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  • Sarah Tetlow

When You Say Yes Because You Don't Have Time (or the Guts) to Say No

Updated: Dec 8, 2019



Earlier this year, I was asked to take on (another) volunteer role. While I was honored to be considered a valuable person for the position, I knew I did not have the bandwidth to take it on. Thinking about the role, considering it, and speaking to people about it consumed enough time as it was. In the same phone call that I politely declined the role, I was asked again, and I found myself saying that I would need the weekend to reconsider. 

Over that weekend and into the next week, I found myself very irritated. I was irritated with people on the road. I was irritated with my kids and my husband. I asked myself “why are you so worked up?” The answer was I knew that I could not possibly say yes to the position, but I found myself WANTING to say yes because I didn’t have the time or the guts to say no … again. 


While that call was hard to make, I have looked back so many times this year and have been incredibly thankful that I did. It wasn’t the right position and I did not have the time to invest in the role. Imagine the number of hours in my life I’d be out now had I taken it?


When was the last time you did an audit on yourself? Do you know where you are investing your time? We can lose an hour on Netflix and yet not find time to have coffee with a potential client. We are patient with a board we serve on, and we are impatient with our kids when they ask a question. An hour can easily disappear on Facebook or Instagram and we complain we have no time to get to the gym. Seriously, what are your priorities? Do you say yes because you don’t have the time (or the guts) to say no? 



See below for a ‘sample’ time audit:









As we ramp up to close 2019, take some time to analyze your valuable time. 


One way to do that is to track your time for 1 to 2 weeks, in 15-minute increments. This exercise is very impactful to determine what you do. When you’re forced to write down / track every fifteen minutes of your day, you find yourself questioning the activity you’re about to do. Is brainlessly scrolling through Facebook worth my time, when I have to write that activity down to track it? Or would it be better to stay focused on the single task I’m working on?



By identifying your goals, you can craft a more productive day. Time is basic math; this is not breaking news. Yet, we try to manipulate it or we mismanage it every day. 


If you know that on a workday you are at work for 11-hours (including commuting), that leaves an additional 13-hours to get other things done.  If you value your sleep and know you need 7 hours of it, you are then left with 6-hours in your day. If it takes you an hour to get ready for work, you have 5-hours left in your day. You spend time with your family and cook dinner for 2-hours every night, you have 3-hours left. How are you choosing to use those 3-hours?  


Email me at sarah@firm-focus.com and I will send you a weekly time tracker (in Excel). 


At the end of two weeks, schedule a call with me and we will analyze your time diary to identify ways to improve your productivity. The results of the analysis may also help you to say NO to the next request, instead of saying Yes, because you will now Have the Time (or the guts) to Say No!

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The following articles are available on Linked IN: ​ Stop Wasting Valuable Time with Inefficient Email, November 12, 2019 ​ The Day I Broke Down, October 9, 2019 ​ Working Moms, You Need to Stop Using