These days we often find ourselves in a situation where we simply do not have enough time to do the things we want to do. It is a sickness that has germinated slowly into our very beings and if not careful it is something that can have some pretty disastrous effects.

I’ve written a few times about productivity and how I can stay focused, positive and motivated in a world where it is all about doing it now, fully booked calendars and over committing.

How busy are you? Do you find yourself with fully booked days, evenings and weekends? Do you have a calendar so busy that organizing a braai with you can only happen at least a month from now? Are you tired and frustrated because you find yourself constantly on the go where all you want to do is sit down and do nothing? Then my friend, your problem is simple… your plate is too full.

The solution is simple. Learn to say no. Easy right?

Part of our “busy” culture and world we live in is the unhealthy need to connect with everybody and anybody. I say this is unhealthy because this desire has transformed from a healthy need to connect with friends and family to a unhealthy drive to make the most of the little time we already have to suck the last bit of life and enjoyment out of every free moment we have. We feel this drive because we spent the most of our days doing the things we don’t want to do in the first place, which leaves us with this crazy desire to over-book and commit to the things we would rather be doing. The result is all the same… when the socials are over, when work is done, and when you finally get time to relax and reflect, you realize you are dead tired, demotivated, frustrated and depressed.

This may all sound a bit overly dramatic, but at the core I believe this is the true sickness we are dealing with. We live our lives not doing what we want to do with the most of our time (our daily jobs) which leaves us cramming in the things we want to do in the little time that remains. This leaves us even more depressed to go back to our sad jobs where we start another week planning and saying yes to more things we would rather be doing. We are giving the most important things in our life and crumbs that fall off the table.

Obviously a good first step to get out of this rut is filling your days with things you love doing in the first place. But this is an entire journey on it’s own. For now a good first step is simply to learn to say no.

Say no to the things that please other people and say yes to the things that please you. We first need to be full/whole/happy ourselves before we can ensure others are whole. Saying no may mean that you say no to some truly worthy and positive things.

Saying No to worthwhile projects, habits and social events, and letting go of the idea that we can do everything, is very difficult. But it’s not more difficult than trying to do everything and not getting enough sleep and being overly stressed out. Saying No is hard, but it means you say Yes to focus and sanity.