Avoid Overcommitment – Ten Tips to Help You Say “No”

Life today presents us with a dizzying array of options and opportunities. In addition, there’s often a constant stream of requests for our time from family, friends, church, co-workers, etc. There is no way we can do it all, and we certainly can’t do it all well. But we can avoid overcommitment!

Since we only have a finite number of hours in each day, when we accept a request, we’re in effect saying “no” to others. If we’re not careful, that precious time we want to spend on what’s most important to us can get eaten away, leaving us overcommitted and stressed.

Avoid Overcommittment - 10 tips to help you say "no"I’m sure Jesus had many more requests for His time and attention than most of us do, and He didn’t say “yes” to them all. He took time to ask His Father about daily activities and followed the priorities that fit His Father’s agenda. “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does*.’”

Though we want to serve and help others, developing the art of graciously saying “no” is not only key to our survival and sanity, but will enable us to accomplish the things that are really important to us. Below are ten tips to help you say “no.”

1. Learn from the past—remember what it’s like to feel guilty and frustrated about commitments you’ve made to do things you don’t have the time, energy or desire to do.
2. Think and plan ahead, blocking out time on your calendar for activities that are important to you. Saying “no” is easier when that time is already scheduled for something else.
3. Commit to never giving an immediate response—request time to think about it. Simply say, “I need time to think and pray about this. I’ll get back to you.”
4. Weigh the costs and rewards. Ask yourself, “Will scheduling this cause me undue stress?” and “Does this align with what I feel God wants me to do?”
5. Learn to say “no” directly, without feeling guilty or giving a lengthy explanation. After all, you don’t usually offer a reason when you say “yes.”
6. Be prepared for others to push your boundaries and be ready to say “no” as many times as it takes.
7. You may be able to avoid a confrontation by offering the other party choices.
8. When you’ve said no, remember that you’re not responsible for others’ reactions.
9. Practice saying “no” until it feels comfortable without offering any explanation.
10. Before making a commitment, be sure you have a complete understanding of exactly what’s being asked of you.

*John 5:19, New International Version

Question: What tips do you have for saying “no?” Leave a comment below.

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