We’ve all been there: we’re busy, but we can’t seem to say no. We have too many commitments and not enough time to get everything done. Feeling like you’re always behind can lead to stress and anxiety, which isn’t good for our health or our families.
Single parents, especially, have too much on their plates. Learning to say no and prioritize your time is a tremendous gift to yourself and your children.
Do you have too many commitments?
First, let’s discuss determining if you have too many commitments. If you find yourself constantly stressed and overwhelmed, likely, you have too much on your plate. Being over-committed can be difficult to admit, but it’s important to be honest with yourself. Are you saying yes to things you don’t want to do? Do you have trouble saying no to others?
Other signs that you are over-committed are:
- You’re always tired
- You don’t have time for yourself
- You’re always behind on your work
- You’re missing important deadlines
- You’re neglecting your health
- You feel resentful to the people or things you’ve said yes to
- You dread following through with a promise
If you can relate to any of these, it’s time to take a step back and reassess your commitments.
How to use your time more efficiently
If you find that you’re always saying yes, even when you don’t want to, it’s time to start setting some boundaries. You need to learn to say no to make time for the things that are truly important to you. This doesn’t mean you have to be rude or unhelpful, but it does mean setting some limits.
Finally, let’s talk about how you can use your time more efficiently. If you’re constantly feeling rushed and like you don’t have enough time, likely, you’re not using your time wisely.
Here are some tips for using your time more efficiently:
- Make a list of things you need to do each day and week, and prioritize them.
- Set aside specific times for working on projects, and stick to those times.
- Take breaks often, and make sure to schedule some downtime.
- Say no to things that aren’t a priority.
- Delegate or outsource tasks that you don’t have time for.
- Automate or streamline repetitive tasks.
How to stop saying yes when you mean no
I’ve heard that when we say yes to something we don’t want to do, we rob someone else of a “yes” that is meant for them.
For example, if you agree to take on a project at work that you don’t have time for, you are taking away an opportunity from someone who could use the extra work.
It’s essential to be mindful of our yeses and ensure that we only say them when we truly mean them.
Saying no can be difficult, but it’s necessary if you want to reduce your stress and take back control of your time.
Use these tips to start saying no more often:
- Set boundaries with the people in your life
- Be honest with yourself about your commitments
- Prioritize your time
- Let go of commitments that are no longer serving you
- Be assertive: don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. If you’re too passive, people will take advantage of you.
- Be direct: be honest about your feelings and what you’re willing to do.
- On one hand, “no” can be a complete sentence. But sometimes, you may find it helpful not just to say “no” but to explain why. This will help the other person to understand your position.
- Offer alternatives: if you can’t do something, suggest someone who can.
- Be firm: don’t let anyone talk you into something you don’t want to do.
Saying no is hard, but it’s essential to set boundaries to control your time. And tell yourself, it isn’t a no forever, just a “no” for right now.
How to set priorities
You may be struggling with too many commitments because everything sounds great to you, and you want to say yes to everything. But just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s necessary.
Tips for setting Your priority
Start by evaluating your commitments and see which ones are essential. If there are some that you can let go of, do so. Stopping a commitment mid-stream can be difficult, but it’s necessary if you want to reduce your stress levels.
Consider how you want to spend your time. What is truly important to you? Make a list of your priorities and start saying no to the things that don’t fit into that list.
The best I’ve found to do this is to list my priorities by category, not activity.
For example, my first priority is serving and communing with God, and my second is my kids. So, if a volunteer activity comes my way that sounds like something I’d like to do, I’d measure it against my priorities. I decline if it isn’t kid-related, and I don’t believe God is calling me to it.
This method doesn’t mean you have to say no to everything outside your priority. Instead, remind yourself that there are seasons in our lives that are too busy for anything outside what’s most important.
One more important note to consider: the word priority was never meant to be plural as “priorities.” By definition, you can only have one priority. Let this relive you of what you think you “should” be doing when you consider your commitments.
The Last Word for Single Parents
Single parents simply have more responsibilities than most. But that doesn’t mean we have to feel bogged down and run ragged. It might be time to take a step back and assess your commitments. Honestly ask yourself where can you say no?
First, determine what is truly important to you and make that your priority. Let go of the commitments that no longer serve you and say no to the things that don’t fit your priorities. Be assertive and direct when you say no, and offer alternatives if you can’t do something.
Remember, saying no is not a forever thing. It’s just a “no” for right now.
And finally, don’t forget to be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can.