Find time to read by saying NO more often

Have you ever thought about how to find time to read by spending less time fulfilling other people’s requests?

Do you know that every time you say YES when someone asks you to do something you are either moving away from achieving your own goals or helping that person to move closer to achieving their goals?

There is nothing wrong with helping other people to achieve their goals, but it shouldn’t be because you are programmed to say YES to everything.

Help others

After all, a rising tide raises all ships. Meaning if you help someone to succeed, there is a chance they will also help you later. This follows from the Reciprocity law of influence as explained by a Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which I highly recommend. The law says that, if you do something for someone (even a tiny thing) they will remember that and try to find ways to reciprocate. Kevin Spacey put this whole idea nicely when he said, “If you are lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.

However, the decision to say yes and accept a request from someone needs to be a conscious one. We all have 24 hours in a day. The time you spend doing someone a favour means that you will have much less time for things that you should be doing for yourself, like reading. I often hear people saying they don’t have time to read or spend with their family, but when a friend calls and says let’s go for a beer or asks for a favour, they suddenly have time. It’s all a matter of priorities, if you ask me.

Why you should say NO

Think about this for a moment. What if you knew that your friend has just finished doing the most important task he had to do for that day to get closer to his goals and is now taking a break? What if he is asking you to sacrifice your most productive time of the day to take a break with him? Would you just agree? Believe me, if you practise saying no more often, you will suddenly have more time to do the things you love.

Sometimes you can’t say no and that’s OK.

You can’t say no when your child needs help with his homework, right?

But you can definitely say NO to a lot of things, if you keep this idea in mind.

Though a little risky, you could say no to your boss when he asks you to do something outside your working hours. Favours to bosses have a funny tendency of suddenly becoming part of your job without you even noticing.

Make no your default answer to most requests you get. Believe me, if something is so important that your participation is required, the interested person will let you know. They will either beg you or ask you again or they simply won’t accept no for an answer without trying to convince you. The idea is to use this tactic to find out, if you are spending your time on important or necessary stuff. As with most things in life, finding the right balance between saying no and yes is required. This will differ for each and everyone of us. You need to find your so-called “sweet spot” by trial and error.

Find time to read

So, if you were planning to ask me for something that requires sacrificing my reading time, the answer is no. I am afraid you caught me at the wrong time as I am practising the power of saying NO. I am only trying to find time to read. Better luck next time. Having read this blog post in its entirety, you should know what to do, if you really need my help.

If you want to learn more about the power of saying no, I recommend the book “Skyrocket Your Productivity: How to Get the Right Things Done in Less Time, Achieve Mor by Doing LESS and Live The Life on Your Terms” by Daniel Cerescu.

However, here is a word of warning from Zig Ziglar before you get too carried away with this idea. You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

Over to you. How do you find time to read? How comfortable are you saying NO to people trying to make use of your valuable time? Leave a comment below.

Originally published at on May 19, 2016.