My hectic schedule doesn’t just comprise of my assigned tasks at the workplace but also of helping out those who are new to our company or who simply want my opinion on an article they have written. I don’t really know these people but then helping them out never felt like a burden because I remember being on the other side of the conversation once and also because I love interacting with new people and hence saying no never came up as an option.
But after a while I realized that agreeing to do almost everything wasn’t that great a job. I had to devote a lot of time to all this extra work, and it was adding to my already existing work. It also meant less of my personal time. I hardly had any time for my boyfriend or my family, and I had to say no to things. I wished to do that so I could stop doing things that were not in my domain.
Also Read: Learn How to Say ‘No’
Worse still, I realised most of the times I would never see the person again who I was so earnestly helping out. Most often these relationships would start with “can you help me out with this?” and end with “Thank You!” and that would be the end of it. And I never even knew if the help I provided did make a difference for the person. Hence, I had to put my foot down and learn to say no to things that I could easily say to and at least have one meal of my day in peace without it becoming a work date.
Here’s how you can start to gracefully decline the excess work to balance your time, share hours with your loved ones, and still help the ones you don’t know well yet:
- Default to ‘NO’
This is the best way to get out of something that you aren’t supposed to do and make your schedule less cramped. Learn to say no but not to everything. If you see a future no matter how small coming out of working a bit out of your way, do weigh your options and then decide and make sure to have a really good reason to back up your decision. This way you do get to help out people but then get something out of it given you are spending your precious time doing something you probably even aren’t being paid to do.
- Even if the Invite is coming from a friend of a friend
Even if it is a friend of a friend or someone’s reference to your network, a no should always be your first answer. You can do this without ruining your friendship. Agree to give a response but don’t hand out timings for a meeting. Respond smartly so that you are somewhat of a help to that person without giving them way too much of your time and without ruining your friendship with the mutual friend.
- Find alternative mini ‘Yes’s that can still help the other person
Sometimes helping out is an option without losing more time than you need to provide. Here you orchestrate things accordingly. Answer their questions via the email and make sure that is enough so that the person doesn’t have to come back again to bother you. Save advice-giving emails as templates where you just have to change only a few things every time someone asks for it.
If the person is looking for a face to face conversation, take the liberty to decide the place and time according to your convenience so that you don’t have to stuff in a new date into your already tight schedule.
- Learn to say ‘NO’ with grace
Saying no is usually, actually never, received well. You’d know if you’ve ever been on that side of a conversation. So make sure you have a graceful no prepared where you thank the one asking for help or assistance for showing interest in the subject and an alternate way they can solve their problem where you don’t have to go out of your way to help.
- Know when to make an Exception and say ‘Yes’
Do make exceptions where you agree to be a helping hand but make sure you’ve looked at all pros of doing that and they outweigh the cons. Look for the future prospects of agreeing to go further with a blind reach-out and that it doesn’t clash with something really important on your calendar.
- Enjoy the time you get back thoughtfully
Now if you have a lot of time freed up, get down to doing all those hobbies you had sidelined because of excessive workload on the professional front. Spend quality time with your loved ones. Do all those things you had wished you could while you were typing out a long end year report? Add meaning and colour to your life. Explore life beyond that office cabin of yours and enjoy!