Saying ‘No’ to Protect Your Time and Emotional Energy
Photo courtesy of Quin Dombrowski.

Saying ‘No’ to Protect Your Time and Emotional Energy

Written by Emilie

Topics: Health

Six weeks ago, I got rid of my smart phone. It’s something I’d been wanting to do for months.

I was tired of feeling the itch — that constant urge to check email or social media. I was tired of losing time to mindless Facebook scrolling, tired of becoming depressed or angered by unimportant status updates, rants, or clickbait articles posted by people I barely knew. I felt addicted, drained, and distracted.

So one day, Valerie and I took a trip to the AT&T store and I bought myself a dumb phone. My dumb phone can’t connect to the internet. It’s heavenly, my dumb dumb phone.

After switching to my dumb phone, I found myself less tolerant of other things in my life that weren’t feeding my spirit. I stopped trying to reply to all of the emails in my inbox (A new email policy will be coming out soon. In short, I’ve realized that I can better serve multipotentialites by spending my time creating work that will be published publicly and potentially help thousands, than I can by replying to hundreds of individual emails each week). I also started turning down most partnership offers and interviews.

Saying no has been hard. Replying to fewer emails has been hard. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings, and I hate when people are mad at me.

I remember times in the past when I would email someone with a larger community, get no reply, and feel snubbed. What a jerk they must be! I would think. I had no idea what it feels like to be inundated with attention and requests (it’s both wonderful and extremely overwhelming). In short, I lacked empathy. I didn’t think to imagine what the other person might be going through or dealing with.

But I try to feel empathy for my past-self that lacked it. And I try to feel empathy for anyone who might be angry or hurt by me not replying to their email or tweet. They don’t understand what it’s like, and that’s not their fault.

Multipotentialites love to add to our schedules. Our curiosity pulls us in new directions and we take on more and more. And you know, sometimes we’re in a season where saying ‘yes’ feeds us and is absolutely the right choice!

But other times, we need to practice saying no, sometimes in radical ways. Our mental health, not to mention the sustainability and quality of our work, might really depend on it.

Your Turn

How often do you say no? Is this something you struggle with?

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.

62 Comments

  1. Taffar Cifalia says:

    Hi Emillie,
    I can relate to what you are feeling related to the cell phone and to not answering emails. I am guilty of both, and unfortunately I am one of the ones who has not answered “some” of your posts. The reason for that is that I get so many emails that I just can’t respond to everyone. I tend to get overwhelmed by it and just do not respond to everyone. I’ve unsubscribed to stores and companies and they just keep sending emails. That said, I love to hearing from Puttylike and you. Sometimes I really want to respond to you but I stumble all over my thoughts that I just get frustrated! I am so, so sorry if I have hurt your feelings before. I promise it won’t happen in the future. Please don’t stop writing!

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Taffar,

      I think you might have misunderstood. I don’t expect everybody in the Puttylike to community to hit reply to my emails (that would only add to the problem I’m describing in this post). So truly, no worries about you not responding! You don’t need to.

      I was referring to the times when I’ve emailed other, bigger bloggers, authors, etc. and didn’t hear back from them.

      You’ve done nothing wrong. It’s all good. :)

  2. Nela Dunato says:

    Such an important and challenging topic to cover.

    I’m naturally a people-pleaser and it’s so difficult to say no. I’ve said yes to so many obligations, and now I’m in the process of extricating myself from as many as I can, which is hard.

    I experience similar feelings you mention towards the media occasionally, and when I do, I take a break from everything for a week. Last time, my retreat lasted a whole month. After that, I did a massive cleanup of my social media and blogs list.

    I felt a pang of guilt for every account unfollowed. Incredible how we’re held hostage by the fear of making other people sad or angry.

  3. Michelle says:

    This concept of knowing when to say no vs yes, how often or when to stay plugged in, etc. is always of interest to me.

    Excited for you, Em! Rock dat flip phone!!!!! I remember you mentioning the phone issue back in September, so this is pretty cool. :)

    One thing I’m always curious about is, aside from people-pleasing, worrying about hurting other people’s feelings, and the addiction/itch part, I wonder if anyone can relate to a feeling of just wanting to connect with another person via the internet.

    It’s a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out), yes, but I always run into the issue of feeling sad for MYSELF because a person seems awesome and my “no” means I miss out on learning more about and from THEM. At times like this, I say a little wish or prayer that we’ll cross paths again when I am more available.

    Again, does anyone ever feel bad about not replying to an e-mail or tweet or Facebook comment or whatever – in an effort to protect your mental health – because at your core, you just really like people and getting to know them? ‘Cause I do. As an outgoing introvert, social-y (online and offline) stuff is constantly confusing.

    I am still struggling to find a way to get into the habit of creating/publishing strong content…because that part of me feels neglected. Currently, I still lean heavily toward the realm of connecting and consuming – a habit of almost 2 decades.

    Always good to read your words, Miss Emilie. Mountains of love! <3

    -M

  4. Maraed says:

    This post is so relatable to my life right now! I feel like Jim Carrey in “Yes Man” I’ve signed up to way too many things recently! I do this as a way of fulfilling my curiousity , saying yes to things gives me a buzz because it usually means I’m trying something outside of my comfort zone, which is something I’ve become addicted to! But it’s just ended up in me getting overwhelmed and sick, so I’ve dedicated this month to saying no. I had to step back from a volunteer role, take a week off classes at uni and just say no to any extra work hours and opportunities that come up. I feel like I’m letting a lot of people down but I’d rather look after my own health and wellbeing first so that I can be in the right mindset/space to help others later on. I need to be more careful and picky about the oppurtunities I say yes to from now on.

  5. Ethan says:

    This is a very timely post for me, Emilie! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

  6. Maryske says:

    Quick reply here: Emilie, I can totally relate to the phone problem. People (especially my students) think I’m nuts for having an old-fashioned phone – you know, those things with which you can only phone and send messages. I can’t even play games on it!

    But looking around me, I love it. I don’t need to know what’s going on with everyone at every second of the day. And facebook hasn’t gotten me as a member so far, and I hope to keep it that way, even if it means that connecting to people and events that I like is more difficult!

  7. Din says:

    I got rid of my phone over 5 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. My friends thought I was crazy, but I hated feeling like I had to read or answer everything immediately. Now when I’m out, I’m unreachable. It’s very, very freeing.

    Now whenever I think about getting a phone, I remind myself how much time I used to waste reading emails or on social media. Or how I hated always feeling like I was “on call” 24 hours/day.

    People ask me how I get by without one, but when I need a phone, I just ask a stranger to borrow theirs. No one has ever said no :)

  8. April says:

    You rock, Emilie! This is so right on for me right now. I’m in the process of changing jobs, in large part to take back some of my mental and emotional energy. I have a master’s degree, but I’m sidestepping away from that work to take a job with a narrower description, regular hours and no management responsibility. I have too many other things in my personal life that interest me to devote 90% of my energy at work. I’m learning to be more assertive and take better care of myself, and it feels good.

  9. Rebecca Kary says:

    Saying yes can be a bane and a blessing, as you said. Saying no is sort of like a reset when things overwhelm you, a chance to take take a break and reassess.

  10. Carla says:

    I love this post! I’ve been cracking down on my inbox also. It’s hard but I know it’s for the best :-)I’m gradually easing out of being plugged in so often.
    Thx.

  11. Marcin says:

    Hi Emilie, you’ve really hit the emotional jackpot with this one. I have been struggling with chronic multipotentialititis for a while now going from self denial, trying to be someone I am not for the sake of ‘success’ to going totally AWOL and rebel.

    What you are doing and representing is totally ahead of its time. In the era of endless information freedom crossed with looming mental health illnesses we will need people (and attitudes) like you to guide us in better understanding the universal human potential. I feel like discovering your ‘teachings’ allowed me to condense what I have learnt by trial and error so far and grow to the next level in life :)

    Thank you!

    Marcin

  12. Jonathan says:

    Emilie, I think your idea of ditching your smartphone is RADICAL. Like, I applaud you for doing it but man, I don’t think I could. I have to have my phone for work and the many functions the smart phone of mine affords.

  13. Nicole says:

    Awesome post Emilie!! I’ve never had a smart phone, I don’t want or need one, and whenever somebody ridicules me for not having one, I say “When I leave the house, I like to leave my work there.” Any benefit that someone thinks comes with having a smart phone, I have an alternative (like what we did in the “old days”!).
    I don’t have a personal facebook page, and when people ridicule me for that, I say “If I want to catch up with friends, I ring them, or talk to their actual face.”
    I do have trouble saying no to things though!! It’s something I struggle with constantly. To the point where I know I should be saying no to a work offer, or a creative opportunity, but I say yes, and it’s often me and/or my family who lose out.
    I’d love some advice on how to say no!

  14. HEAR! HEAR!

    I think most of us can relate. At almost 69, I am worn out, and I have started to say NO! to things. I am afraid that I might “miss” something, so I say, “Yes”.

    I hate getting up early, (especially to get dressed to go out) so now, I say “No” to early morning meetings, and I look at a committee and see if it is something I “really” enjoy. Sometimes, I have to think long and hard.

    As a friend said once, “The phone (call) is an “invitation” not a “command” to respond. We have to remember that.

  15. Years ago I read something by Stephen Covey – it’s easier to say no when you have another burning yes. So I’ve tried to concentrate my efforts on the yeses that inspire, replenish, nourish and interest me. I’m only one person and only have just so many hours in the day. Sometimes those hours are used helping someone else and sometimes those hours are used doing something alone. Both lift my spirit and keep me connected.

  16. Dave says:

    I understand where you’re coming from… but I started using email so many years ago (35?, maybe more – can’t remember!) that I encountered this problem before mobiles existed. When your work involves sitting in front of a computer screen most of the day, your email tool acts just like a smartphone in attracting you. And so I set up rules to move emails into different folders, depending on who they came from, what was in the subject, which of my many email addresses it was sent to and even whether I was the To person or a CC. Only a few of the folders were set to shout at me if a new email arrived in them. I have carried the same thing over to my mobile phone. I don’t use the standard email client that comes with the phone, I use K9, which is kinda a Thunderbird clone and has much of the same functionality. And then I have some general phone rules:
    * When I’m home, my mobile is often off or on silent – if people need to talk to me, they use the landline. If it’s urgent, don’t text – call me.
    * Email on the go is only for really urgent stuff unless I’m bored.
    * FB on the go – only if I need to find something out, get an instant response from someone, etc. Or I’m bored (actually very rare) :)
    * I write using my mobile when I’m on trains or buses, if I’m not reading.

    I have other “rules” I use to ensure I don’t let my mobile rule my life but it would take too long…

    How did I do that? I refuse to do what everyone else is doing – make ODD work for you! No, seriously.

  17. April says:

    Oh, and also – I recently read “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown, and it gave me a huge boost in the direction of “less but better.” I’m definitely an essentialist at heart; I just needed a refresher to remember why and how.

    Highly recommended reading for multipotentialites. There are chapters on play, sleep, focus, uncommitting and saying no.

  18. Don says:

    As an older multipotentialite, I had to leard to say “no” years ago. I was simply overwhelmed. “No” is now my default. I have trained myself to say “yes” only when there is a clear reason for doing so.

  19. Keren says:

    “chapeau” as we say in the French culture which would be meaning “Well done”.
    You truly have a breaker anointing – you go ahead of the others and open up the way. Good for you – I am glad that you say out loud what others think but stay mute.
    It does take a lot of courage and risk.
    No is a full sentence :-)))) – cheers Keren

  20. vince says:

    Like a breath of fresh air. What great advice. So simple, yet sometimes so hard to do. Very worthwhile.

  21. Leslie Lowe says:

    This is a great example of compassion, understanding that someone with a blog might not be able to return all emails and accomplish her priorities. It’s also about humility and not imagining you’re the center of the universe. A good lesson; thank you!

  22. Donna says:

    I’m planning to give up my smart phone at the end of our contract. Real life is too short, and too brilliant, to spend it staring at a screen.

  23. Virginia says:

    Firstly, I am glad that you are focusing on new material. Since I found your Ted talk it has made a difference in my life. I am 60 and I never say NO.
    At work (when I work) at home to friends never say NO. Everyone looks to me to fix problems. I can always find a solution.
    NOW..I think I will take a page out of your book. Email once or twice a day. None after 9pm so I have time to read.
    Sorry..can’t give up my smart phone. I love having info at my finger tips.
    Keep up the good work.

  24. Stephen says:

    I’ve never really had a problem saying no. If anything my big issue is/was being a little to blunt about it. I’ve a bad habit of assuming everyone sees the logic behind my answers so obviously they couldn’t take offence, yeah that went well. I’m currently being retrained now to better explain myself. I’m sure everyone has had someone say to them “if you try to please everyone you end up pleasing no one and make yourself miserable”. I think for people with many interests, Multipotentialites, it’s even more important to just say no since you are being pulled in more directions. A simplistic example could be found in gardening. Every year about this time I’ll plant several hundred seeds of which I may only need a hundred. At some point you have to choose which ones get to continue growing and which head off to the compost even if they are great plants. If you try to raise all of them then they will all eventually suffer or you’ll be sick to death of gardening. So if you try to answer every email or take on every project you’ll eventually burn out, they won’t get you best and you may walk away from what you love. You’ve already solved your dilemma anyway. You don’t need to answer everyone’s question when if posted on the website the community can step in and answer for you and just may have the better knowledge base to give the best reply. Oh and apologies if rambling. Double espresso’s get me going, I’m off now to corner some poor soul in the lab and ramble on.

  25. Cindy Taylor says:

    Very good post, and I can so relate. I’m at over-capacity with multiple commitments right now. Thanks for the message – truly a “sign from above” for me, I think! Cheers from ATL!

  26. Martha says:

    I too, am an “older multipod”. Years of therapy, a former social worker, and now a caregiver to my intellectually disabled brother. I understand the phone thing, but instead of ditching the phone, I programmed it to work for ME. I use the calendar function to get me to my appointments on time, – those are the only “alerts”, or “reminders” to stop drinking my cup of tea and get ready. I check the weather to help me choose the clothes I need to wear. You get the picture. My phone is my silent partner. It comes out of my pocket when I need it. My brother (with an IQ of 80) has a smart phone, too. I programmed his phone to meet HIS needs. He has no email, but my calendar is synced with his phone so he receives reminders when he has an appointment, or as he says, “Time to get ready chime”. And, my phone changes over time. Apps come and go. Things work and some things don’t work. Keep it lean. Make it work for you.

  27. Amy says:

    Y to the es! Funnily, I just got an older phone from AT&T too, over the weekend, only my third smartphone. But the thing that has worn me out over the last few months was actually the fact that my boyfriend was on furlough, and I love spending time and doing all kinds of things with him (we met swing dancing) but just should not have tried to keep up with him so much when he was not having to work full time like me. Now he’s back to work, so that will help, but even after he left town for two weeks for work, I’m still recovering from some stomach issues that resulted from saying yes way too much.

    I mentioned my stomach issues in my comment on the recent illness post, as well as my life coach. He’s also helping me learn to say no. As always, Emilie, thank you!

  28. Fred says:

    I’ve never had a smart phone. I refused to switch from my, I don’t know how old it is..maybe 5 years old, flip phone. texting is tedious with three or four letters to each key. I rarely text. I’m thinking of even going back to just having a phone screwed to the wall, like back in the day. I don’t get why people use those smart phones. They’re so big, so attention sucking. I wouldn’t know where to carry it. Anyway..sometimes more and bigger isn’t better…for me anyway.

  29. Lorraine says:

    Even though I am an older multipotentialite, saying no is something that I do struggle with and is something that I continue to work on. I’ve learned to say no for work that adds no value to me even though I may need some money. That one is hard. I love my smart phone – because I can stay in contact with people even though I am an introvert and sometimes struggle with being social. The phone adds an invisible barrier for me because, guess what, I have a hard time saying no to people. It also helps me protect my space and time. I’ve had some days where it is a distraction and other days where I don’t even look at it when I am really busy.

  30. Kim says:

    Timely!!! Thank you for sharing so honestly. I have a cell phone that came out even before flip phones…and won’t be supported later on this year. Thought my only option was upgrading to smart phone, but didn’t want to. Now I know I have another option. I have worked gard on saying no over the past few years. I still slip up from time-to-time, but am getting better.

  31. I’m gonna be the damper on this party. All my life,a dn I’m 60 now, I have struggled with this. The issue for me is saying no is often a luxury I simply cannot afford financially. I think there are plenty of multipotentialites out there like me who barely scrape by financially. Whiel I believe the advice is well-intended, , given the financial realities for some of us, it’s about a meaningful and efficacious as the anti-drug campaign of deccades ago “just say no.” Every “no” I make means something else I cannot afford to pay. Only during those few precious times in my life when I had the luxury of being financially flush did I also have the luxury of really being able to say no. I also think this is a fairly typical “blame the technology” solution. It’s not the smartphones that are the problem. It’s us, and we ought to admit to that. Using a “dumb” phone is, at best, a way to perhaps take away some temptations – but it’s not going to train you to say no – just give you fewer opportunities to practice it! (Sorry, I tend to be a gadfly in any discussion.)

  32. Kathy says:

    I often find “No” to be difficult because my day job is so mind-numbingly boring that I’m dying to do anything that looks interesting. And some days it seems like everything looks interesting LOL!

  33. Becca says:

    Emilie,
    well done you! It must have taken a great deal to ‘go-dumb’. I’m impressed.

    Don,
    as less than young Multi-peep, I’m getting there. I have no learned to say no, just need to do so more – I like that it’s your default. I have a feeling that people value your ‘yes-es’ a great deal more as a result?

    I recently forgot my smart phoneS (yes plural!) when I went on holiday – what an emancipation! Instead of emails, face-book etc at the airport, I had a manicure and sat at one of those posh champagne bars and ate chocolate cake. I struck up a conversation with some total strangers and had a really interesting conversation and exchange of political views. Winner!

  34. Jane says:

    Yep, no is a tough one, and not my natural response. I said no to a potential client this week who wanted a quote to make curtains. Despite earlier conversations and lots of advice, she had bought unsuitable material in the wrong amounts for what she wanted me to quote for and had unrealistic expectations of how many curtains could be made with what she had bought. After some thought I told her I could not quote for the work and gave her some alternatives to try. I felt bad about it for an evening, but now I am happy with my decision, I know she would have wanted me to cut corners and then would have been unhappy with the outcomes, it was not one I could win and it was best not to start. I am proud of myself that I said no and I probably need to do it more often! I think you are doing the right thing, we do need to focus on what we can reasonably and comfortably achieve and save some energy for new adventures. Never owned a smart phone and not tempted to start.

  35. Melissa says:

    Thanks for this. Perfect message at the perfect time for me! ‘nfuff said :-).

  36. Anne says:

    Hey Emily, Thanks for sharing this great decision of yours!
    I personally acquired a smartphone just a few weeks ago (believe it or not, given by my 93-year-old-grandma), at the age of 31!
    I’ve personnaly dealt with the itchy temptation of checking my emails and Facebook all the time by… not turning the 3G on most of the time (save money, save time – this allows me to get a very cheap phone plan here in France).
    I guess after years of travels here and there, i never really got hooked on smart device, which is a great thing.
    Congrats to saying no, this is something I really enjoy doing now. And I realised that when you actually say no from a place of heart, better-being and alignment with yourself, there’s no possible hurting there.

    Take care and enjoy the smartphone free life!

    Anne

  37. Jens says:

    Thanks, Emily.

    Saying no is hard for me as well.
    One, I want to be liked and fear that people won’t like me when I say no.
    Two, so much stuff is interesting. My blog and newsletter descriptions are an … interesting mix of stuff I’m interested now, was interested in the past and things that I thought might interest me. (And going back through my Amazon wishlist is like personal archaeology).

    But I had to say to learn no more often because I need to manage my attention in order to manage my depression.

    What I found useful is building in a buffer: Instead of saying yes or no immediately, I say “I have to check my calendar / I have to think about it”. Getting a bit of distance helps me a lot to consider the bigger picture: do I have the time, does it really interest me, is it good for me, does it align with my values.

    And if things still get too much, I try to use the following approach:
    1. Plug the leaks. Where does my time, energy and attention (and money) go? Are there things where they just seep out, where I don’t consciously spend them?
    2. Make space. If step 1) is not enough, I have to take a deeper look at the non-leaks and decide what I have to let go or put on ice for a time.
    3. Build on my strengths. What old (or new) things or relationships fit to my strengths? Those usually are more rewarding and give me energy. A bit like what Don wrote.
    4. Re-commit/re-focus. Hopefully, now I have a list of things I can really say yes to – and actually say it.

  38. Megan says:

    Hi Emilie, thank you for this post! I am very curious to know how your transition has been with going from a smart phone to a dumb one. I fantasize about making that move myself-but one of my ‘hustles’ is in music and I rely on Instagram to post upcoming gigs. I am really afraid of letting that go. Do you have any tips? I can imagine the awareness you have since ditching the distraction has been awesome!

  39. Wes says:

    I used to think NO was a four letter word that wasn’t to be spoken. When I was young, I lived in a small rural community, volunteerism was commonplace. But once you said yes to one thing, others would jump on the bandwagon and try to reel you in using guilt or stroking your ego. “You can’t let other people down.” “You would be so perfect for this.” Now I am in my mid 50’s and have finally become comfortable saying no.

    As far as the phone situation, I have ADD and I have never had a smart phone as I new it would be too much of a distraction. My wife used to kid me and say, “You’re not low tech, you’re slow tech.” I di recently upgrade to allow texting as I started my own editing business and clients wanted to be able to reach me via text.

  40. Eric Kai Lowe says:

    Thank you for posting your story.

    I totally understand about saying “No” to overcommit your personal Time and Energy. About eight years ago, I completely burned out working in the Culinary/Hospitality Industry. And Industry completely based on Saying “Yes” to everyone and everything. “Yes Chef!(repeat loop)”, “Yes Sir”, “Yes Mam” It took me three years after that to do some soul searching and personal growth and development, to realize I don’t love food/serving fine dining more than I love my person sense of self. The Professional Kitchen became a physical and mental prison for me, I was punishing myself or letting others punish me.

    I stopped cooking for two years, and moved back with my family an had others cook for me. And now, I’m an Artist in many ways, also began eating healthier as well. When I took a step backward to get perspective, I was then able to to do work/life separation and balance. Food no longer became stressful, or work. It was just as it is Food…

    It’s a form of personal mastery, you have to Love Yourself, before you can Love what you do and what you are doing at the present moment for the PRESENT moment.

    A lot of Young Adults such as myself have this problem of being addicted to wanting-needing digital global hyper connectivity. It is rare these days to chat someone up on the train like in my teenage years, everyone is plugged into “The Matrix”. Often, immediate interpersonal ability to communicate is sacrificed for our desire to global digital communication.
    Example:
    Einstein predicted: I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.

    This is why I’m a Dancer, must rebel against the machine!

    People just don’t know how to talk to or acknowledge each others physical presence anymore, because these are more flashy excuses to ignore what right in front of you. A tool an extension of the body and mind. We have overextended our consciousness into a Contemporary Digital Tool. A smart phone is JUST A TOOL, but so is a pen and paper, an abacus, a stylus to a clay tablet; etc.

    Sometimes we have to retreat and take a step back before we make a giant leap forward!
    Renaissance, a Rebirth from the Place to Present Enlightenment;
    It’s what we, Multipotentialites do best…

    Subtract to distracting, messy, cluttering noise… do the Algebra, streamline the equation and plug in the next project.

    Thank you Emily for sharing, because you are not alone. ; ) Thank you for your interaction.
    To the Next Project!

  41. Dave says:

    Love this post. Since doing a Mindfulness Based Stress Relief course lately and more time meditating, have become aware of just how much I was missing out on by staring at a small screen and always being available to people. Also more aware of how much people are missing out on, conversations, observations and just becoming addicted to the endorphin rush they get with a facebook like – it’s quite sad and I think will become a much bigger problem with stress in the future for people. Thanks for sharing, Dave.

  42. Isabelle says:

    Hi Emilie,

    Absolutely needed! Thank you so much for modeling the way to say no. I applaud your honesty and transparency. Best to you.

  43. Sara says:

    Great post! Often, constantly checking things like social media accomplishes nothing except making you miserable (ESPECIALLY when you start comparing yourself to others). People keep trying to get me to join Facebook, and maybe I will if/when I start an online project or business, but I just don’t want that added stress in my life right now.
    Also, don’t be afraid to say no if somebody asks you for your phone number, for whatever reason. If you want to stay in contact with that person, just tell them that you’re easier to reach through email and give them that instead (at least until you’re relatively sure that they won’t be calling/texting you constantly).

  44. Shannon Nara says:

    As an actor, if I don’t respond right away to an audition and/or casting email/text, I’ll lose it.

    So, as much as I hate being tied to my phone. I wouldn’t be able to build a career because I’m at the mercy of those who run the business.

  45. Stephen says:

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story with us, Emilie. I knew quite well the feelings you were struggling with, until I learned to ignore 60% of my emails, turn off all the notifications and alerts on my smartphone, and uninstall any social media apps I had.

    Personally, I feel I have my smartphone usage under control, but it pains me to see how much time others around me whom I care about spend keep up with posts and responding to clickbait.

    Not only that, but the constant interruption of any in-person interactions they may be having concerns me deeply, as does the eroded authenticity of the connections we experience through social media and texting.

    The world is both more connected and a lonelier place than ever before. Kudos for your own personal victory over the time-suck and life-suck of servicing non-essential interrupts.

  46. Tami says:

    I use a flip phone, my dumb phone, for mostly emergencies. I dislike texting. My brothers gifted me CD and DVD players to bring me up with the times. I don’t post statuses much and even then I am pretty private. Facebook is just to keep in touch with family and friends. I have just started reading and working with your Renaissance Business book so that I can get even more control of my life by having my own business. I don’t like feeling tied down or stuck. I am happy for you, Emilie, for taking the steps you need to take care of yourself. Awesome!

  47. Kim says:

    Hooray! I get it! The only reason I have a smart phone is because I’m an artist and it’s easier than carrying a separate camera. Minimal data plan that’s almost never turned on, and I don’t do any social media. I don’t feel at all guilty and I can spend my time on much more interesting & creative pursuits.

  48. Jose Siandre says:

    Great post. Here’s a great article that has a lot to do with saying the magic word “NO!”.

    http://elitedaily.com/life/culture/saying-no-and-your-career/1181380/

  49. This couldn’t be more timely and appropriate. I try to say no, but I cave in if someone keeps it up with the emotional blackmail, but end up feeling that I’ve valued them more than myself. So then, more or less, I just told myself ‘NO’, because in the background there was that voice telling me to do what I’d planned to. Does that make sense?

    As for the phone, recently mine had a virus. After a ‘restore factory setting’ the internet isn’t functioning properly. I think I may have turned my smartphone into a dumbphone. Yes! Bring back the dumb phone. Plus I’ve had enough of people being rude, checking their phone while you’re talking with them, especially if they’ve asked you to explain something. (it’s not life n death stuff they’re checking, just looking at facebook.)

    By the way, I won’t be the least bit offended if you don’t reply to this post, Emilie. haha.

  50. Sarah Wilkins says:

    Thank you Emilie and I applaud you! I resisted getting a smart phone for a long time but have found myself to be OK with it.

    You’re so right about multipotentialites loving to do more and more. I have just read a really interesting book called Givers and Takers by Adam Grant. In part of it he explains how Givers can be chumps. We can give and give (in a myriad different ways) often with little reward and burn ourselves out. He could have written the chapter for me! Anyone who’s interested to have a read, it’s Chapter 7 and it’s called Chump Change. It was a light bulb moment for me and is something on which I am now working.

    Look after yourself.
    Sarah

  51. Anne-Sophie says:

    Hi Emilie! It’s amazing to read this post of you.
    Actually, I did something similar last week: I deleted my facebook account and it feels SOOOO relieving!
    I already have a dumb phone for years, so that’s not a problem for me. But I’m very happy for you to evolve in the good way.
    I’ve learned to say NO, but maybe I’m saying to often ‘no’ now… I think the most important thing is to think before saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

  52. Alana Gentry says:

    I received this in my in-box today and wanted to take a minute to tell you that I love this post. Thank you for sharing. I’m sure it will help a lot of people who feel the same way. Love this sentiment, “Multipotentialites love to add to our schedules. Our curiosity pulls us in new directions and we take on more and more.” Well said.

  53. Carli says:

    My eagerness to take on more and more does really depend on the season, but has decidedly sat at a “yes!” for the past few months. I totally echo your thoughts on social media, and find Facebook the biggest culprit for me; it seems like a lot of “white noise” that zaps my time and energy, and doesn’t disappear even when ignored. As a result, I have happily deactivated for about a month annually each of the last 4 years – not planned or scheduled with a return date in mind, just when I feel like it and for however long I need it. I applaud you for taking it a step further, and prioritizing your self-care over responses to emails and other goings-on.

  54. Elise Keshock says:

    EMILIE. You make me feel so connected and loved!! I watched your TED talk about a month ago, and my ENTIRE LIFE HAS SEEMED SO CLEAR SINCE! I have always wondered why I cannot seem to focus my interests into one field. I am a high school senior and this is an especially difficult time for me because I have to make a college decision and start deciding my major/future/all kinds of other scary things. There are just so many options!?!? I have THE TOUGHEST time saying no. I honestly spread myself too thin, but it is very comforting that I do this because I am a “multipotentialite.” In other words, I now know that nothing is wrong with me now haha!! Thank you thank you THANK YOU for spilling your heart and ideas out to the world. You have inspired me to do the same and to never get discouraged. Blessings!!
    Elise Keshock

  55. Angie says:

    YES!!
    I think saying ‘no’ is definitely something that people need to do more often. If people learned to say no when they didn’t feel right about something just imagine how much less crime there would be, how few people would become addicts, how much less negative thoughts would be put out in the world.
    This is actually a revelation I had a year and a half ago and it’s mainly affected my social life at present. I now have a great deal less ‘friends’ than what I had before but the friends I have now fill me with so much love and joy that what I was getting from my old friends doesn’t even come close.

    And as the saying goes: “It’s quality, not quantity.”

  56. I do find it interesting that my comment about the “luxury” of being able to say “no” for financial reasons did not strike a chord in this community, and I wonder what it says about this community’s demographics and socio-economic status. I find it similarly interesting that the call to disconnect from social media and smart-phone use has such strong support – and I suspect I’m one of the older members of this community (I’m 60 for another 3 weeks.) There is almost a tinge of a “blame the technology” undercurrent. Technology is an issue only when we let it enslave us instead of our harnessing it to suit our methodologies and our needs. One can be mindful using technology. It doesn’t require one to be out in a forest somewhere to be mindful. I just worry when I see people jumping on a bandwagon without exploring the broad range of possibilities (and allowing for each individual to determine what works best for them.)

  57. Angela says:

    saying no is challenging! I am actually just starting to learn to say no to others and yes to me, first. This lets me then say yes to what I want.

    It is challenging to determine what is important, and deciding how to manage your boundaries around technology, time, energy and people.

    Technology in particular has a neurobiological addictiveness that can be difficult to handle when you are mentally having a hard time. Hence, the call to learn how to disconnect.

    Alexandra Frazen has a great free article on dealing with email, if you’re interested!

  58. Andrew says:

    It’s all about freedom…
    when you don’t feel free you need to change..these instruments tend to reduce our freedom and you did a great thing deciding to say good bye to your smartphone..
    I personally have quitted FB (it is an incredible waste of time), and reduced the kind of notifications i can receive on my smartphone, so i check that stuff only if I want to, not because something pop-up on my screen..

    anyway i totally agree with what Angela, above me, said.

  59. Shell says:

    I am proud to say I’ve been Facebook free for 5 years now. Quiting that was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made! I have some people annoyed with me for it. They want me to join to see pictures they posted. When I ask them to just send me an email with some, they get upset. As if I’m asking for something g really big. Lost a few, but figured they weren’t really friends anyway. I would spend crazy amounts of my day on that goofy site. Always feeling guilty of I didn’t respond or like Seth post. Friending so many people it was crazy. (Again, mostly out of guilt). Then I realized I was starting to post goofy things. I was always anxious and annoyed at how’d he time I lost. Definitely not for me. What a relief that’s gone. :)
    As far as texts? I lob the “Details” where I can hit “do not disturb”. Awesome! I don’t get a tone of emAils anymore. Seems to have gone away for me when Facebook came about. I am not in a business where I would receive a lot, thankfully.

    I can say no easy now with after work parties or get togethers. I tell them if it’s not pertaining to work and I’m not getting paid, not going. My off time is for family, friends, and my “me” time for mental health. Hat they have me when I’m scheduled. Learning that I am a rigt brained introvert has helped me a lot socially and mentally. I can explain this to people now. If they understand, they are keepers. If they don’t, well, don’t need them. I have a few true and real friends now instead of a ton of Ramey ones. Quality off we quantity. Also, I have learned to say no with “Sorry, I have plans”. You don’t have to give details on what they are, there’s no rule for that.;)

  60. i turn my phone off every night, around 8-9pm (response: “omg, what if there’s an emergency?”)..don’t answer texts/calls while driving (they can wait)..and sometimes on Sundays i don’t even turn the phone on – my way of tuning out the world so i can focus on the day ahead (usually hiking in the mountains/woods for decompression). i have a smart phone but use mainly GPS to find my way around my new city; but i have noticed in increasing desire to respond immediately to all texts/emails so i’m paying more attention to that. i like some of the features (i have some cool apps) but i don’t waste time with movies or such…just GPS, phone calls, email/texts (mostly from my new boss). tired of listening to others’ conversations in restaurants and public places – needs to be a limit/ban on them there. i think we’ll come full circle at some point, to leaving it all at home/work. let’s hope.

  61. Alex says:

    Shmashed my smartphone last week :D
    Don’t have the intention to get a new one. It’s such a relief. If people really need to talk to you, they call you anyway.

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