QUESTION: Many of us now believe, as you seem to, that "time saving gadgets," such as fax machines, cell phones, e-mail, and super-fast computers, while serving a purpose, aren't the ultimate answer for slowing down our lives. If not, then what is?

ANSWER: You're right. Those tools you mention, as well as others, all have their place and, used effectively, can make our lives easier. However, we've come to rely on them far too much. So much so, in fact, that we've become enslaved to them. Just the other day, I heard a woman screaming down the hall. I ran down to see what I might be able to do to help. All that happened was that her electronic day timer had broken down!

To me there is one single strategy that towers above all else in terms of making our time management, and thus our lives, easier. That strategy is simply learning to say "no" gracefully and with love at very appropriate and strategic moments. I'm talking of course, about things where, deep down, you really do want to say "no."

Think about it. Saying "no," even once or twice a year, at just the right time, can save you tens, or possibly even hundreds of hours by not allowing yourself to become committed to even more committees, groups, organizations, or projects, than you are already. You can manage your time perfectly, and have all the latest time saving devices, but if you keep saying "yes," when you really want to say "no," or when you're already over-stretched or overwhelmed, then eventually you're going to burn out. Guaranteed!

Like almost everyone else, I was recently asked to volunteer for an activity. Although I often say yes, my instinct this time was to say no. I had a new book coming out at just the same time, and would be traveling a great deal the next few months. By saying yes, I would have been opening the door to a brand new source of stress. I'm not sure how much time it would have required. It doesn't matter because I honestly didn't have the time if I wanted to maintain a feeling of calm in my life, and if I wanted to be able to see my family as much as I do. By saying no, there was no need to juggle anything, no scrambling around, no added e-mails, no additional people to answer to, and no added pressure. It was a done deal. My life is no more stressful today than it was the day I was asked. Saying no can be a lifesaver and saying "yes" should be reserved for those things that you really, really want to do! Even then, you should be prepared to take something out of your schedule in order to put something new into it.

So start saying "no" today and your life will start feeling easier almost immediately! You'll soon see: Life really is easier than you think.

Author's Bio: 

Richard Carlson, Ph.D. is considered one of the foremost experts on happiness and stress reduction around the world. Having written twenty popular books, he has shown millions of people how not to let the small things in life get the best of them. His book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff – considered one of the fastest selling books of all time – spent over 100 consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.Richard has two new books coming out in October: The Big Book of Small Stuff (Hyperion) and Don’t Get Scrooged: How to Thrive in a World full of Obnoxious, Incompetent, Arrogant and Downright Mean-Spirited People (Harper, San Francisco). He is offering a very special promotion to those who purchase copies of one or both books on a pre-order basis. For promotion details go to and select special offer.Richard lives in California with his wife and two daughters.