1 min read

Avoid Time Debt

Like financial debt, too much time debt can be a heavy burden to bear. You get yourself into time debt by saying “yes” to too many future commitments.

You get yourself into time debt by saying “yes” to too many future commitments. In actuality, saying “yes” to a future commitment is a verbal promissory note. Promising away your future creates stress. You know, at some point, those time commitments to other people will come due. Can you keep your promises? Do you really want to? It all hangs over your head.

Make it a point to be as frugal with your time as you are with your money. Respond to requests for your time honestly. If you know you don’t intend to or just plain can’t keep the time promise, then graciously decline the commitment. Maybe you don’t know if you’ll have time.

Be honest about that too. Say something like, “I’d like to help you with that, but right at this moment, I’m just not sure how my schedule will play out with some projects I already have going. Can I get back to you?” In this way, you’ve offered to consider the request based on your own personal time needs.

Be generous with your time, yes, but avoid the needless stress of time-debt.

Saying no is an instant time-saver and is everyone’s prerogative. Here are four simple tips from author Jo Coudert that help you do it in a way that’s not harsh or unkind.

Respond with one of these

  1. "I'm sorry, but I'm currently working on a project with a deadline, and I can't take on any additional tasks right now."
  2. "I appreciate you asking for my help, but I'm afraid I don't have the expertise or experience to assist you with this particular task."
  3. "I'm sorry, but I have other commitments and priorities that require my attention at the moment."
  4. "I wish I could help, but I'm already at capacity with my workload and can't take on any more projects."
  5. "Unfortunately, I'm not available to assist with this task right now, but perhaps we can schedule some time in the future to discuss it further."

It's important to be respectful and polite when saying "no" to someone who asks for your help at work. You can offer alternative solutions, such as recommending someone else who might be able to help or suggesting that they reach out to a different department or team.    

Be ready. Say no when you mean it. In the long run, it’s much easier than saying yes and will keep you out of time debt.

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