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Learning To Say No

Reduce stress by learning to say no

Learning to say no, whether you are returning to work or continuing to work from home

Do you ever feel like you’re taking on everything but not really achieving anything?

You feel like a lot of your time is wasted but you don’t know who to say no to or how to say no?

We all have continual demands from work, children, parents, friends but it is a simple fact that we cannot be our most productive selves if we take on too much commitment. We run ourselves into the ground, nothing is done to the fullest and we begin to feel like a hamster on a wheel. Same patterns, same problems, round and round.

Reduce stress by learning to say no

The main difficulty with saying no is the fear of upsetting someone else. Most of us are ‘people pleasers’ to some degree and don’t want to feel like we are letting people down. We can’t guarantee that you won’t disappoint people by learning to say no, but the reality is, people will be MORE disappointed if you stop caring for yourself. If you can’t care for yourself then you leave no chance of caring for anyone else. Your colleagues would rather you do one task to the best of your ability rather than three or four tasks that are rushed and full of error. Your friends would rather see you once a month at your best, happiest self, as opposed to all the time but drained, tired and unengaged.

So how do you learn what to say no to and how to say no? Keep reading.

Tip 1: Prioritise

Time to brain dump! Take everything that’s on your mind and that needs to be done and easily import it into one place e.g. the find section of GoalShaper. Work out your priorities and then say no to everything extra that you won’t be able to fit in. Here’s how to say no:

“I’m sorry. That’s not a priority for me right now.”

“I can’t help you on this now, but I can get to it next week. Would that be okay?”

Tip 2: Prioritise with agreement

Turn your actions into a coherent plan, prioritize tasks and make sure you spend your energy where it’s needed most. By creating categories and colour coding your activity e.g. in the Sort section of GoalShaper, you can see what elements of your life you’re spending too much time doing, and what elements you’ve abandoned. If a particular person is taking up a lot of your time, here’s how to tell them:

“Sure I can help you with your request as long as we both agree and understand that the item I agreed to do for you yesterday is going to have to wait.”

Tip 3: Delegate

Assign members with tasks and dates, start to fire up the productivity engine and create a clear picture of how your teams’ day-to-day actions are contributing to your big objectives.  GoalShaper allows you to easily see how workload is spread, and where you might be able to delegate some tasks to others. Here’s a few examples of how to delegate:

“Before I take this on for you, let me show you a few things so that you might be able to do it yourself.”

“Before I take this over from you, what do you think we ought to do about it?”

Tip 4: Planning

By planning your tasks for the week ahead of you, you are able to preempt how much spare time you will have and not over commit. For example:

“I don’t know how soon I can help you on this, but I will get back to you as soon as I am free to help you.”

All of the above tips will help you exercise your assertiveness. People will respect you for your clarity and confidence. Your willingness to practice self-prioritization and hopefully you will then be a role model to others too.

Tip 5: Decision


“Your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself. Being true to anyone else or anything else is not only impossible, but the work of a fake messiah. “Richard Bark

If you want to learn more about the route cause of people pleasing patterns here is an article from Psychology Today.

For more information on our goal setting software, visit

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