A Declaration: Why You Need “The Right to Decline”

Today is Friday.  That means “No Meeting Friday.

No Meeting Friday started as a way to reclaim productivity in the workplace.  Let’s dedicate one day a week to do nothing but hard creative work that requires our time.  Let’s get done the things that are more important than sitting in a meeting room.

Some companies have declared “No Email Friday” and that is a good start.  However, “No Meeting Friday” is more powerful.  We can deal with email on our own time.  Meetings are destructive to our schedules and productivity.

But, how do you get to “No Meeting Friday?”  Especially, if your company is not sponsoring it?  Well, for starters you need to “Block Your Time.”  You need to reserve the time for yourself.   For those who work in an Outlook-driven workplace, you can put an all-day placeholder on Friday.

You will be surprised how well that works.  While it can be awkward to decline someone in person, there is a weird cultural phenomenon that people accept when a calendar tells them no.  For a time, a simple calendar block will work magic.  Eventually, you will get asked, “Are you available on Friday, your calendar looks booked?”

The key is… now you get to decide, in advance, if the proposed meeting is a priority over your Friday work.

But, now you need to go beyond Blocking Your Time… you must practice the “Right to Decline!”

The Right To Decline

What is the “Right to Decline?”  It was mentioned previously in the “5 Best Ways to Defend Your Time.

Basically, it is about having the right to allocate your own time.  You need to have the power to say no to others when appropriate.  No to meetings.  No to new obligations.  No to interruptions.

Does you workplace allow you this right?

It may not.  Some workplaces are a study in inefficiency and expect workers to jump at anything that comes their way.  Is this your company?

However, there is a movement for individual rights and workplace productivity over structure.  (Check out what some companies are doing with a ROWE environment.  All meetings are optional and people get to determine the best use of their time.)

A Declaration!

So, in defense of time everywhere and our Right to Allocate our Own Time…

A Declaration: The Right To Decline

  • We have the “Right to Decline” meeting requests. Just because one person wants to talk about something does not mean it should be a meeting.
  • We Decline to allow you to steal our time via Outlook. Why should there be a difference between others scheduling time on our calendars and us scheduling time for our own work?
  • We have the Right to Decline to take on your work just because you don’t want to do it. There is a difference between delegation and slacking.
  • We have the Right to Decline showing up to your event. Just because you invited/asked us does not make it mandatory.
  • We have the Right to Decline your phone call while busy with something else.
  • We Decline to be always accessible. An Open Door policy means that you can approach me about anything and feel comfortable about it.  I would love to met the HR type that interpreted this to mean that the door has to be physically open at all times.
  • We have the Right to Decline your interruption. Your interruption is not always more important than our work, and most likely, you don’t really need it now.

Liberation in Declining

Do you practice the “Right to Decline?”  It can be liberating for your productivity and priorities.  It can allow you to get more done and not be overburdened.

How has declining unnecessary obligations affected both your work and personal life?

No time for time management? Check out my online course designed to jump start your productivity! Take it online on your time and pace. As well, get direct access to me for advice and questions. Get details or enroll now by clicking here!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.theklarichter.com/ Thekla Richter

    Amazing article Craig. It’s amazing how intense the pressure can be in some workplaces to be always and ever available, to everyone, regardless of the cost. Being effective is all about priorities, and effective prioritizing means saying NO to some things in order to say YES to other things that are more important.

  • http://www.theklarichter.com Thekla Richter

    Amazing article Craig. It’s amazing how intense the pressure can be in some workplaces to be always and ever available, to everyone, regardless of the cost. Being effective is all about priorities, and effective prioritizing means saying NO to some things in order to say YES to other things that are more important.

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  • JRandorff

    Wow… brilliant! I never considered having the “Right to Decline”. My work is constantly interrupted by folks who need an answer ‘RIGHT NOW!!!’

    Subscribing… now! Thanks!

    http://jrandorff.blogspot.com/

  • JRandorff

    Wow… brilliant! I never considered having the “Right to Decline”. My work is constantly interrupted by folks who need an answer ‘RIGHT NOW!!!’

    Subscribing… now! Thanks!

    http://jrandorff.blogspot.com/

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