Feel like one more item on your to-do list will send you over the brink? It’s time to begin practicing the fine art of saying no. A lot.

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Consider an email I gained from a student the various other day:

“… as the semester goes by, the harder it is to save up via college. The point is, I know I’d be able to carry out it if I didn’t have any type of extracurricular activities. I have actually a weekfinish task where I teach youths, a youth team wbelow I presently lead social justice, and also I was just asked by someone to lead prayer group.

“Right now, the only means to perform whatever is to sleep much less and work more, yet I noticed that I can’t execute a lot as soon as I haven’t gained much sleep. I wanted to take care of my body as well so I’ve been resting generally these past few days. Now I’m behind whatever again; I have actually 2 significant assignments due and also midterms next week.”

I recognize this feeling, bereason that’s just how I felt before I started simplifying my life. I was being pulled in all directions, and also never had actually sufficient time for everything I needed to carry out. I wanted to execute a good task with each role I’d handled, and also felt I might perform it, yet really I was doing a poor project at everything because I was stretched also thin.

To this student, and to everyone else who feels this way, I’d say this: your plate is too complete. You have actually too much going on.


The only answer, unless you want your health and wellness to decline (and that’s not great for anyone), is to start saying No.

The Whys Of Saying No

You need to say no to at least a pair things on your list: say no to prayer group and the youth team, so that you can say yes to institution and also the task.

For anyone else reading this, you might need to say no to particular job-related projects, or area teams, or committees or boards or parent-teacher establishments or coaching sports or some various other worthwhile activity.


I understand, it seems horrible to say no as soon as these are extremely worthy points to do. It kills you to say No.

But the alternate is that you’re going to carry out a poor task at each one, and also be stressed past your boundaries, and not have the ability to focus on any type of one. You won’t be getting enough sleep, your focus will certainly gain worse bereason of a lack of sleep, and stress and anxiety will compound that trouble.

We stay in this state bereason we really want to carry out it all. We have this idea that we have the right to be great at whatever, and also succeed at all that we attempt. But we are huguy, and also we have borders, and we have to let go of this principle of doing every little thing and also doing it well. You’re either going to carry out a couple points well, or perform everything poorly.


Do A Couple Things Well

Ideally, you’d discover finish emphasis and also carry out one point well. You’d pick one really important thing, say no to all the remainder, and put your complete focus on this one project. This might be institution, or a project at work, or a volunteer project … yet simply one thing. You’d learn to execute it well, and gain better and also much better at it, and serve world exceptionally.

However before, that’s not truth. We can’t constantly pare points down to one point, so emphasis on 2. I’ve uncovered that you have the right to perform two things well, and also one point really well. With 2 concentrates, you won’t be as focused, won’t learn as deeply, but it’s doable. With 3 or four focuses, you won’t perform anything well or learn anypoint deeply or serve anyone exceptionally.

So begin paring dvery own to two things: number out what the the majority of essential two things in your life are, and cut out the remainder. Be ruthless. Call or email or fulfill via them currently, and tell them that you really want to aid, but your plate is also complete. You can’t serve them well, so you have to say No.


When you’re dvery own to two things, I’ve found it ideal to offer each some allotted time. So a few hrs for one, and also then a few hours for the other. Don’t switch earlier and also forth constantly between the 2 (an e-mail for one, write a paragraph for the other, go ago to email for the first one, a paragraph for the second, and also so on). Doing it that method means you never offer either your complete concentration. When you give something your focus, really be current.

Saying no to worthwhile tasks, and also letting go of the principle that we can carry out every little thing, is extremely hard. But it’s not more difficult than trying to do whatever and not getting sufficient sleep and also being overly stressed out. Saying no is tough, yet it suggests you say yes to focus and also sanity.

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This short article initially appeared on Zen Habits and also is reprinted via permission.