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Learn to Say “NO” and Focus On What Really Matters


We live in a busy world

There’s always a million things going on and the to-do list seems to grow longer by the second. With so many “urgent” and “important” things to do, it can be very difficult to say the word “no.” Maybe it’s a family member who wants you to drop him to the airport in rush hour traffic. Or perhaps it’s a boss who always tells you she needs something ASAP at 4:59pm on Friday as you’re about to drive out of town.

We tend to be people-pleasers. We often find it hard to say no to requests and find ourselves spending time or money on things we should have passed on. This is why I want to teach you how to say no.

Don’t be a “yes-man”

What is a yes-man? A yes-man (I guess you could also say yes-woman, to be fair) according to Merriam-Webster, is a person who agrees with everything that is said; especially : one who endorses or supports without criticism every opinion or proposal of an associate or superior. You might think that taking care of everything your boss wants done will make him or her happy, but being the go-to for every request will only make your situation worse.

When you say yes to every request thrown your way, you begin to take on too much. You start to waste time on things that really aren’t urgent OR important. One of the biggest kickers is that you might rush to finish a request and send it on to the next person. Then that person might sit on that information for several days before doing anything with it. In that scenario, you end up wasting all this time scrambling to do work just to have nothing happen. Can you think of a time or two that this happened? Are you a little annoyed remembering all the time you wasted? I’ve been there, too.

How to say no

When someone approaches you with an unreasonable request or even tries to sell you something you don’t really want or need, you need to be strong in your response. Don’t reply with “I can’t” or “I’m not sure.” Have a firm response like “I’m not interested in that product” or “I’m not able to help you with that.” This may be awkward at first, but I promise it gets easier and that it is extremely empowering.

When you say no to something that is going to waste your time or money, you are in the driver’s seat. You have full control of the situation. The people who are spending hours on things that are not adding value or have a bunch of junk in their garage that they were sold were unable to say no. They perhaps started with “I’m not sure” or “maybe later.” Then they were sold. They were pressured until they caved and said “sure, I can take care of that for you” or “okay, I’ll go ahead and buy that random mall kiosk toy that I’ll never use.”

When you cave in and take on something you know you don’t need or want, you’re stuck. It’s much harder to back out of something once you committed. But don’t be afraid to back out if you realize you need to. Tell someone you underestimated how long a task would take or that you’re really not able to take time away from your other priorities. Stress the limited time you have and that you can’t afford to let your priorities suffer by allowing distractions into your life.

So go out today and practice saying “no.” Get past the initial awkward feeling and you’ll be so happy you did. Your productivity will skyrocket when you stay focused on the things that really matter.


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Chris Bello

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