o you hit the ground running at 6 a.m. and keep going ‘til your head hits the pillow? If you feel like you’re always up against a deadline and have no time to react to the unexpected or, god forbid, to relax, then you probably have too much packed into your day. To get some sanity back, you might learn how to practice reductionism—otherwise known as the art of saying no.
This isn’t always easy for those of us who are used to being busy, busy, busy. But over-scheduled isn’t the same as putting your energy into constructive work. Recognize that just because you’re doing more doesn’t mean your output will be better. To tame that always-going instinct, “focus on being productive instead of busy,” as Timothy Ferris writes in seminal self-help business book, The 4-Hour Workweek.
The first step to regaining control over your time is to understand which actions will move you toward your goals. “Determining what you say yes and no to comes down to your priorities,” says media coach and productivity expert Paula Rizzo, author of Listful Thinking and Listful Living. “You have to sort those out first. When you have a clear picture of what you value most, it makes decision-making much easier.” If your goal is getting more sleep, for example, you’ll find it easy to say no to an evening out, “because it interferes with your core priority,” explains Rizzo. The same principal can be applied to engagements, appointments, appearances, work projects, and more.
Once your priorities are sorted, says Rizzo, you can take a very “spark-joy” approach to saying yes or no—your instinct will begin telling you what to do. That’s because clarity on what aligns with your priorities is simply easier “when you have the end in mind,” says Rizzo.
Author, podcaster, and business coach LuAnn Nigara advises taking a similar intuitive approach, even when it comes to the tough decision of turning down a design project. “It’s all about personal accountability,” says Nigara, who—oh, btw—also runs a successful window treatment business. “You get to a point where it’s counterproductive to take on certain projects.”
Nigara echoes that trusting your gut is critical. “The truth is, we all know the projects we should not do,” she says.
Of course, it’s one thing to know when you should turn something down, and another thing entirely to actually get the words out. We’re often afraid of disappointing people, seeming rude, or instigating conflict. Truly, saying no takes courage. Whether you’re turning down a design project or a party invite, use “whatever version of the truth is most respectful,” says Nigara. “Don’t lie. But don’t hurt somebody’s feelings either.”
It may help to remember that if a project doesn’t inspire you, it’s probably not right for the client either. Nigara’s suggested script? Explain that, in your experience, the job is not an ideal fit, and won’t result in your best work. You could even recommend another designer. But by avoiding a situation that’s unlikely to end well, you’re respecting not only yourself, but the other party, too. “And that,” says Nigara, “is a win-win.”
Original post found here.