Stress management means learning what you can take on, as well as what you can’t. Here’s how to turn down things that just aren’t essential to your life plan!
Often in life, it’s hard maintain a peace of mind. Things are constantly being asked of us. This can range from very benign requests, like a good friend inviting you to a party, to more troublesome ones, like your boss asking you to take on yet another project on top of an already overgrown workload. You don’t want to be the type of person who refuse everything, but you also can’t agree to everything that comes your way, or you’ll lose your sense of personal balance.
After all, no one can do it all. Veer too far in one way or the other, and your whole life will be thrown out of whack. That’s why it’s so important to be able to determine what things are important enough agree to and what things are unimportant enough to turn down. If you can get good enough at doing this, you’ll go a long way toward finding better personal balance.
Right about now, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “easier said than done,” and it’s true that it won’t always be easy to decide whether or not to decline. You can take some steps to make it somewhat simpler, though. First and foremost, always remember that you’re not alone and you don’t have to handle everything yourself. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to figure out what can go undone and what can be delegated.
Your Home World
Are you exhausted from a crazy work week, but you feel like you can’t take a break to relax because your home is a mess? Go easy on yourself and only do the bare minimum—if you skip dusting every single piece of furniture for one week, no one else is going to notice. Better still, ask your spouse or a roommate if they can handle the cleaning. Maybe they won’t do as good of a job as you would, but sometimes we have to be willing to sacrifice satisfying our own high standards for being able to take a break and let someone else handle things for a change.
Your Work World
The same thing goes for work—if you have too many projects on your plate, figure out which ones are the least complicated or important, and ask another coworker to help take on some of the other work. This kind of delegating is so important in the workplace. You can’t delegate everything, or you will look lazy and risk angering your coworkers and possibly getting fired. Yet you should delegate some work to others when you’ve got too much to handle.
Never be afraid to tell your boss that you can’t take on something new, as long as you have a big enough workload to back up your claim of being too busy. It’s important to also point out that you’re worried your work quality might suffer if you’re spread too thin—that shows your boss that you want to make sure you’re only turning out work that’s impeccable.
Your Social World
Sometimes you need to turn down some of those benign requests and offers, too, like the party invitation mentioned previously. Your friends will understand if you can’t make every single party or movie night. Sometimes you’re just too tired or too busy in other parts of your life. Just make sure that you’re there for the big stuff, like your best friends’ weddings and birthday parties, as long as you’re able to be in town for them.
If you’re there for your friends during the truly important events or the really tough times in their life, like when they need a shoulder to cry on after an awful breakup or death in the family, they won’t get their feelings hurt when you turn down an invite to girls’/guys’ night because you’ve worked a sixty hour week.
With friends and significant others, in fact, it can be a little easier to determine what demands a yes and what can be said no to—just ask yourself how you’d feel if the situation was reversed and they turned you down.
How To Determine “Yes” Or “No”
Ultimately, the best way to determine whether you should agree to something or not is to ask yourself whether it’s truly important. Will saying no jeopardize your job or your relationship with the person who is asking? If not, is it something that someone else can handle while you handle other, more important issues or projects?
Is it something that you can make up for later? For instance, if you turn down an invite to grab dinner with a friend this week, can you take them out to dinner the following week instead? If you can’t handle another project right now, can you assure your boss that you’ll take on the next project once your current project is completed in a few days?
Learn to ask yourself these sorts of questions before you reply to a request, and you’ll be far more likely to give the right answer. That means you’ll eliminate the unnecessary obligations in your life, have more time to focus on the important stuff, and end up leading a more balanced existence.