Learn to Say No

Your time is valuable. More importantly, it is not free. You need to put a price on your time. Saying No is OK! Learn to say No!

Why? Saying no allows you to focus on the important tasks (see 80/20 rule).

When a leader says “yes” to something new in their life or their leadership, they must decide that they will say “no” to something that they are already involved in doing. This principle will ensure that you are not just needlessly adding to your “yes” list, but rather are replacing your already “yes’s” with new “no’s.”’

– Ken Gosnell, CEO Experience

Why Should I say No?

To have good time management you need boundaries. You need to make choices about where to focus your energy. These choices dictate your priorities. To better manage your time, make better choices. Seems simple, right?

You already set boundaries and expectations daily. Everyone does. However, do you want to be the pushover who always says yes? Do you want to be the path of least resistance who says yes, even when overloaded? It is ok to say No. 

The key to saying no though, you need to offer alternatives or try to find an acceptable time frame. You do not want to lose respect. You want to maintain your position of leadership. You want to be that go-to-guy-or-gal. You just need to be honest.

Instead of saying no, be honest about when you can take on the task. Saying no is about professional integrity, integrity is about trust, maintaining trust is about being honest and respectful to yourself and others. Why take on a task that you know you do not have the time to dedicate properly to it? Why take on projects or tasks that are counterproductive or impact the performance of your core responsibilities?

Time is to precious as a resource to waste. Be respectful of your time gives you a better platform to work from, and organizing your time gives you more freedom to do the things you want. 

– Lolly Daskal

Say No When

  • the request is outside your skill set or your area of responsibility. Better to saying no might be “I am not the best for this job, have you considered Scott?
  • you are at the tipping point where nothing is getting done or getting done well. Or when you have been assigned too many responsibilities, do not have the bandwidth, or are without enough resources. Saying yes and taking on another task can damage your reputation when you fail, and it damages the success of your current projects or tasks
  • the request does not match your short-term or long-term goals

Delegate It

Or, instead of saying no, teach them to fix their own problem. Feed a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he feeds himself for a lifetime.

If you do not have the time or the task does not fit into your priorities… delegate, it!

“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

-Dwight Eisenhower

Find Your Champion!

You cannot be everywhere all the time. You have limited resources. You do not have any direct reports to can delegate tasks too. You have too much work and need to say no. Now what? Find your champion!

You need someone who will be your voice when you aren’t there. Someone who will speak up for you or back your goals behind closed doors. That person that wants to help and will do so.

Your champion is

  • your walking spokesperson
  • someone who “buys in”
  • someone who wants change as they want better for themselves and their department
  • the person who is willing to take on tasks and help you promote the change

Ideally, this person has a strong desire to learn new processes. Someone who remains calm when confronted with problems and can communicate clearly. They should have the desire to follow through until finished

Trust me, you need a champion or two!

Want to See More?


In this series I am sharing the time-management and stress-reducing tips and tricks that I use. Will they all work for you No, but if you can open yourself for a bit of change and try some new things, I am sure you can find more than one thing to make your task management easier.

See the Series Guide