I have this great, soft, gray t-shirt that just says “Nope” in black letters that I wear when I know I’m going to have a very busy and/or stressful day.  When I wear it, I stand a little taller as if saying, “Go away word, I’m busy!” Just the fact that it says “Nope” on it makes me smile and it’s softness makes my day that much better.  Because my calendar is already jammed pack, I know there’s a high chance that I’m going to have to say no to something that comes up on my calendar. And that’s the real meaning behind the shirt.

Every time you say “yes” to something is a time you’re saying “no” to something else.  Perhaps it’s the weekend and you decide to do your Sunday grocery shopping early before the crowds so you can save 20 minutes waiting for people in the aisles and checkout line.  You’re saying yes to your early morning productivity (and extra 20 minutes in your day) and no to exercising early in the morning or sleeping in. During the week you may get a meeting that overlaps something already on your calendar and you’ll have to make a choice of which to do and which to decline.

The bottom line is that it’s okay to say no!  You’re not a superhero (and if you are, please bookmark this blog for later and continue saving the world).  No one expects you to be everywhere at once and do everything yourself. In order to be more satisfied with our work and lives and make more of an impact, we should figure out our top priorities each day, and say no to the other items on our list.  That could mean moving those tasks to the next day or next week, or handing them off to someone else to complete. Don’t push yourself too hard and work a bunch of extra hours to get tasks done that a team member can help you with or that could be moved.

This can be a challenge for a lot of people for several reasons.  The first one being that they want to look good for their boss. You think that if you do more, you’ll get recognized for it.  This is very possible. Keep in mind, however, that it’s not just the number of items you complete, but the impact of them that really makes the difference.  You may be churning out a million tasks a day, but if they aren’t moving the bottom line, CSAT,, or other KPI for your organization, they will likely be overlooked.  Also remember that the higher up you go in an organization, the better leader you need to be. Showing your leadership by delegating the tasks that you don’t have to do yourself gets you one step closer to moving up.

Another reason why you may have trouble delegating tasks is because you may be a little OCD and think that your way is the best way.  If you want something done right, do it yourself. Sound familiar? You may be very thorough and have great grammar, but that doesn’t mean that the technical documentation created by someone else isn’t as great, just in a different way.  Everyone on your team was hired for a reason. What are your strengths? Find them and use them every day! You may find that you have a strength or two that are useful in many situations in your current role. Figure out which of your assignments most utilize those strengths and make an impact on your business group or entire organization, and keep those.  Find others with strengths that pair well with the remaining items, and transfer those items to them. You’ll have more time and energy to put your best work into the tasks you still own.

How many times have you dreaded hearing the word “no”?  All our lives we’ve been trained to understand that no is a rejection or denial.  That word is associated with feelings of hurt, anger, or pain. But it doesn’t have to be!  “No” is just a word. And if we reassociate our thinking so that hearing no aligns with saying yes to something more worthwhile, then we’re more likely to open ourselves up to more opportunities and possibilities.  If you’re wondering which items in your life you can say no to in order to make more of an impact in your life, reach out to me.