Every “yes” Is Also a “no”

As hard as I’ve tried, I still haven’t been able squeeze more than 24 hours out of a single day. It’s the most finite resource I have available to me. Knowing this, I try to allocate it accordingly.

There is always an opportunity cost to time. This cost is the value or benefit of whatever you are giving up. Asking myself the question “what do I have to give up in order to…?” before saying “yes” to anything has really changed the way I make decisions about what ends up on my calendar.

Everything I say “yes” to is also a “no” to something else.

An example of this from my own life, which is the catalyst for this article, is a side project I took on recently. It was an opportunity to work on something I felt was exciting, and my eagerness to work on it blinded me to the consequences of saying “yes”.

I gave up time with my family, friends and exercise in order to meet deadlines. Reflecting back on my vision for success in the different areas of my life, I realize this actually took me further away from where I want to be, even though I considered the project a success and was happy with the results.

Investing Your Time Wisely

I evaluate how I spend my time just like I do any other scarce resource. Every week I look back at where my time was spent and how it aligns with the things I deem important. It’s usually pretty obvious when things are out of alignment.

This sort of reflection makes it easy to see where I need to make adjustments, but the key to change is planning my time and respecting the commitments I make.

It can be hard to honor these commitments when you’re the only one who knows about them, so I would recommend getting these set in a calendar and sharing it with someone who cares about you. Have them help keep you accountable.

The next time you need to respond to a request for your time, remember what you are saying “no” to in order to say “yes”. Spend 10 seconds thinking about your opportunity cost before making a decision. I think you’ll be surprised what ends up becoming a “no”.

This is going to be tough at first. It will be uncomfortable for you to say “no”, but people will start to respect how you are living according to your vision and values. After all, if you don’t respect your own time, how can you expect someone else to?