As a busy grad student and entrepreneur, I often struggle with when to say Yes and No to things.
Saying No to things that are time consuming, distasteful, or unimportant will leave you with more time to get important things done. If you are following something you are truly passionate about, it is easy to say no to the unimportant and time wasting things such as meetings with no topic or doing dishes (in some cases you have to do the dishes anyway) so that you can be way more efficient and effective. Many successful people I know have have the “no” setting as a default. This can be frustrating, especially if your best friends are busy all the time and have to say no.
Saying Yes to activities, hanging out with your friends, and opportunities, can help you lead a happy and fulfilled life. Saying yes can also keep you from other important activities. Having a default of the “yes” setting introduces you to experiences that you may otherwise be nervous about or not know how awesome they could be. I am more open to saying yes when I travel because I am relying on other people much more than at home, and I find great joy in my unexpected good fortune that comes from saying yes. Saying yes build bonds between people.
Some people tend to fluctuate between these two settings – when they need to get more done, they say no more, and when they are feeling like they need to tend their relationships they say yes more. Having a system in place that helps you decided what is really important takes forethought and planning. Even then, one often has to compromise and say yes or no when you think it should be the other way around. I think the best way to navigate this is to write down the direction you want your life to be moving in, and give yourself a rough set of guidelines that can start moving you in that direction. Sometimes you may have to say no to something even when you want to do it. Other times, you may finally allow yourself to say yes! Let’s go!
Try writing down three things you want to stop doing, and three things you want to do more of. Choose carefully about what deserves your attention.