Everyone has the right to choose what to do with their time, but we can all agree about one thing – it is certainly not enough for everything. Back in 2013, an ingenious project made use of 28,835 jelly beans (one for every day in 79 years) to show how the life of an average person looks and what we use it for. Simple calculations help the guys show the following important figures:
- 23,360 days left after the first 15 years.
- Sleeping: 8,477 days.
- Eating, drinking and preparing food: 1,635 days.
- Working: 3,202 days.
- Commuting and moving around: 1,099 days.
- Watching TV (arguably): 2,676 days.
- Chores and household responsibilities: 1,567 days.
- Taking care of our loved ones: 564 days.
- Bathing, grooming, bathroom related activities: 671 days.
- Community activities (taking classes, charities etc.): 720 days.
When you take all that out, you are left with 2,740 days. This is your time for doing what you love, what makes you happy, what you really want to do with your time. And that’s in case you know how to say ‘no.’ 2,740 days does not sound like a lot of time, does it? What you are going to do with it – the choice is entirely yours.
When realising the importance of saying ‘no’, you need to differentiate between your personal life and your business affairs. When it comes to your own private time, making the choice to say no should be much easier. In our lives, we all have those people who would always ask for favours, sacrifices, compromises, spending time on activities we don’t like or need. There are, of course, situations when we should say ‘yes’ – when we really want to help/participate. But when spending our time is obviously not worth it and everything in us screams no – that’s when you should be hard and decided. Say ‘no.’ If they persist, say ‘no.’ again. Soon enough, you will not be the target of unwanted invitations, requests and attention – and you will have the time all for yourself, your loved ones and what really matters in life!
If you are struggling to say ‘no’ to business requests, invitations and projects, you will need to train yourself into practical thinking. Do you have enough on your plate already? Yes? Then the answer to the next thing you will only waste time and efforts on should be ‘no.’ Do you actually want to participate in the project/meeting/event? Then say ‘no’, but include the possibility to be available next time. In order to be successful and to have time for what really matters for your business, you need to know your priorities. A good idea is to have a time rule – for example, give a reply after 24 hours. That will give you what you need to count the pros and cons, to evaluate the proposition and to take the right decision. Only very rare business cases would not let you ‘sleep on it’ before deciding what to do, so take advantage of doing this – the benefits will come with time.
To cut a long story short, ‘no’ is a phrase you certainly need to use more often in both your private and business life. Learn to say it gracefully and with style, without hurting people’s feelings and with the perspective of keeping doors open – never lock them. However, no matter what way you say it, make sure you are in control of your own time. 2,740 days for activities of your own choice. How many of them do you have left? Spend them appropriately!