November can be a really busy month. Projects are hitting their stride in the run up to the end of the calendar year (and a holiday break). Your life has returned to its normal level of “busy”, with commitments and concerns outside of work. More demands are trickling in as everyone’s life gets fuller. Check in, how are you feeling (personally) about your work and commitments? Do you feel excited and challenged, or overwhelmed…like you are barely hanging on? Maybe a bit of both?
It is easy to slip into impulsiveness when life is over-flowing; saying “yes” to things you really want to do (but may not have time to do) or by saying “no” before the person making the request has even finished speaking. Or maybe you studiously avoid making eye contact in the hope that the work will just sort itself out. You are perfectly normal if one, or all, of these things are happening when you get busy.
Doing things is a comfort zone, that’s why often those who are the busiest tend to take on more. Being busy, being needed, can feel good even if it makes life difficult. This may be happening in your work life, or your home life, or both. Check in, what compels you to say “yes”? What need of yours is being met by saying “yes”? Which of your needs are you ignoring by taking more on? Is saying “yes” an impulse, or a well thought out response?
Protecting your time and schedule is a way to cope with feeling overwhelmed or ensuring you have control, and makes it feel necessary to say “no”. It’s not that you shouldn’t say “no”, it’s more in how you say it. Say “no” with compassion. Rather than an abrupt statement refusing the request (driven by impulse), acknowledge this other person’s/team’s need and importance, and then contextualize why having you take on more now isn’t going to get them the results they are looking for. “This is such a good initiative, and I would like to help. Right now, I am on a tight deadline to complete the reporting for year-end, and I can’t do justice to your request…”
Quietly withdrawing to avoid being tasked with more work is also an impulse. A healthy way to approach requests is through acknowledging what is right in the moment. If you are busy, don’t hide. Help the person making the request to understand that their project is important, but you are unable to help in the timeframe they need. If you are hiding so as not to be asked to do something because you don’t know how to say “no”, it may work, or the work may find you anyway. Learn how to say “no” with compassion, it’s an important skill to have.
Your time and needs are important. So is learning to advocate for them through voicing what is, and is not, possible during busy periods in you work and life. Balancing saying “yes” and “no” is all about using your voice to help others understand you care, but have commitments you’ve made that are also important (which includes your own well-being).