Why Being More Assertive Can Improve Your Time Management

Discover the Power of Being Assertive and Harness the Benefits

Being assertive is critical for time management. I learned that the hard way. When I worked as a marketing manager, I felt overworked and anxious. Even though I was in my late 20’s, I reached the point of burning out. I regularly created daily to-do lists, prioritised tasks, and used time management tools. So, what was the problem?

A few minutes later, I would receive an email from my boss saying: ‘Hey, I know you asked for a day off, but can you please come over? Something came up.’I started typing my default answer to such requests: ‘Sure, I’ll be there in an hour.’

At that very moment, I realised that my burnout had nothing to do with my time management skills. I did not know how to say ‘No.’ Moreover, I was ready to take on the excess work to keep my coworkers and managers happy.

It was all about the lack of assertiveness. This article teaches you how you can take back control by being more assertive:

What is Assertiveness and Why Does It Matter?

In corporate environments, assertiveness is often confused with aggressive behaviours. However, these two terms are not the same. Assertiveness is an essential communication skill that lets you speak up for yourself in a manner that is appropriate in your workplace. Assertiveness means being confident in communicating your ideas, problems, and goals.

Assertive Female Business Leader Signing Papers
Businesswoman signing papers with another woman sat across from her

Are You Assertive? Do You Lack Assertiveness?

You may be wondering: ‘How do I know whether I have a problem with being assertive?’

While there is no straightforward answer to this question, remember that the lack of assertiveness often causes improper time management.

What are the signs showing that you may be lacking assertiveness skills?

  • Having several top-priority tasks with strict deadlines.
  • Not having time for family events or social happenings.
  • Answering ‘yes’ when you want to say ‘no.’ That later results in dissatisfaction and frustration.
  • Staying at work when everyone else clocks off.

How to Be More Assertive to Boost Time Management

Now that you know your assertive goals, it is time to learn how to implement it in the workplace.

1. Learn to Say ‘No’

When a coworker or a manager asks you to join a quick meeting or help them with the presentation they have tomorrow, you answer affirmatively. You do that because you do not want to come across as mean or offend coworkers.

However, have you ever considered the real cost of taking on new responsibilities while already having a bunch of tasks to handle? It affects your time strategies and compromises your performance. That results in stress, anxiety, and dissatisfaction.

That is where being assertive helps. Apart from taking a load off your plate, it also increases your performance. By openly saying that you cannot accept new responsibilities, you will be able to prioritise tasks strategically and perform them with a lot more energy and motivation.

Sure, you do not have to be rude. Find a way to turn down the request gracefully.

No Unauthorised Dumping Sign in the grass
Learn to say no to tasks that you can’t take on.

How Do I Say ‘No’ to My Boss?

Say your boss sends you a new task and needs ‘it done yesterday.’ If you feel you do not have time to do it, voice your concerns. Explain your current priorities and deadlines.

Then, try to find an alternative solution.

Ask your boss what task should take priority. Clarify how their choices will impact other projects you are working on. Set clear expectations and stick to them.

How to Say ‘No’ to a Colleague?

Helping coworkers with their tasks while yours are waiting unresolved can compromise your time management and productivity.

But, is there a thing such as turning down a colleague without feeling guilty?

The answer lies in assertiveness that eliminates the feelings of guilt.

Rehearse to turn down excess tasks in the future. Psychologists explain that having a strategy in your mind helps you act in a way that is consistent with your initial intentions.

Another proven tactic is sharing your calendar and to-do lists with a teammate to explain why you cannot help them.

2. Make Technology Work for You

Advanced technology solutions play a fundamental role in helping employees be more assertive and maximise time management.

For example, start by increasing transparency within your team. Use Slack and similar free real-time chat tools to communicate with team members. That is a great place to voice your opinions, exchange experiences, and ask for help.

Ask Your Boss to Equip You With the Right Tools

The role of an employer is also critical for employee time management. They should provide your team with the tools that will boost assertiveness.

For example, with the right project management tool, your coworkers will have insights into your deadlines. Therefore, when you need to turn them down because you are working on urgent tasks, they can check a shared calendar and see that you are telling the truth.

Talk to your manager about investing in an employee management tool, especially if your teams work in shifts and rotors. Based on your industry and company size, they should choose the best scheduling software. With it, you can easily track changes within the organisation, communicate with your team, and manage your time and activities more effectively.

3. Learn to Ask for Help

We are often reluctant to ask for help because we do not want to be rejected. To demonstrate skills and competence, we focus on learning new things and resolving problems by ourselves.

Such passive behaviours may compromise your time management and performance on multiple levels. You may take longer to do something, which often leads to breaking deadlines and impacting the quality of your work. When struggling with complicated tasks you cannot solve, it may be tempting to put them off.

Girl holding a paper sign with Help! written on it
Learn to ask for help when you need it, sometimes not asking for help can compromise your time management

That is where being assertive helps. These behaviours eliminate fears and make you confident to ask coworkers for help when you need it.

Now, here are a few practical tips that may help you:

  • Make a list of questions you want to ask.
  • Be precise in your ask. Avoid vague or broad questions.

That can help you get your job done faster, meet deadlines more effectively, and speed up your career advancement. Studies show that up to 90% of the help employees give one another is in response to direct requests.

Being Assertive is a Powerful Time Management Tool

Think of it as a weapon that helps you balance your needs, emotions, career, and family life. Just because an employer is paying for your time does not mean you should appreciate them more than yourself.

With the right assertiveness training, you will learn to listen to yourself and speak for yourself in front of your coworkers and managers. By learning to say ‘no,’ voicing your concerns, and seeking help, you will be able to focus on your priority tasks and stop wasting time.

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