by Crystal Sabalaske | Featured Contributor
At least once a week I read an online article touting the power of learning to say “no”. It’s one of the top time management strategies experts are advising people to consider. The notion is that if you can get comfortable saying “no” to tasks that aren’t aligned with your personal and professional goals you will have more time for tasks that are.
In many cases, this is a valid strategy. If we attempt to take on every business, volunteer or personal request from others, we will undoubtedly become more busy- busy helping our coworkers, friends and family achieve all of their goals. Even if we feel really great about ourselves for being so selfless, we eventually reach a point of exhaustion and frustration. If we are too busy helping others pursue their dreams, our own opportunities to pursue ours dwindle. So, when we find ourselves in the quandary of managing repeated requests for help, it seems wise to follow the advice of the most popular time management experts. Gain the confidence to say “no” and free yourself from the undue stress of trying to do it all.
It wasn’t until my daughter asked me to adopt an African Dwarf frog that I began to examine a different approach to this strategy. After a school lesson on frogs and crabs, each student had the opportunity to bring home a critter. My daughter approached me with, “Mom, you always say no, but this time, can you please say yes?” Then she handed me the permission slip, which she had filled out herself in the affirmative, to bring home a frog. I glanced at the paper and gave her a look that apparently screamed a big fat NO. She then launched into a fifteen minute lecture on how I’m known in school as the overprotective mom who always says no – no going on trampolines, no riding a bike to a friend’s house. So what choice did I have but to pause and question if she was speaking the truth?
Then I thought, what would happen if I said yes? I would have to spend some money on food and a habitat, about $35 total, invest some time in cleaning the tank, and witness my child smiling from ear to ear – for days. There was also the possibility that my reputation as the “no mom” would change and move me up a notch or two in my daughter’s eyes. I thought about the “risks” (not many) against the benefits, and that’s when I decided to say yes to adoption. I agreed to adopt an African Dwarf frog.
It wasn’t even a full day after the signed permission slip went back to school when I started to ponder how my business could change if instead of concentrating on practicing how and when to say no, I altered my focus to decipher when to say yes. If I began to weigh the pros and cons of every one of my business growth ideas and requests for help from outsiders, could I be selective and say yes to things that would propel me closer to reaching my goals, enhance my reputation as an expert, and help others?
It’s often easy for entrepreneurs to lose focus when so many ideas seem viable, creative and life-altering. I know that my brain is always in overdrive. If I question if something is a “yes”, I not only force myself to slow down to evaluate all the details, I also make sure that I choose to do the things that offer the greatest opportunities for deeper connections, better life-work balance, increased profits and enhanced satisfaction with the work that I am doing.
What’s the worst that could happen if you say yes? Could you fail? Possibly, but if you do, you will still acquire insight and resources to assist you in determining what your next “yes” adventure will be. Could a “yes” situation leave you feeling a little uncomfortable, like maybe you don’t have what it takes to be successful? Probably, but “nothing ventured, nothing gained”.
The best way to simultaneously ensure that you don’t waste time on tasks that keep you from reaching your goals and focus on activities that put you on a path to achieving them is to adopt an approach that empowers you to say “no” and “yes”.
Have you had a “yes” experience that has led to amazing growth in your business?
(Update: We ended up adopting two African Dwarf frogs who prefer to hang out in a fake log. I have lost the title of being the “no mom”, at least temporarily. If she comes home asking for a trampoline, she’s out of luck.)
Crystal Sabalaske, professional organizer and owner of Cluttershrink, has been helping people get organized in their homes and offices since 2002. She has appeared on several episodes of HGTV’s series, Mission: Organization, and her organizing tips have appeared in national publications such as Family Fun, Parents, and Women’s Health magazines.
Crystal’s philosophy about organizing involves making simple changes based on an individual’s needs at work and at home. While she is committed to getting job done, she’s not at all serious and tries infuse the process of organizing with a little bit of fun.
Being organized saves time, money, and relationships, and when you maximize the potential in those aspects of your life, you have more time to focus on doing things that truly make you happy. For Crystal, those activities involve singing, reading, taking walks, spending time with her family, making up twisted tunes, brainstorming about her next business idea, and drinking iced tea.
In addition to hands-on home and office organizing, Crystal shares her passion for organizing by offering virtual coaching for individuals and workshops for business and social groups. She also offers relocation organizing services and thinks that after moving 18 times, she knows what it takes to get the job done right. If you really want to get Crystal fired up, just ask her to speak about organizing your kitchen for food allergies. She helps her family manage 19 of them!