For most of my life, when someone (anyone) asks me if I am “free” at a certain time, unless someone else has already made plans with me, I feel like I have to say “yes.” No matter if I want to do the activity or not, or really just need time to myself, I have this persistent hang-up about availability (in that I feel that I must be available to everyone in my life at all times).
What I am good about is following my planner. As I was listening to Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, it dawned on me: if I make regular appointments to say “no” because I need to clean the house, be with my daughter, read, or just plan have the freedom to do nothing, I could say “no, I have plans,” and not feel like I was being a jerk.
I’ve only been blocking out “no” times for a week or so, but it has been one of the best practices I have ever started. For example, I highlight Tuesday and Thursday evenings so that I know that I have plans–to catch up on chores, to help Abigail with her homework, to just be home.
This past week I noticed that because I have that time blocked out, I am less resentful/uncertain about other plans throughout the week. Also, this practice is helping me gracefully say no in general, and think about what needs to be done, what I want to do, etc. before compulsively saying “yes” to every request or thought that pops into my mind. And that ability to say no or not yet feels distinctly like a freedom.