The Source is no stranger to the issue of time management. This topic, along with work-life balance, is one we get frequent inquiries about, and they definitely go hand-in-hand. You cannot obtain work-life balance without a good grasp on time management.

We all probably have a general idea of how much time each week will end up allotted toward work. The wild card often ends up being life outside of work: board meetings, book clubs, soccer games, an occasional cocktail with clients. We’re asked to help on certain committees or help organize different events for organizations to which we’re tied. Of course we say yes – probably because “we just can’t say no” or we “don’t have a good excuse not to.” All of these seemingly small agreements to help with this and that snowball into one big headache and a lot of extra work for which you’re probably not getting paid.


We see other professional women in the community serving on boards and volunteering for committees. They seem like they have it all together. If these busy women can make it work, why can’t we?

We need a handful of professional women (mentors, coworkers, or even just other female friends) with whom we are honest. When we hear someone we respect and trust admit she’s overwhelmed or overworked or needs to take a few things off her plate, we realize we’re all struggling with the same stuff. We’re all stretched too thin in part because no one is willing to admit she needs a break. Having a confidant who can remind us it’s ok to say “no” might be just what we need.


What is the filter through which you decide when to say “yes” to and when to say “no”? Do you even have one? Maybe you know it exhausts you to meet with clients after work hours, and breakfast or coffee is easier for you. Maybe you’ve realized you can only take on one volunteer organization every year before you start to feel overwhelmed. Usually these things are learned by trial and error. Pay attention to how you’re using your time, what is beneficial, and what leaves you stressed and overwhelmed.

Our very own Director of The Source, Mary Straton Smith, once wisely told me, “If it’s not a ‘heck yes’ then it’s a ‘no’.” It’s a very simple filter, but it’s one I’ve come to really appreciate. Life is too short and our spare time is too little for us to be taking on things simply out of obligation or fear of saying no.


As women, we hate the idea of someone being unhappy with or inconvenienced by us. This often results in us immediately agreeing to something that takes up our time.

“Of course I’ll serve on this board.”

“I’d love to meet you for dinner.”

“I can help put together that event – no problem!”

We need to get more acquainted with:

“Let me give it some thought.”

“I’ll check my calendar and get back to you.”

“Let me see what my workload looks like.”

Pause. Make sure this is something you really want to give your time to. If and when it’s not, get comfortable and unafraid to use the word “no.” It doesn’t make you rude or mean. It’s your spare time, and you have every right to be selfish with it.