The Solution to “I’m Too Busy”: Saying “No” More Often

Do you often feel that you’re too busy? Whether you’re thinking “I’m too busy” to yourself or using it as an excuse to others, it’s a sign that you should regain control over your time. The trick, as you might have guessed, is saying “no” more often – firmly, and with no room for doubt.

If you don’t have much free time, chances are you are doing too many things that are not important to you. These can include:

  • Social events that bore you (but which you attend out of obligation)
  • Hanging out with people that actually drain your energy
  • Pointless meetings during which hardly anything gets done (or decided)
  • Helping selfish and demand people with things they should be doing themselves

The list goes on.

It’s probably not due to just one thing, event, job or person. Over time, you have accepted too invitations or requests, and they have snowballed into a big ball of commitments.

If you're often thinking

The trick is to say “No” more often

If you want to regain control of your time (and your life), you have to learn to say: “No.”

Perhaps you can’t get out of the unwanted responsibilities you are already involved in. That’s fine. But you must begin to shoot down incoming requests that you know are no good.

How do you know if it’s something you don’t want to do? Easy. If you imagine doing something and you don’t instantly get excited about the idea, drop it.

By saying “no” to the things you don’t want to do, you open up more time for hobbies, activities and people that genuinely interest and excite you.

It will be hard at first. People in your life are probably already used to you just saying “yes” and can’t imagine it being any different. You have to change people’s expectations of your behaviour. Instead of expecting that you will agree to their every wish and suggestion, they must be taught that you value your time and won’t give it up so easily.

A distraction-free environment is critical for writers

Start saying “no” to distractions and time-wasters. You can be polite at first and simply say you don’t have the time, or you can start using the best response for these situations:

“Thanks, but I am not interested in doing that.”

This one works best because it protects you from similar future requests, while simultaneously teaching the other person that they should never expect a simple “yes, of course” from you.

Try to be as honest and direct as possible. Honesty is a rare commodity in today’s world, and it is a rare (and generous!) person that gives it away freely and without hesitation. You will not only free up more time and energy for all the things you want to do and create, but also command more respect.

Some people won’t like it.

A few will be shocked at your approach. Perhaps they are not used to being rejected, or have an inflated ego. You may even lose some friends, or people who you had assumed were your real friends. It’s all part of the process.

There’s no other way around it – you must stop the inflow of useless, distracting activities.

Start being a “no” person. Say it loud and proud.

And when you finally discover something you truly want to do, your “Yes!” will be that much sweeter.

Less lying, more truth


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  1. Great post!

    This is something that’s been coming up a lot recently. I’m one of those people who just hate saying no, most of the time I’ll try and make up an excuse for something I really don’t want to go to (but that usually comes with costs).

    I think it’s hard to discern sometimes though!

    • Hey Sam,

      Thanks for your feedback!

      I know exactly what you mean about trying to find an excuse! It’s the easy way out, but it forces you to constantly think of new excuses all the time.

      It’s important to be polite, of course. And it can be done with brutal honesty!


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