Write It Down: On Scheduling Saying “No”

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.

Everything is more powerful when highlighted.
Everything is more powerful when highlighted.

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.

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