January 3, 2017  

The Importance of Saying No And How To Do So Gracefully

Isn’t it funny how a small two letter word can be so difficult to say? Of all the words in the English language, it seems that most of us struggle with one of the smallest: “no.”

Time is a resource that cannot be replenished, which means we have to be super mindful with how we use it. I tend to get absorbed in being productive enough to get everything done, so I try to remind myself that it’s still fastest to not do things at all. 

We all fall into the trap of piling more and more onto our to-do lists without giving anything up, but let’s face it – that’s not sustainable. Eventually, we need to learn to weed out some of the excess to make more time for what is most important in our life.

Having a hard time saying no? Here are some practical ways to do it gracefully.

Remember this: If you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else. Put your energy into the things that matter most to you, not the should-dos that you assume others expect of you.

As I’ve learned to say no more regularly, there’s one question that has helped me tremendously: “What is on my calendar right now that I really wish I would have said no to?”

I try to learn from my answer to this question. If there’s something I am dreading and should have avoided agreeing to in the first place, it may be too late to back out now. But I will be sure to tuck that lesson away in my mind so I can more easily say no the next time something similar comes up.

One of the keys to being intentional with your time is to guard your calendar. Stop agreeing to everything that comes your way and weigh it against your priorities first. Be honest with yourself and the person who is asking something of you. If you don’t have the time to commit to it, be upfront politely decline.

It may be hard to believe, but your world will not fall apart just because you turn something down. In fact, saying no  to one thing frees up room for something much better to come along. The most efficient way to achieve something is by not doing it at all. It’s not about being lazy, it’s about understanding what’s truly worthwhile.

Having a hard time saying no? Here are some practical ways to do it gracefully.

Saying No Gracefully

I know it’s easy for me to tell you about the importance of saying no, but of course it’s not that simple to put into practice. I totally understand, which is why I took a few minutes to brainstorm these practical ideas for saying no with grace:

When you get a last-minute request…

“I would love to help, but I already have a commitment and it wouldn’t be fair to them if I flaked last minute. Thanks for understanding.”

When someone tells you about a problem of theirs that you feel obligated to offer help with but you just don’t have time…

“I totally understand how that would be hard.” (Don’t say anything else, just listen.)

When you are asked to do something that goes against your values…

“No thank you, I’m maxed out right now.”

When you get an offer to do something that’s optional and sounds great but you just don’t have time right now….

“It’s so nice of you to think of me! Unfortunately, I don’t have time to give it my best right now. I think it would be best if you offered this to someone else who can devote more attention to it.”

When you get asked to do something but it’s just not the right time…

“I would love to, but I won’t have time until January. Will you ask me again then?”

When you are asked to commit to something that conflicts with family time…

“Thanks so much for the invitation, but I never miss my kid’s games on Saturdays.”

When a boss or superior asks you to take on something and your plate is already full…

“Of course I can take care of it. I’m also working on these other two projects right now, which should I prioritize first?”

When you’re invited to do something that’s just not in your budget right now…

“Thanks for the invite! I’m really trying to stick to our budget this month, but how about we do _____ instead?” (Suggest a frugal alternative.)


Remember that time is a non-renewable resource, so it’s important to make the most of it! The next time you’re asked to commit to something, stop and consider if you’ll regret saying yes later on. It’s okay to protect your already-packed schedule by politely saying no sometimes.

Ready to crush your week?

If you are ready to be more intentional with your time, than you do not want to miss out on my eBook, Crush Your Week: The Complete Guide To Designing An Intentional Weekly Routine. It includes actionable strategies and worksheets to guide you through the entire routine creation process.

This book is designed to help you find time for all of your commitments and responsibilities as well as your big goals. Consider it an action guide rather than your average book. You will come away with a tangible routine you can put into practice immediately.


Struggling with time management? Organize your schedule with Crush Your Week: The Complete Guide To Designing An Intentional Weekly Routine. This isn't simply an ebook, but an action guide packed with practical advice and helpful worksheets.

Wishing you a lovely day,


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About the author

Emily Counts is the founder of Small Stuff Counts, a home and organization blog she created in 2013. Her goal is to help moms make home life easier so they can create beautiful, organized, and thriving homes. She shares life at home as a mom juggling two young kids and being a working mom with a corporate job. The Iowa-based blogger lives in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa, with her husband, two children, and rescue dog. Emily has collaborated with brands including The Container Store, Cricut, Command Brand, Bissell, Sam's Club and Rubbermaid.

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