If You Over Commit, You Won't Submit:
Learning to Say "No"

© Cheryl Malandrinos- All Rights Reserved



Tis the season of endless obligations--shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating--and you still have to fit in everything else you regularly do. It’s easy to over commit any time during the year, but especially when the holiday season is in full swing.

An overcommitted writer usually isn’t the most productive writer. With little time left in the day to dedicate to writing, your number of submissions can go down or stop altogether.

Learning to say "no" isn’t easy, but it is a sure fire way to make sure you don’t overextend yourself this holiday season.

First Step

The first step in any needed change is acknowledging the problem. Donna Birk, a trainer, coach, and founder of People Builders, states learning to say no is a three-stage process. In the first stage, she says, we have "identified our need to learn to say ‘no’ and make it one of our goals."

She also says this is where we will identify opportunities from the past where we could have said no, but didn’t.

But how do you use that knowledge to manage your time better?

Making Decisions

Consider these things when deciding to take on something new.

  • Does this fit in with my goals? Setting goals is essential for any writer. Staying committed to your writing goals will help you identify if a project is worth taking on.

  • How much is on your calendar? Carefully examine your calendar when asked to be part of another project. Find out how much time you will need to commit to this new project and take a critical look at if you have that time available.

  • Are you comfortable with this project? Sometimes the people or the type of work involved might make you feel uncomfortable working on a project.

  • Are you the best person for this project? Identify how much knowledge you have on the subject and if you are the right person for it.

Now that you have given thought to all these things, what happens if you have to say no?

Saying "No"

A simple, straight-forward, "No, I cannot help," is usually the best answer, but it isn’t always easy. You almost feel like you’re being mean or selfish. While you shouldn’t feel the need to explain yourself, if you want to say "no" in a gentler way you can try these ideas from Online Organizing:

  • "I need to focus on my career right now." There’s nothing wrong in admitting that your writing is important to you.

  • "I don’t have any room in my calendar." If your plate is full, then it’s full.

  • "I’m not comfortable with that." Taking on a project that makes you uncomfortable will add unnecessary stress to the situation.

  • "I have no experience with that," or "This really is not my strong suit." Admit your limitations up front. This will allow you to work on things you do well.

The last thing you need to consider is something that time management expert, Dr. Donald Wetmore has touched upon. No one but you knows where you are taking your life. If you keep saying "yes" when you should be saying "no" then people will continue to take up your time, possibly keeping you from accomplishing what you really want to do.

Saying "no" and staying focused on your writing goals will help you make the time to submit this holiday season, and every day throughout the year.



About the Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in time management and organization for writers. She has also written articles on everyday life in the 1800’s, gardening, parenting, and women’s health issues. Cheryl is also a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can find out more about Cheryl by visiting her website at http://ccmalandrinos.tripod.com/  






Writer's Guide to Time Management