Some of us lead genuinely busy lives. But for plenty of people, the list of things we “have to” do includes plenty of crap we could easily say no to. Part of the problem may be our obsession with saying that superfluous things are necessary.
Picture: Ryan Ritchie/Flickr
As business blog Harvard Business Review explains, when we say things like “I have to get such and such done”, we trick ourselves into thinking that it’s more important than it may be. While you certainly “have to” pick the kids up from school, you don’t necessarily “have to” take on pro bono work for your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate on the weekend:
Every time we say, “I have to take this call” or “Ihave to send this piece of work off” or “I have to go to this client meeting,” we are assuming that previous commitments are nonnegotiable. Every time you use the phrase “I have to” over the next week, stop and replace it with “I choose to.” It can feel a little odd at first — and in some cases it can even be gut-wrenching (if we are choosing the wrong priority). But ultimately, using this language reminds us that we are making choices, which enables us to make a different choice.
Changing out how we describe the things we plan to do may not actually clear up room in our schedule. But it can help us make better decisions about how we spend our time. Certain tasks have to be a priority but most of us can choose to lighten the load with a simple “No”, once in a while.