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Saying no really nicely

There are so many things that we COULD be doing with our time. I always say that time management is a political issue, meaning that putting our time where others want it to be can be a political choice. It’s political because you have to take into account where your boss want you to focus, where your client wants you to focus, where you want to put your time.

Sometimes you do have more discretion over where your time goes. Still you need to make that choice.

Which means sometimes you have to say no.

Tim Ferris includes a “What have you had to say no to in order to get to where you are now” element to many of his interviews. To get important things done you have to NOT do some other less important things. In a podcast whose link has expired he reads out letters from people who rejected his overtures to interview him for a recent book.

With permission he shares their exact emails which are polite and caring and which say no anyway.

Some of the relevant points. When you say no:

  • Give context (e.g. I’ve been really busy with work projects recently and have no time for my family / art / drawing / ping pong)
  • Flatter a little (e.g. I know I’m going to kick myself for not being part of this, but I have to stay true to my intentions)
  • Make it clear it’s not personal (e.g. you are one of several projects I just don’t have time for)


Here’s another take on how to say no to your boss.

I’ve done a lot of work on the how to say no nicely thing. See here:

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