The value of saying no

6 August 2012

On her Facebook page my buddy Gerailn Thomas shared the following words of wisdom this past Friday:

It’s Okay to Say No

I immediately clicked “Share.” That concept is something I’ve been thinking about a lot for the last month. As of July 1, I’m doing very little volunteering for my professional associations. And the openness and freedom this has created has brought enormous peace of mind.

Since the beginning of 2006, I’d been an active volunteer for the National Association of Professional Organizers, serving on the board of directors of the St. Louis chapter, and serving as a volunteer on several national committees. For six straight years as a NAPO St. Louis board member, I attended monthly board meetings. I’ve missed only three or four meetings in all that time.

My board service ended May 15, as did a national committee chairmanship. That freed up a chunk of time.

I served on the national board of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization as its marketing director from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2012. That was a huge investment of time. Huge. And when my term ended it opened up so much time on my calendar.

I love that spaciousness so much (I’m filling most of that time with my new passion, family history research) that I immediately started saying no. I’ve been asked to do several things by both NAPO St. Louis and ICD and my (very quick) answer is “No.” (In my head, sometimes, I’m saying “NO” or even “NO!!!”)

Don’t get me wrong, I am so happy I said yes to those commitments and never gave any thought to quitting early. I benefited enormously from the work and was also happy to contribute. But now that they’re over and some very able people are doing the work I used to do, I see the value in saying no.

For me, right now, here’s a short list of the benefits of turning down further volunteer opportunities:

  • My time is my own
  • I’m not under constant time pressure
  • My to-do list is much shorter
  • I get way less email (making my inbox zero habit easier)
  • I’ve stopped worrying that I’m not doing enough

That last point is sort of ironic, since I’m doing very little. But I had a tendency to overcommit myself, so that none of the volunteer jobs got as much attention as they deserved. Or at least it felt that way.

My own commitments tended to be professional. Yours might be personal or kid-oriented. But if you’re feeling frazzled, maybe you should consider dropping some of your commitments or, at the very least, saying no to new ones.

I’m here to tell you it’s quite liberating!

Tagged with: , , ,


OK, Janine – I’m taking your post as a sign — I’m going to say “no” to the latest ask from someone at church! Paulita

Paulita 08/16/2012 06:04 PM

Paulita, excellent! I bet you won’t regret it!

Janine Adams 08/16/2012 06:08 PM

I often feel that I should be doing more for my community, but every time I’ve volunteered for anything, it ends up being more of a commitment than I anticipated, so I’ve been really hesitant to get involved. Finding the right balance is quite a challenge!

Janet Barclay 07/17/2018 09:51 AM

Hi Janine, I agree with you, saying no is “liberating,” and most often, it’s not used enough. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences to demonstrate that purpose.

Shannon Gibson 07/18/2018 11:35 AM

Thanks for commenting, Janet and Shannon! I agree that that balance is tricky, Janet. I think establishing and reinforcing boundaries are so important. So glad you found the post helpful.

Janine Adams 07/18/2018 07:52 PM

Add your comment


Your email address will not be displayed or distributed.

You may use Textile formatting including:

  • _italics_ = italics
  • *bold* = bold
  • "text":url = text

About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

read more »

Recommended *

  • NAPO Golden Circle

  • Getting to Good Enough podcast