How to Say No to People (And Still Be Nice)

Here are five tips for scaling down and making the best use of your precious time:
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Happy woman looking away outdoors
Happy woman looking away outdoors

Much of the fun in life is saying yes to stuff -- parties, dating, working out, work itself, shopping, brunch, online research, social media ... the list is endless. Sometimes these things are extremely useful, valuable and satisfying. Our spirit knows when this is the case, as we feel refreshed, content and rewarded. It makes us happy -- like the time we have coffee with the friend we adore, the yoga class we take where we love the flow and really stretch ourselves, or the day we take a staycation and find a fantastic book store or restaurant.

Then there's the rest of the crap we do. This "stuff" often isn't useful or valuable, and instead of feeling satisfied, we're left feeling neutral, indifferent, even hollow.

Picture an awesome day you had in your life. I bet it included people you love, an activity you love, or both. Sometimes, in the day-to-day of doing "stuff," we lose sight of the valuable and confuse it with the non-valuable. We say yes to things that don't necessarily serve us, connect with people who take our energy rather than energize us, and spend hours of our precious time doing things out of habit or to please others.

When we attach perspective to time, our time on the planet, we remember that time is more than precious. For this reason, time is one of my favorite topics. It's a completely nonrenewable resource, and when used and planned correctly, it's our friend, not our enemy (how often do we hear people say. "I don't have time"? That is enemy-talk).

There are two sayings I love about time: "Time we enjoy wasting isn't wasted time," and, "We say we are wasting time, but we are really wasting ourselves."

Paradoxically, these both make perfect sense. "Wasting time" with a loved one lying in the park reliving memories is a wonderful use of time if it serves you and feeds your soul. Trawling through tweets or Facebook pictures or online shopping sites for hours with no purpose is a waste of you. You know what's a good use of time based on how you feel doing it and how you feel afterward.

Here are five tips for scaling down and making the best use of your precious time:

1. Before accepting an invitation, think, "Am I genuinely excited or looking forward to this?" If yes, go for it! If you're not certain, say you will let the person know. If not, politely decline. A simple, "thank you so much for the invite, so sorry I can't make it" will suffice.

2. When there are many things going on, breathe, take a moment, and let your intuition decide what makes most sense. Yoga or brunch? Movie with a friend or two hours spent on your blog? We all have 24 hours in a day -- you know the best ways to spend yours.

3. If you feel bored or restless -- before you succumb to Facebook or scrolling your contacts for someone to call, think, "What do I feel I never have time to do that I could use this time for?"

4. Enjoy your down time. It's in the quiet, white space that many creative ideas and answers come to us. Enjoy "wasting time" being with an important person: you!

5. Remember the golden rule -- don't prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities.

Time is your friend and it is on your side. Take good care of it, and it will take care of you.

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