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This Is the Perfect Email to Send to Get Out of Any Work Commitment, Guilt-Free
Withdrawing gracefully, especially for people-pleasers, isn’t an easy task. But if you’re tired of taking on too much and constantly feeling over-extended, you have to start saying no up front and turning down commitments you’ve already agreed to.
The good news is, you can back out of a work commitment without feeling the scorn of everyone around you. Here’s how.
Learn to say no the right way.
Going back on a commitment the wrong way can easily create tension. But backing out the right way lets you exit the situation gracefully, without damaging your relationship or closing yourself off to future opportunities.
Just be polite and straightforward. Avoid over-explaining and making excuses. Even though it goes against all your people-pleasing tendencies, fight your urge to apologize. Instead, genuinely thank the other person for thinking of you for this opportunity. After all, they asked you because there’s something great about the work you do, and you can appreciate them for thinking of you in that way.
In terms of delivery, there is no one right way to give this message. With such a mix of in-person and virtual teams in the world today—and no one-size-fits-all work culture—there isn’t one best practice here. Use the approach, such as email, in person, or otherwise, that works within the cultural norm of your work environment — or what works best in the specific relationship.
Steal this script if you still feel icky.
If the thought of saying no still makes you break out in a cold sweat, here’s a template you can copy and paste. This rock-solid, no-guilt script is designed to help you back out of a commitment you said yes to, and you can tweak it to say no at first request as well. And you can tweak it to almost any type of work commitment you want to say no to.
When we first spoke, I was incredibly flattered that you asked me to [insert what they’re asking you to do]. [OPTIONAL: Give a genuine compliment.]
I try to be very deliberate about where I put my time, energy, and attention, and only say yes to opportunities that align with my top strengths and big-picture goals. Unfortunately, sometimes I say yes without considering the big picture, which, to my embarrassment, is what happened here.
While I would love to [insert thing they’re asking you to do], I must respectfully change my yes to a no. I’m finding myself overextended on my own internal commitments and don’t see a way to make everything happen to the standards I hold myself to.
OPTION 1: While I’m unable to commit, I can happily recommend a few others who would be a great fit for this.
[list a few people]
OPTION 2: I would love to [insert thing they’re asking you to do] if it works out again, so please keep me in mind for future opportunities.
Wishing you the best,
This script works because it’s 100% clear that you are backing out because the opportunity isn’t in alignment with what’s important to you and you’re unable to deliver. The great thing is, no one can argue with this! There’s also not an excuse or apology in sight, and you can even be of service by recommending other people, which is great for people pleasers who really truly want to help.
Be 100% convinced of your reason.
When backing out of a commitment, remember that you have a reason for saying no, whether it’s knowing you can’t (or don’t want to) deliver, feeling over-extended, or managing a client who’s overstepping boundaries.
Like spiritual teacher Byron Katie says, “Sometimes a no to you is a yes to me.” Backing out of something you’d rather not do means saying yes to your freedom, your sanity, and the things that matter the most to you. Just because you want to be great at the work you do doesn’t mean you want to stretch yourself impossibly thin and put others’ needs ahead of your own.
Stop saying yes to everything and everyone who wants a piece of you right now, and start saying yes to yourself, your career, and the work that’s important to you. Remember that being successful in any endeavor means being deliberate with your time and energy, and making decisions that serve your bigger goals — so be confident in your reason for saying no.
Jenny Shih is the creator of Make It Work Online and a business coach who has taught more than 25,000 women how to earn a full-time income working 30 hours per week or less as online, service-based entrepreneurs.
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Three Ways To Keep Your Productivity High At The End Of The Year
With the holiday upon us, vacation time scheduled, and a new year right around the corner, it’s not uncommon for productivity at work to take a nosedive at the end of the year. However, you can empower yourself to stay on track by making simple shifts in your day. Here are three easy ways to get started.
Make your goals tiny.
They say that success generates more success, but what happens when your goals don’t allow you to create that momentum? You can take control of your experience by breaking your goals down into their tiny parts, and working through them bit-by-bit.
Making your goals smaller has a ton of benefits:
- They are easier to start. The toughest part of reaching a goal is to take the first step. When a goal is a large project that might seem overwhelming or unattainable, taking that first step will be a lot harder than if you choose a small target that looks like low hanging fruit.
- They help you create a habit of success. Say you start your day with a big “to do” list, but at the end of the day you only have one or two things crossed off. You leave work feeling as though you haven’t accomplished much of anything. However, when you break your goals down into their tiny parts, you enable yourself to create a list of tasks that will take you much less time to accomplish, helping you to cross more items off your list. Do this consistently and you’ll create the habit of leaving work feeling happy with your contribution at the end of every day.
- They set you up to reach the big goals. Say you have a goal of running a marathon but have never run a mile before. Instead of focusing on the big goal of 26.2 miles, you focus your attention on the tiny goal of 1 mile, which is much more attainable! The day you hit that mile for the first time, you let yourself feel a fantastic sense of accomplishment. Then you change your goal to 2 miles, and achieve that. Then you run your first 5K, and so forth. Every single goal you meet gets you one step closer to that marathon. The same is true at work – when you create your tiny goals they should lead up to the broader goals you have, but do so in a way that allows you to experience consistent progress and celebrate your victories.
Break out your headphones.
When you work in an office with an open floor plan, a nice big pair of headphones can be your best friend when you want to stay focused on your work. Research has shown that listening to music while you’re working will spur you to complete tasks more quickly. But be careful – not all forms of music are created equal! Generally speaking, you’ll want to look for music without lyrics and with a relatively simple structure to avoid it being a potential distraction. When in doubt, classical music is your best bet, but you could also experiment with nature sounds, ambient music, or even video game soundtracks.
However, you don’t need to be listening to music at all for your headphones to support your productivity! The more focused you are, the more you’ll produce, but it’s hard to maintain your flow when you have people coming up to your desk all the time to chat. The simple act of wearing headphones – whether you’re playing music or not – sends the message to co-workers that you are in “do not disturb” mode and can help you fend off folks from interrupting your work for an impromptu question or conversation.
Start your New Year’s resolution early.
There’s no reason to wait until January 1st to hit the gym. Research has shown that exercise can have amazing benefits on your productivity at work, including a 41% increase in motivation, 21% increase in concentration, and a 22% increase in finishing work on time. Moreover, you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to see these results – you can do it with 30 minutes a day. So set your alarm for a half-hour earlier, hit the treadmill, and know that you’ll carry the benefit of that effort with you for the rest of the day.
Consistency is king.
No matter what hacks you try to keep your productivity is up, your most important goal is to be consistent, doing the same thing every day even when it’s difficult or you don’t want to. You do it anyway, trusting that if you do the things you should be doing the results will come. That’s what it takes to build a habit that will support you in accomplishing more and creating a more fulfilling experience at work.
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