Learning to Say a Two Letter Word

Learning to Say NoOh, the word that causes me to cringe, to rethink my time management, to wait with baited breath for the other person to get upset. That little two letter word.


I am not good at saying this to things that I should say it too. I think that I’m capable of squeezing in just one more thing; one more post, one more writing gig, one more social media push, one more email, one more one more commitment. One more and one more and then suddenly it’s 16 and I’m staring at a to do list full of “just one more’s”.

And you know what this leaves me with? It leaves me with being stretched so thin that I don’t do anything well. Jack (or Jill) of all trades. Master of none.

I don’t want that. These companies and people I care about don’t deserve that either, from me or just in general. They went looking for someone who was willing to give an “all” not a “I FORGOT – LET ME GET THIS TO YOU IN 5 SECONDS – SORRY IT SUCKS.”

But I want to do it ALL. I want to say yes to everything fun and shiny and bright – things that make my heart jump in excitement with stretching my writing and having me keep busy. On top of this dilemma is the fact that as a work at home mom, it’s pretty easy to squeeze in more things. I don’t have a 9-5 work day and so I think, “I could do that at night! Or early morning! Through lunch!”

But it’s leaving me drained and feeling less creative than ever.

So yesterday, I started to say no and to exit things I wasn’t giving my whole heart to. Things I’ve held onto for fear of disappointing or making someone angry. In the meantime, they might have been already because I missed deadlines or wasn’t able to really participate the way I wanted. I narrowed my focus down to things I need/want to do. The ones that pay because otherwise I won’t get a lot of time to write. And the ones I know I can commit to and keep up with.

It didn’t feel good at first. I still think about some of it, but the weight that was lifted. The nagging feeling that I was behind or missed something – most of that is gone. That’s a relief, and it frees up someone else to take my spot that can do a better job.

Here’s the other thing – sometimes overbooking work causes me to lose the time with Bella I should be spending. I want to homeschool her, but it’s easy to schedule myself right over that and simply rush to put that time together. Doesn’t my little girl deserve just as much time and effort put into her learning as my writing? If we can start now, when things become more time consuming in the later years and need more time for planning, we’ll have a good schedule down by then. But if I can’t find the time here and now, I probably never will.

And I’ll miss out on things I really wanted to do with her – for things I didn’t really want to do with others.

It isn’t easy. This isn’t fixed. It’s always going to be a struggle. But at least I can say I’m really, really trying to set boundaries, find priorities, and know sometimes it’s ok to say no.

About the author

Diana blogs at Diana Wrote about her life with a daughter here and three sons in heaven, life as an army wife, and her faith. You can also find her work on Babble.com, Still Standing Magazine, She Reads Truth, The New York Times, and The Huffington Post. Smaller glimpses into her day are on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on Pinterest .


  1. Jamie says:

    Right there with you. I think part of it is my personality but part of it is not being confined to the 9 to 5. Definitely an on-going battle for me too.
    Jamie recently posted..Favorites from the Interwebs…My Profile

  2. Observacious says:

    I’ve been getting better at saying “no,” and it’s wonderful. Sometimes I still feel sort of bad about it, but for more the most I just sit back and enjoy the opportunity to breathe.
    Observacious recently posted..Pictures with Santa: My failure as a motherMy Profile
    Twitter: observacious


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