How to Turn Down Tasks Without Actually Having to Say “No”

by Joe Rando Joe Rando | Dec 15, 2020 8:00:00 AM

turn down tasks without saying no

I always try to see the best in people. In my mind, people are generally good and want to help. While this perspective has served me well for the most part, it can lead to problems in certain situations.

One of those situations is when people say “yes” to helping with something, even when they know (or perhaps don’t know) they shouldn’t. This is often seen when a person is asked to do something from somebody like their boss.

Instead of saying “no,” they likely agree to the request even if they already have a full plate.The problem with this, is even though they think they’re being helpful, it’s actually to the detriment of the task at hand and those involved. Whether it be their boss or co-worker the promise was given to, or the spouse who you won’t see on Saturday night due to your overcommitted schedule, someone will be disappointed.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to put yourself in this situation. You don’t have to be the bad guy that says “no” to a task. In fact, the power of “no” is never saying “no.” Instead, when presented with a task or request, you just need to respond by asking a question:

"Which of these things that I have committed to do you want me to not do?"

You can imagine this is especially powerful with somebody like a boss. Let them be the one to make the decision that something should go. Put the ball in their court.

Why your unfulfilled to-do list is your secret weapon

The key to being successful with this approach is to have a list that shows everything you have going on along with due dates. This provides a good visual to show that you aren’t saying “no” because you don’t want to, but because you just don’t have the adequate time to do the request justice. However, if another task can be removed in order to accommodate the new request, then you can accept it.

This will do a few things:

  • Ensure you don’t overcommit
  • Helps you avoid burnout
  • Gives a clear picture to the assignee of everything you have going on
  • Allows you to prioritize what is essential to get done now, and what can wait

Put a system in place that shows your tasks and commitments

If you’re like many people, it’s tough to produce a concise list of your to-dos, so you need a system that can allow you to immediately see all of your unfulfilled commitments in one place. While you can certainly house a list of these tasks in a Google Doc, Notes app, or other, they are often unreliable and can send you into a wild goose chase jumping back and forth between platforms to remember what your running to do list is.

LifeStarr can get you out of that jam. It is the only task management/collaboration technology that doesn't cost you time to use it. The app allows you to create tasks that you can assign to yourself or anyone else, and once a task is created, all communication, files, and notes related to the task are all in one place. 

The Role feature in the app allows you to view tasks by category (work, personal, volunteer, etc) so that you can quickly and easily pull up tasks for various areas in your life...all filtered automatically for you. So, it’s a perfect tool to use to see what you currently have going on, what’s in the pipeline, and what you do and don’t have time for.

The power of saying “no” without actually saying “no”

By taking this approach to responding to a task request, it lets you off the hook without being the “no” man, and it benefits everybody in the long run. You won’t let your boss or co-works down, or your family, because you have a clear understanding of what you can and can’t commit to.

Had you said “yes,” to a task or project you couldn’t fully commit to, you’d risk project delays, unwanted stress, etc. It’s better to be honest up front than go down a rabbit hole and disappoint the people involved, including yourself.

To help put this practice into place, be sure to create a LifeStarr account. It’s easy to use, keeps you organized, saves you tons of time...and it’s free (and always will be)! Sign up today by clicking the button below.

Want to be the first to know when LifeStarr launches? Fill out the form below!


Subscribe Now

Posts by Topic

Additional Reading