Work Strategies

Yes, I’m a ‘Yes’ Woman

One ADHD woman confesses to serial overcommitment — underestimating the time things will take and taking on too much.

Shot of three businesswomen with ADHD working in an office
Shot of three businesswomen working in an office

I did it again today: agreed to take on a fascinating new project that surely won’t take too much time and isn’t even due for several weeks. No problem, right? WRONG!

When my colleague called and asked for 10 minutes of my time, I was flattered. We talked and talked; she had great ideas. By the time we said goodbye, 30 minutes had elapsed. And not only had I agreed to her original request, I had expanded it to include even MORE fascinating tidbits that I was confident I could deliver.

Knowing that my ADHD brain is often responsible for overcommitment, my friend wisely told me: “I know you have a lot going on right now, so if you get into this and realize you don’t have enough time, just let me know.” Bless her for saying that. Because I had no business saying “yes” to anything.

My life is full to the brim at the moment. My 18-year-old Sheltie is slowly slipping away; each day takes a new toll on his aging body, so my attention is pulled to the canine world. I am reworking my website and shopping cart, and trying to get all my video in online storage, so my computer brain is fried. I’m planning a re-retreat for some friends, which demands decisions and planning. That’s the tip of my iceberg for today alone.

Several years ago, someone told me that my life is already 100% full. Not one minute isn’t taken up doing something. That ‘something’ isn’t necessarily productive. It can be eating or watching TV or taking the dog outside. But every single minute is already being used in my life.

[Free Download: Keep Track of Your Time]

So if I want to add something new, it only makes sense that I will have to STOP doing one of the things I am already doing. If I want to add a dog walk into my schedule, I won’t get to watch reruns of HGTV. If I take on a new client, my website work will slow down. It’s simple addition and subtraction. Elementary, my dear.

But I have trouble with subtraction. I perpetually believe I can squeeze new projects into the time that is already booked to the ceiling. Perhaps I can, but not without squishing something else into a corner. A few days later, when the squished stuff becomes urgent, I have to squish the new stuff aside. It’s called management by crisis. I spend my time putting out fires instead of enjoy those fascinating tidbits.

So, yes, I’m a “Yes” woman from way back. But starting today, I’m going to learn to like saying “No thank you” in a gracious and firm way. Unless I look at my schedule and make a CHOICE to let go of time with my husband or to stop folding my socks, I’m not taking on any new commitments. And when my current load gets lighter, I might, just might have room for the next new fascinating thing that comes along.

Now it’s time to call my friend and thank her for her loophole ’cause I’m gonna use it. “No” is a perfectly good answer. Isn’t it?

Do you have trouble saying no when people ask you for a favor? Do you realize that you’ll have to let something else go? Or do you try to squeeze it in like I do (or did!)? Let me hear from you (but don’t reply unless you let something else go!!!

[Simplify Your ADHD Life by Learning to Say “No”]

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  1. I stunbled across the best way to say NO when I was pregnant. It was a difficult pregnancy after years of trying and I was motivated to reduce my stress. I came up with the phrase, “I am a season of no.”. Uh his turned out to be a great way to kindly say no, without a lot of explanation. If I was inclined I might invite people to ask me again next time, year, etc. Fast forward 13 years later and I have disengaged myself from things I no longer have time or desire to do and have the energy and excitement to say yes when I really want to. Before this season I always felt too busy and unable to do anything well. Because I have a famlly I do f find myself over busy at times, but I am now able to control it a bit more. Another situation is that it is hard to say no when you know they really need help. My solution is to either be in my season of no or to negotiate what I can do. I can’t do what you are asking, but I can help with a donation, something smaller, etc. The struggle is real.

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