People often remark that they have trouble with time management. They don’t have enough time in the day. They are always running behind. They rarely meet deadlines. If only they could manage their time better.

Saying one short little word – no - can be the most important time management skill you can develop. So why is it so hard to say? Possibly because when growing up we were told that it’s not nice to tell people no. And now, after all these years, we still feel guilty when we don’t comply with someone else’s wishes.

Saying no when you don’t want to say yes is something everyone needs to learn to do. Too many times we get badgered until we finally say yes. Unfortunately, too many people can’t or won’t take no for an answer so they continue to ask until you cave in and agree. This is probably because too many people use other words that give the person hope that you’ll say yes:

- Maybe.
- I'm not sure I can.
- Let me think about it.
- I’ll get back with you.
- I need to check my calendar.
- We’ll see.

I wrestled with this time management issue for years. J.Sewell Perkins, my life/business coach, suggested when I’m asked to attend a meeting, go to lunch, take in a movie, volunteer, etc., and I don’t want to or can’t, to respond this way:

I appreciate you thinking of me, but I cannot.

You don’t owe an explanation, and after you’ve used this technique consistently, people will realize you mean what you say. In the meantime, you might be pressed to change your mind. Your response can be:

I respect the fact that you want me to attend; please respect the fact that I cannot.

Other responses, depending on the request, are kind but firm:

I’m honored that you invited me; however, I must decline.

I would love to, but my schedule does not permit another item on my calendar.

This sounds like a great opportunity, but at this time my family needs my attention.

Your request is tempting, but when I agree to do something, I give it 100%. At this time I know I would not be able to do that, so rather than disappoint you and myself, I must pass.

These simple statements allow you take your life back and politely, but firmly, say no.

Make it a habit to say no. You've developed the habit of putting people off, not wanting to say no. Creating the habit of firmly saying no when you want to decline, whatever the invitation, is a habit you will appreciate developing!

Remember, saying no is not selfish. Saying no is not rude. Saying no is not wrong.

Saying no to others is saying yes to yourself. Then, when something comes along that you really do want to do, you’ll have the time to accept and enjoy it!

Author's Bio: 

Cindy Hartman has found that a wide range of corporate experience served her well in late 2004 as she and her husband, Mike, pursued their entrepreneurial dream. As President of Hartman Inventory LLC,, a personal property inventory service, Cindy brought her corporate marketing, customer service, training and finance experience into the business. This experience came from industries that included retail, manufacturing, education and distribution.

Additionally, she is Vice President of Hartman Inventory Systems LLC, which is a turnkey package that assists others who have a desire for business ownership. Interest in this new, growing industry is a result of having been burglarized twice. Experiencing the difficulty of the insurance claims process and resulting potential loss after a burglary, fire or natural disaster, she has made it her mission to share the importance of knowing what you own with business owners, renters and home owners. She shares this knowledge through her company newsletter and blogs.