ways to say no

10 Simple Ways To Say No So You’ll be Less Overwhelmed by Your Calendar

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You’re looking for simple ways to say no. I get it.

When I have a full calendar, I’m frazzled, exhausted and overwhelmed. If I work all day and am busy every night, my inner peace will vanish.

Something’s got to give. Powering through only works for so long. 

Learning to say no became a matter of survival for me. 

Here are 10 things I learned about saying no to build a calendar that works for you. 

10 simple ways to say no to get control over your calendar

1. Identify what’s important to you and decide to protect that time. Put those important things in your calendar ahead of time and then don’t override those commitments to yourself. When you get an invitation say “let me check my calendar”. Know that it’s okay to say “I’m not available then” because you have commitments to yourself. If you feel comfortable, share what you’ll be doing instead, “I told myself I would run three times and week and I’ve got a run scheduled then”. If they’re likely to try to join in on your plan, don’t give an explanation for why you’re saying no.

ways to say no

2. Let people know your limits before there’s an invitation, so they’re not surprised. When I worked a as a therapist, I just needed to be cozy at home on a Friday night. I started saying to my friends, “I don’t go out on Friday nights, stick a fork in me, I’m done by Friday night”. They knew it was pointless to ask me. 

3. Use humor to say no. My husband, Adam, hates pools. He jokes about it with our neighbors who love the pool. They know he will never say yes to an invitation to come swimming. They’ve stopped even asking, which means he doesn’t have to come up with a new way to say no every time they ask.  

4. Delay giving an answer. Give yourself time to consider what you’re saying yes to and what you’re sacrificing when you put time and energy into this extra activity. Fall back on “I need to check my calendar” so you have time to think about it. Then use, “I don’t have the bandwidth right now, but thanks for thinking of me.” If you’re at work and you’re up to you eyeballs, tell them what you’ll be working on instead, “I’m in the middle of writing my grant.” Suggest the name of someone else who may be genuinely interested in the opportunity. “I know Jen has a lot of ideas about this, maybe she’d like to join the committee.”

5. Reframe saying no as a chance for authenticity. If you’re worried they’ll get upset when you say no, instead, focus on how setting an authentic limit is a chance to be more fully known. We recently dropped out of our neighborhood monthly dinner group and this was the perspective that helped me get through the fear of the uncomfortable moment. 

6. No to the offer doesn’t mean no to friendship. Be loving when you deliver your no so they know it’s not a rejection of them. Delivering a no lovingly says that while you can’t do the thing, you do care about them. And it also helps to calm your pounding heart. If there’s an alternate plan that you’re excited about, offer that instead, “I can’t do that, but I do want to see you. How about we get a time on the calendar to do this instead.”

7. Say no for now if you’re in a season of sacrifice. If you’re in a period where it’s hard to commit to anything new, say that and leave the door open for connecting later. “I’m consumed by writing deadlines right now, but when things lighten up in a few months, let’s grab a cup of tea.”

8. Don’t give a maybe to an invitation. “I’ll try to make it” prevents your host from making a plan for the right number of people. A straight no is kinder. And it fully lets you off the hook.

ways to say no

9. Let your devices set the boundary for you. If you get a lot of offers for spontaneous get togethers, turn off automatic notifications so you’re not bombarded with email or text notifications. Use autoresponders and change your voicemail. Use the “I’m driving” notification so people know you’re not available. Take a day or two to get back to people and they’ll know you’re not glued to your devices and available at the drop of a hat.

10. If you’re not already thinking you need it, the answer is no. So when someone asks you to join their knitting circle, Shakespeare book club or tantric yoga circle, if your response isn’t an “OMG I’ve been looking for that”, it’s a no or at the very least, “let me check and get back to you” To say no, try “Thanks for thinking of me, I’m not gonna be able to make it out.”

The truth about saying no

In a world that’s built around a work hard, play hard mindset, it’s the ultimate act of self-care to be thoughtful about what you commit to. 

And saying no is a skill that can be built.

The more you do it, the better you get at it. With practice, you may even find that you can say no without feeling bad.

You deserve to live a life of your own design.

Hi, Friend. I'm Marya. I'm so glad you're here!

I’m here to help women feel good inside and out through approachable everyday style inspiration and encouragement for midlife. Once upon a time, I worked as a therapist and coach. Now, I’m a holistic style blogger studying style coaching! Be So You celebrates leaning into who we were meant to be! 

Read about my  journey to self-discovery at 40. Follow me on Instagram here and Pinterest here. Send me a quick question through my contact page here.  

Fit Note: I’m midsized at 5’6″, 160 pounds, with size 12 jeans.

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