sentences:

I can do this, but in four days. Is that okay? (And when it is urgent, they will automatically ask someone else.)
I can do it now but then I won’t be able to organise the luncheon for the directors. So, what would you prefer me to do?
Tip: Learn some of the sentences by heart and practise saying them. They will then automatically come to mind when you need them.

PS Doing nothing can be very difficult for some people. Are you one of those? Check it out by doing the following test: Try doing nothing for 2 minutes, just chill and relax. Set your timer on your phone or use the good old egg timer. And…. how did it go?

Judith Niekel-Sjoerds

Levenslooppsychologe en Coach

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