Welcome to this issue of "Dr. T's Timely Tips" by Dr. Tony Alessandra. Please send your feedback to info@alessandra.com!

Learn to Say No

Saying no is one of the most important tools for time management you can use, and a way to avoid overload, overtime, and stress. Because of the need to please, the fear of offending, or other emotion-laden reasons, we sometimes undercut our own priorities and undervalue our own time. So, we say "Yes" first and regret it later as we let others squander our time.

- Have you ever agreed to an abbreviated deadline even though it meant missing your daughter's dance recital?
- Do you regularly agree to assist colleagues even though it means getting home an hour later every day? - Do you do favors for friends and resent that they never seem to reciprocate?

Determine what your priorities are - and stick to them. Draw the line at saying yes to any request that will pull you away from these priorities.

"We have to prevent others from wasting our time," said Mark McCormack, the late globetrotting executive. "This calls for alertness, assertiveness and tact."

One way to do this is to figure out how long a given conversation or meeting should take and then allot it neither more nor less time than it deserves.

Alternatively, you can practice counting to ten before responding to a request for your time -- and if the answer must be no, suggest other ways, or other people, to meet the requester's need. This will alleviate some of your potential guilt by providing alternate solutions -- you will still be helping, and you won't have to stress about wasted time.

Above all, keep your own priorities firmly in mind.

Here's to more personal insight,


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Tony has developed a very effective method of saying No.

Saying no can be hard, but you must develop this ability in order to create functional boundaries in your life.

There are two basic rules I like to follow:

1. I say no to anybody who wants to borrow money. I am very generous in giving my time, advice, and help, but money is where I have to draw the line. Every time I have loaned someone money, it has adversely affected my relationship with that person -- when people owe you money, it puts them in a lesser status, and they come to resent it even after you "helped" them by lending them the money they requested.

2. I say no to any business call after 6:00 PM. I try to devote time after 6:00 to my wife. I just let the phone ring. We don't spend enough quality time with friends and family as it is. Any method you can find to create more time for loved ones will be appreciated!