Learning When to Say No

Lately I’ve been realizing the importance of taking care of myself. I have a tendency to stress myself out. I commit to too much and overwhelm myself to the point of exhaustion. Working two jobs plus taking a full course load has caused me to put some things on the back burner that shouldn’t necessarily be there. My room has been a mess for weeks, I’m sleep deprived, I never have time to make a lunch and going to the gym has become a thing of the past.

A friend once called me an “opportunity junkie,” which I sort of took as a compliment at the time, but I’m starting to reconsider.

When I’m trying to do everything, I’m not able to do any of it very well. It’s important to step back and evaluate whether taking on that new job or project will really help me advance in the long run or just consume any free time I might have left. Our professors and employers constantly encourage us to give 110% to our careers and never stops working, but what good is that if your life outside of work is suffering because of it?

I used to get antsy if I didn’t have something to do, but the past few busy years have made me relish in these rare moments. There’s something to be said for allowing your mind and soul to have a little bit of breathing space and down time. Without it, we’ll burn ourselves out before we can say the word “paycheck.” I told my manager I need one day off a week that I don’t have class or work or internship. It’s allowed me to recuperate, spend more time with friends and family and do the things I enjoy doing.

Oh, and I have since organized my room and starting taking the time to feed myself properly and get more sleep. Turns out it makes a world of difference. Who would have thought?!


-Haley Martin

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6 Responses to Learning When to Say No

  1. Hannah Olson says:

    I feel your pain, Haley! It’s hard to say no, especially when you like being involved and busy most of the time. One thing I’ve learned is that I actually really enjoy and need time for myself. Whether it’s with friends or actually solitude, I think it’s vital. Thanks for sharing and I hope you start to feel less stressed out soon 🙂

  2. Jasmine N. Rockow says:

    Wise words Ms. Martin. I am so glad your manager respected your need for a more balanced life. And congrats for asserting your needs!

  3. Adaira Floyd says:

    I’m glad you shared this. I’m going through the same thing – even to the extent that I’ve felt so busy that I don’t even feel like myself sometimes. Good job putting yourself and your health first – many people neglect that. I agree that we need to allow ourselves time to relax and not get consumed with our work load.

  4. Emily Kirk says:

    Heard that, girl! I feel like I’ve always been a sort of “yes” person, as I see you are. It’s hard to say “no” to an opportunity you think you may be able to benefit or learn something from. You bring up a good point about taking care of yourself, too – it’s important! My old co-worker at the J School wrote a fun blog post about being over-worked and taking the #LifeAsAJStudent to the edge: http://www.neil-kirkpatrick.com/its-only-week-three/

  5. I completely agree, Haley! Although it can be difficult to say no to projects because you think you may disappoint someone, it is sometimes necessary. I like that you made the point that it’s more important to take on less tasks to ensure that those tasks get your full attention and will be completed to the best of your ability!

  6. pdxsx says:

    Everyone needs some personal time, Haley. I’m glad you’ve been able to recognize that and take advantage.

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