Say “No” to Low Priority Activities
don’t feel like doing it.”
I’m always amazed at how often I’ll talk to people who do tasks that
they hate. While we all have to do unpleasant things in life, often it’s easy to
fall into the trap of agreeing to projects simply because we don’t want to
While we’ve talked a lot about not
letting excuses prevent you from taking action, sometimes there’s a valid point behind the excuse you’re
giving. If you really don’t want
to do something, then perhaps it’s time to let it go.
The hardest part of learning to
say “no” is how to handle the reactions from others when you’re basically
telling them that their priorities are not your own. Here’s a simple four-step
process for doing this.
First, you have to identify the
These are the actions that are part of being a normal, well-adjusted adult. If
you go around saying “no” to every request, you won’t get very far in life. We
all have things that must be done, so
you might as a well accept that you have to do things, no matter how much you
don’t like them.
My only advice is to relate each
task to an important long-term goal.
For instance, even if you hate doing the dishes, think about how completing this
daily task leads to a harmonious marriage.
Next, you should carefully analyze
each request against your current priorities and
projects. During a weekly review,
identify the important items that need to be completed. When you get a request
to work on something, compare it to your desired outcomes. If they don’t match,
then have the courage to say “no” to the requester.
Third, you should be upfront with
people about their requests. If you
know there’s no chance you’ll follow through, then tell them right away. Honesty
really is the best policy
here. Simply tell the person that you have a few priority projects that require
your full attention and you can’t afford the distraction. Usually, most people
will understand this and anyone who doesn’t shouldn’t be in your life in the
Finally, try to end the
conversation on a positive note. If you
can’t help a person, recommend someone who can. If you know of a helpful
resource, send a link to the person. And if you think that you
grant the request sometime in
the future, then tell the person you’ll reply back on a specific date.
Saying no doesn’t make you a
selfish person. It makes you someone
who clearly understands what’s important. By having clear goals, you don’t allow
the demands of others to distract you from completing important projects.