Take control of your life and learn that it’s OK to say no

By Keturah Jones

It’s almost 11:15 p.m. and I’m finally arriving home from a long day.
My feet hurt and my back aches from rehearsing dance moves for the college’s production of “Hairspray,” in which I play the role of Motormouth Maybelle.

I have math homework due at midnight on mymathlab. With only 45 minutes left, there is no way I can finish. I still have to check my children’s homework and get clothes washed and ironed for tomorrow. Then there’s that research paper.

“Calgon, take me away!”

I began to feel overwhelmed about a month ago. I didn’t have enough time. I had to choose between homework and housework while also trying to find a way to be a single mom of three.

How did I get to this point?
I had to think back and question what had changed in my life that was causing me to feel so stressed and out of control.

I remember taking a Learning Frameworks course my first semester with Dr. Tuesday Hambric. In the chapter on time management there was an exercise on prioritizing tasks.

So that’s what I did. I sat down, made a list of responsibilities and still found myself not having enough time. What I did find was I had taken on several little tasks that had begun to add up.

I am a people-pleaser by nature. I immediately say yes to anything asked of me without thinking about how it’s going to affect my schedule. I saw that I was committing my time more to others than to myself and my kids.

Noticing that I was behind, a concerned professor pulled me aside.  She sat me down and wrote out my time schedule. She calculated that I was only getting four to six hours of sleep.

That was the first problem.

She then asked why I was doing so much. I explained that I never experienced a college life, and now I wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I could to make up for it.

That was the second problem.

Then there was the big problem of me not being able to say no. Through this exercise I discovered that I could free up 20 hours a week just by saying no.

My professor taught me a valuable lesson that day. It’s not a bad thing to tell others no. It’s OK to take my time and not try to do everything all at once. Know your limits and don’t stretch yourself so thin that you lose focus of your goals.

Be aware there are some people who will ask you to do things because they know you will say yes, but they really don’t care what you will go through to get it done.

Knowing your limits and being honest with yourself can keep you out of the whirlwind of stress and exhaustion.

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